Good question, that. This is what all of us worry about most when looking to buy a used car – and that is why we’ve created this list of the most reliable used cars.

Doing your research

Well done, though, because doing your research is the best way to find a reliable car, so you’re in the right place. There are numerous surveys out there that can sometimes give you conflicting advice on what the best brands and models are for reliability, so how do you know which ones to believe?

Which brands are the most reliable?

Ultimately the old cliché about Japanese brands being the most reliable is no hollow reputation. The AutoExpress 2019 ‘Most reliable used car’ survey places seven of its top ten places with Japanese brands, with the Lexus IS, Lexus CT, Mk4 Toyota Rav4 (2013 – 2019), and Toyota Auris taking the top four spots.

That’s not to say that there aren’t other brands offering peace of mind. The 2018 What Car? reliability survey rated the previous generation Hyundai i30 as top of the pile in the family car category, while the current diesel Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia models, the petrol Mazda 3 and previous generation Kia Cee’d all merited top five places.

Mind you, Toyota kept its halo in place for the What Car? rankings, too, with the Toyota Yaris coming top of the small car class with a remarkable 100% reliability rating. That’s the automotive equivalent of the holy grail, by the way, so if you want a sturdy and efficient small car then look no further than the mighty Yaris. 

At the other end of the scale, if big executive cars are more your style then the Mercedes E-Class (2009 – 2016) won honourable places amongst the most reliable used cars you can buy in both of these surveys. 

How we compiled our reliable used cars list

To make it easy for you, we’ve simmered down a list of our top three safe bets for you, taking into account the sort of car you’re after. These most reliable used car rankings are based on the car’s standings in the reliability surveys, but we’ve only included them if we also know them to be mighty good cars above and beyond the essential reliability. And we’ve named and shamed the ones you should avoid, too.

I want small, safe and affordable to run…

Safe bets:

  1. Toyota Yaris (2011 – present)
  2. Honda Jazz (2008 – 2015)
  3. Hyundai i10 (2014 – present)

Get the barge pole out:

  1. Peugeot 208 (2012 – 2019)
  2. VW Polo (2009 – 2017)

I want a sensible, five-door family car… 

Safe bets:

  1. Hyundai i30 (2012 – 2017)
  2. Audi A3 diesel (2013 – present)
  3. Seat Leon petrol (2013 – present)

Get the barge pole out:

  1. Peugeot 308 (2014 – present)
  2. Nissan Pulsar (2015 – present)

I want a cool-looking small SUV…

Safe bets:

  1. Skoda Yeti (2009 – 2017)
  2. Vauxhall Mokka petrol (2012 – present)
  3. Suzuki Vitara (2015 – present)

Get the barge pole out:

  1. Citroen C4 Cactus
  2. Jeep Renegade

I want a roomy, five-seat SUV that doesn’t cost a fortune to run…

Safe bets:

  1. Honda CR-V (2011 – 2018)
  2. Kia Sportage (2016 – present, but older ones are reliable, too!)
  3. Lexus RX (2012 – 2015)

Get the barge pole out:

  1. Nissan Qashqai (2011 – present)
  2. Audi Q3 (2011 – present)

I want seven seats and maximum practicality…

Safe bets:

  1. Hyundai Santa Fe (2013 – 2018)
  2. BMW X5 (2013 – 2019)
  3. Land Rover Discovery (2004 – 2017)

Get the barge pole out:

  1. Citroen Grand C4 Picasso (2013 – 2018)
  2. Land Rover Discovery Sport (2015 – present)

I want something fun and sporty…

Safe bets:

  1. BMW 2 Series convertible/coupe (2014 – present)
  2. Mazda MX-5 (2015 – present)
  3. Porsche 911 (2012 – 2019)

Get the barge pole out:

  1. Audi TT (2015 – present)
  2. Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe/cabriolet (2014 – present)

I want something big and posh that’ll be great to drive and will make my neighbours jealous…

Safe bets:

  1. Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2009 – 2016)
  2. BMW 5 Series (2010 – 2017)
  3. Audi Q5 (2017 – present)

Get the barge pole out:

  1. Range Rover (2013 – present)
  2. Tesla Model S (2013 – present)

Well that wraps up our list of the most reliable used cars. Do you disagree with any of these? Did we leave any out? Let us know in the comment section below. If you know anyone who’s currently looking to buy a used car, feel free to share this with them or on your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top of the article.

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