Whether you’re in the market for a brand-new or pre-owned vehicle, reliability often tops the list of priorities for many buyers. But what exactly constitutes a reliable car? Typically, it’s one that stands the test of time and has a lower likelihood of encountering issues or requiring frequent repairs. A reliable car translates to more value for your money.
This quest for reliability becomes particularly crucial considering that the average monthly financing costs for new and used vehicles are around $729 and $528, respectively, as reported in Experian’s second-quarter State of Automotive Finance Market report. While cars with impeccable track records might not always be the most budget-friendly upfront, they tend to result in lower overall expenses during ownership.
If you’re on the lookout for dependable vehicles, conducting thorough research before making a purchase is a key step to ensure a satisfying and hassle-free driving experience.
9 of the most reliable cars
Researching various makes and models to identify dependable vehicles can be a time-consuming process, taking up hours of your valuable time. Fortunately, industry experts have taken the initiative to simplify this task.
In its 2023 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, J.D. Power meticulously assesses the most reliable models, scrutinizing 184 specific issues that can affect vehicle owners. While their selections were primarily based on feedback from owners of 2020 models, reflecting their performance over three years of ownership, we’ve highlighted features from the latest models below. It’s worth noting that features may vary depending on the specific trim level.
Here, we present nine cars for your consideration, each noted for their minimal issues and strong reliability.
1. Kia Forte (Top-rated compact car)
If you’re a city dweller or seeking a compact choice, the Forte stands out with its spacious cabin and impressive features, all within an affordable price range. Its fuel efficiency also makes it an excellent choice for eco-conscious drivers.
Noteworthy features include:
- A seamless 8-inch infotainment screen
- Strong fuel economy
- Convenient remote keyless entry
- The option for a long-term warranty
- Hands-free Bluetooth connectivity with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.
2. Kia K5 (Top-rated midsize car)
Stepping up in size from the Forte, the K5 (formerly known as the Optima) offers a spacious interior packed with integrated technology for effortless navigation. With five available trims, drivers have the flexibility to choose the option that aligns with both their budget and requirements.
Highlighted features include:
- Rear parking sensors
- Integration with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and a six-speaker audio system
- The convenience of a remote start option
- Standard emergency braking
- Standard lane-keeping assist and lane departure warning systems
3. Toyota C-HR (Top-rated small SUV)
Matching the Lexus RX as one of the most dependable models overall, the C-HR combines a stylish exterior with a comfortable ride. Although the latest model was introduced in 2022 and later discontinued, it showcases cutting-edge driver-assist technology and support for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Despite its compact SUV dimensions, the foldable rear seats create a surprisingly spacious cargo area.
Key features encompass:
- Dual-zone climate control
- A sporty and upscale interior design
- Standard lane-assist and lane departure warning systems
- A 4.2-inch speed gauge display
- An 8-inch infotainment touchscreen for intuitive controls.
4. Kia Sportage (Top-rated compact SUV)
Despite its compact size, the Sportage offers a generously spacious five-seat interior and an appealing exterior design. In recent models, select trims even provide the option to include a sizable sunroof and LED cabin lighting, enhancing the overall experience. This makes it an ideal choice for families seeking ample space without compromising on easy handling.
Highlighted features encompass:
- A roomy interior, considering its vehicle category
- An 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system (available on the LX trim)
- A stylish exterior design
- A horsepower range of 187 to 261
- A generous cargo space of 39.6 cubic feet, accommodating your storage needs with ease.
5. Chevrolet Blazer (Top-rated midsize SUV)
Although it comes at a slightly higher price point compared to its rivals, the Blazer presents an enticing blend of sporty and stylish exterior aesthetics, complemented by effortless maneuverability. The latest trim options introduce a variety of additional paint color choices, including copper bronze, radiant red, and fountain blue.
Highlighted features comprise:
- A generous 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen
- A convenient wireless charging pad
- A roomy five-seat configuration
- A six-speaker audio system for immersive sound
- The added convenience of a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.
6. Chevrolet Tahoe (Top-rated large SUV)
This timeless SUV impressively combines agility with its substantial size, offering a diverse array of trims. Although additional features can push the vehicle toward the luxury price range, the all-terrain Z71 model stands out as an excellent choice for drivers residing in regions prone to storms.
Key features include:
- A built-in Wi-Fi hotspot and advanced voice recognition
- A robust horsepower range spanning from 277 to 420
- Standard driver-assist features for added safety
- A powerful 6.2-liter V8 engine
- Seamless integration with Google services, enhancing connectivity and convenience.
7. Toyota Sienna (Top-rated minivan)
Maintaining its strong ranking for the second consecutive year, the Sienna impresses with remarkable fuel efficiency within its class, courtesy of its fully revamped hybrid engine. Its spacious and luxurious interior design solidifies its position as the go-to option for large families.
Key features include:
- A user-friendly 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Comprehensive support for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, and a Wi-Fi hotspot
- A six-speaker stereo system equipped with satellite radio
- A substantial cargo capacity of 33.5 cubic feet behind the third-row seats
- Standard eight-seat configuration in standard models, ensuring ample seating for your family’s needs.
8. Toyota Tacoma (Top-rated midsize pickup)
A beloved choice for many, the Tacoma seamlessly blends the utility of a truck with effortless maneuverability. Recent models introduce several new trim levels featuring sleek exteriors and the option of a six-speed manual transmission paired with the V6 engine.
Highlighted attributes encompass:
- A substantial 6,800-pound towing capacity
- Proven durability and longevity
- A horsepower range spanning from 159 to 278
- Comprehensive compatibility with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa
- An intuitive 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display for seamless connectivity and contr
9. GMC Sierra (Top-rated large light-duty pickup
Renowned for its adept handling and off-road enhancements, this timeless pickup is an ideal choice for tasks such as towing, hauling, or straightforward point-to-point travel. The 2023 model introduces cutting-edge technology packages and features a sleek and modern exterior design.
Noteworthy characteristics include:
- A spacious and accommodating truck bed
- A responsive 10-speed shiftable automatic transmission
- An impressive towing capacity of up to 13,300 pounds
- Seamless compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with the convenience of speed-sensitive volume control.
Additional car costs
No matter which model you opt to purchase, it’s essential to be mindful of the potential additional costs associated with your vehicle. These considerations should play a role in determining the overall affordability of your chosen vehicle.
The average cost of car maintenance
Consistently adhering to vehicle maintenance is paramount to ensure the longevity and reliability of your vehicle, while also helping you save money. Neglecting the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule could potentially shorten your car or truck’s lifespan.
The expense associated with maintaining a vehicle varies based on its make and model. It’s worth noting that new cars typically require minimal maintenance, primarily focusing on basics like oil changes and tire rotations. However, as a vehicle ages, it’s reasonable to anticipate higher maintenance costs to keep it operating efficiently.
Understanding cost to own
While car buyers often focus on the initial sales price when gauging a good deal, it’s crucial to recognize that the true cost of owning a car extends well beyond that upfront expenditure. In addition to routine maintenance, there exists a myriad of other factors to take into account.
These factors encompass:
- Finance charges, encompassing interest and associated fees
- Taxes and additional fees
- Repairs and unforeseen maintenance expenses
- Car insurance premiums
- Fuel costs
- Registration fees
Many industry experts offer tools that enable you to compare vehicles by revealing their total cost of ownership over a five-year period. Generally, the most reliable cars tend to have lower overall costs because they require less frequent maintenance and repairs.
Kelley Blue Book, for instance, provides comprehensive data on vehicle values and the five-year cost of ownership for specific models. Utilizing such data or employing calculators from reputable sources within the industry can provide valuable insights into a car’s overall reliability and affordability.
Selecting the ideal vehicle for your needs entails more than just assessing its reliability. It’s essential to take your lifestyle and specific requirements into account before embarking on your shopping journey, ensuring that you drive away both satisfied and with a vehicle that stands the test of time. If your intention is to finance your new vehicle, it’s advisable to seek preapproval for a loan and diligently compare interest rates from various lenders to secure the best financing terms.