Reliability is a factor which can transform the whole experience of owning car. Of course, lots of people dream of driving something classic and Italian, but something that isn’t factored in about this vision is the level of maintenance that is required to keep something like that in good shape.

Now, if you’re after a car capable of delivering time and time again, you’ll want to take a look at our list. Thanks to the What Car? reliability survey, thousands of owners have revealed their own experiences with a variety of models, throwing light on the very best cars out there in terms of reliability. It’s a hard and fast way of seeing the most reliable used cars in the UK and can help better inform you if you’re in the market for a new vehicle.

The top 10 most reliable cars

Reliability doesn’t need to mean boring. In fact, our list has a wide and varied range of cars to choose from with some models that you might not expect. Let’s get in and check them out.

1. BMW 1 Series (2011-2019)

We bet you didn’t expect to see a BMW at the top of this list. However, the plucky 1 Series has come out on top to become the most reliable used option out there, with this generation of car providing all of the thrills and solid build quality that you’d expect from a BMW.

This generation of 1 Series was the last to adopt a rear-wheel-drive setup (the latest one has gone to front-wheel-drive instead) and that makes it an engaging drive, regardless of which engine option you for. And speaking of powertrains, there are both petrol and diesel options there to choose from, with the smaller-capacity units delivering great efficiency as well.

The interior is nicely made, too, and though it might be a bit of a squeeze in the back in terms of headroom, the 1 Series still has more than enough space for most occasions.

Reliability score: 100%

Best Features

  • Dynamic and fun to drive.
  • Plenty of specifications and engine choices to choose from.
  • Interior is made to a high standard.

Things to consider

  • Though the most reliable, servicing the 1 Series will be more expensive due to that BMW badge.
  • Performance models might’ve been driven hard – so do your research.
  • Rear-seat leg and headroom is a bit tight.

2. Ford Mustang Mach-E (2020-present)

Matching the 1 Series in terms of reliability comes Ford’s striking Mustang Mach-E. It’s been Ford’s core electric model for a little while now and remains the firm’s sole member of the fully electric segment. It’s got a range of up to 372 miles in its longest-legged version, so has more than enough in the ‘tank’ for those longer journeys, while fast charging capability means that 77 miles of range could be added in just 10 minutes.

But – and most importantly for this list – it’s also very reliable. Naturally, electric vehicles have fewer moving parts and are therefore more reliable than the petrol or diesel-powered counterparts, but the Mach-e has still proven a cut above the rest when it comes to overall dependability.

Reliability score: 100%

Best Features

  • The Mach-e can deliver plenty of charge between trips to the plug.
  • Spacious interior is well-designed for families.
  • On-board technology is intuitive and well laid-out.

Things to consider

  • You’ll need to think about how you’ll charge up the Mach-e.
  • Interior can feel a little tech-heavy for some people.
  • Ride can feel firm on larger-wheel versions.

3. Lexus NX (2014-2021)

Lexus vehicles are commonplace on lists of most reliable cars. In fact, regardless of the year it’s likely that you’ll see a Lexus within the top 10 as this company has rather formidable expertise in making cars that simply don’t go wrong.

The NX is a mid-size SUV which packs all of the learnings and specialities that Lexus is known for into one good-looking but relatively compact package. The NX’s hybrid setup makes it very efficient, too, ensuring that those monthly fuel costs won’t be sky-high. Plus, and as we’ve found with other Lexus models, the NX comes with a very eye-catching exterior design which is great for drivers looking to stand out from the crowd. A good palette of colours ensures that you can find a model that fits your character, too.

Reliability score: 99.8%

Best Features

  • The NX is both reliable and very efficient.
  • Good looks make the NX an attractive choice.
  • Interior has loads of features and is smartly made as well.

Things to consider

  • Hybrid engine and gearbox can be quite noisy under hard acceleration.
  • Turbocharged petrol version was phased out in 2016 – the hybrid version is far better.
  • Infotainment system is fiddly – make sure you have a go with it before you buy.

4. Suzuki Swift (2017-present)

Suzuki is yet another brand with a near-constant presence on the list of most-reliable new models, so it’s not much of a surprise to see the inclusion of the Swift here. It’s a car which has a whole lot to offer; it’s great to drive, efficient regardless of specification and cheap to repair should something need replacing.

There’s a Sport model for people who want something a little more dynamic, but even the ‘regular’ versions of the Swift are great fun to drive. Compact and relatively square in shape, the Swift is also a doddle to park while light controls make it a breeze to drive around town. Later Swifts turned to hybrid-only engines, too, making it even more cost-effective to run – road tax and insurance won’t be high, either.

Reliability score: 99.5%

Best Features

  • Superbly efficient and cheap to run.
  • Great fun to drive regardless of specification.
  • Offers quite a large boot for the size of car.

Things to consider

  • Compact size means the Swift won’t offer enough space for all drivers.
  • Some interior plastics feel a bit cheap.
  • Infotainment system is behind rival offerings.

5. Lexus NX (2021-present)

You’re not reading this wrong – the fifth place spot goes to the Lexus NX, again. It’s the latest-generation car that we’re focusing on here, however, and though it didn’t change things up too much in terms of styling, it did add the option of a plug-in hybrid engine that can return up to 30 miles of electric-only driving at speeds of up to 80mph. This addition alone helps to boost the efficiency of the NX even further, thought the ‘regular’ hybrid version is still impressively clean-running.

This new version of the NX also brought a simplified infotainment system, as well as a few more upmarket materials inside the cabin. But since the styling of the NX was one of its strongest attributes, Lexus left this alone for the new generation, only adding a new spindle grille and some sharper rear lights.

Reliability score: 99.4%

Best Features

  • Addition of a plug-in hybrid version.
  • Redesigned infotainment is much easier to use.
  • Styling wasn’t messed around with much.

Things to consider

  • This latest NX will command a premium due to its age.
  • Plug-in hybrid will need charging up regularly to be at its most efficient.
  • Ride can be quite firm at low speeds.

6. Suzuki Ignis (2016-present)

Again, it’s a Suzuki car which comes to the fore. This time, it’s the quirky Ignis, which has been a part of Suzuki’s range for some time but has evolved into an interesting compact crossover-style model. In fact, it’s hard to stress just how small the Ignis is – it’s tiny even when compared to a traditional supermini. That said, it packs a lot into a small area with plenty of standard features and a boxy design which means there’s more headroom than you might think.

The latest Ignis models – as with other Suzukis – are only available with a hybrid engine setup which helps to boost this car’s fuel-saving credentials. But, most importantly, the Ignis is a car which has a superb reputation for reliability, so you really shouldn’t have to worry about this car failing on you. A range of eye-catching colours help to make this micro-SUV stand out even more, too.

Reliability score: 99.4%

Best Features

  • Tiny size makes the Ignis really easy to live with.
  • Efficient engines will make this a low-cost choice.
  • Decent level of in-car equipment as standard.

Things to consider

  • Tiny size will mean the Ignis isn’t for everyone.
  • Some cheaper plastics to be found inside.
  • Not the most relaxing or refined on the motorway.

7. Toyota Yaris (2011-2020)

The Yaris is a car which has become a by-word for reliability. As one of Toyota’s most popular models, it’s a common sight on the UK’s highways but because of its never-going-wrong ability, it’s not one that you’ll usually see at the side of the road with the hazards on.

This third-generation Yaris was a real show-stealer, too, with its sharp exterior design being underpinning by an efficient engine setup and a roomy cabin that made more space despite the car’s small exterior dimensions. Its popularity means there are plenty of options in the used market, too, so you’re bound to find a deal on this ultra-reliable supermini. Plus, the sheer number of Yaris models produced means that parts are plentiful and cheap to source and fit.

Reliability score: 99.3%

Best Features

  • Plenty of choice on the used market.
  • Efficient and inexpensive to run.
  • Won’t be too expensive to repair.

Things to consider

  • Popularity as a first car means that some Yaris models could have had a hard life.
  • Low-speed ride can be a bit firm.
  • Interior is quite plain and doesn’t have a lot to inspire excitement.

8. Lexus UX (2019-present)

That’s right, it’s another Lexus. But don’t fear, it’s not yet another variant of NX, but something slightly different – the UX. As with other Lexus models it’s a hybrid, but the UX aims to bring something different to the market when compared with rivals like the Range Rover Evoque and Volvo XC40. In typical Lexus fashion it’s got a sharper, more futuristic styling approach and the same goes for the interior where sharp screens meet plenty of high-end materials.

Lexus also offers the UX as a fully electric model which brings a range of up to 279 miles from a charge. It means that if hybrid life isn’t for you, then there is an alternative that could deliver even better efficiency and surprisingly low running costs.

Reliability score: 99.3%

Best Features

  • Striking design.
  • Interior is made to a very high standard.
  • Will prove very cheap to run, both in terms of fuel and tax.

Things to consider

  • Boot is smaller than those found in rival offerings.
  • Rear seat space is quite tight, too.
  • Hybrid powertrain does bump the UX’s price up.

9. BMW iX3 (2021-present)

BMW’s iX3 was one of the manufacturer’s first attempts to create a ‘regular’ electric car. It had, after all, had huge success with the compact i3, but whereas that model debuted with an eye-catching and quirky design – which was reflected by an equally interesting interior – the iX3 was designed to be a little more subtle and under-the-radar.

In fact, when put alongside the standard X3, the electric iX3 is hard to differentiate against its petrol and diesel-powered stablemate, save for the blanked-off kidney grilles which help aid aerodynamic efficiency. The way the iX3 drives is quite traditionally ‘BMW’, too, with good body control and pleasant steering which creates a car that is both enjoyable yet easy to live with. BMW claims an electric range of up to 285 miles for the iX3, too, while thanks to rapid charging a 10 to 80 per cent top-up could take around 30 minutes.

Reliability score: 99.3%

Best Features

  • Large boot and spacious interior.
  • Feels ‘normal’ to drive when compared with other EVs.
  • Comes with loads of equipment as standard.

Things to consider

  • Costs significantly more than ‘regular’ X3 versions.
  • Will require somewhere reliable to charge up.
  • Some of its rivals can return more range between charges.

10. Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid (2016-2022)

The Ioniq took a three-pronged approach when it arrived back in 2016. Offered with hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric setups, it’s a car which should, in theory, be available in a version that can work for anyone.

It’s also a car which has just squeaked into the top 10 list of most-reliable cars, meaning that it’s also a very reliable choice overall. However, the Ioniq’s zero-fuss approach is what we really appreciate, from its well-made but robust interior to its comfortable driving style. The hybrid version, which requires no plugging in, also does well when it comes to efficiency.

Sure, it may not have the interior materials of other more premium cars on this list, but it delivers where it matters, namely in terms of space and practicality where the Ioniq’s well-sized boot and comfortable cabin help to make this a great choice, particularly for families or commuters.

Reliability score: 99.2%

Best Features

  • Trio of powertrain options to choose from.
  • Robust interior feels sturdy and well made.
  • All Hyundai models get a five-year unlimited-mileage warranty.

Things to consider

  • Ioniqs are quite popular with taxi drivers, so look out for high-mileage versions.
  • Can feel a bit sharp ride-wise at lower speeds.
  • Rear-seat headroom might be a bit tight for taller passengers.

Why should you buy a reliable used car?

A reliable used car makes loads of sense. You’ll be spending less on repairs and running a car which has a good track-record when it comes to reliability will be a lot less stressful, too. When it comes to MOT time you won’t have to fear that it’ll cost a small fortune to repair any advisories, too, and though we’d always advise setting some money aside in case certain issues arrives they’ll be few and far between on a car which is well known for its reliability.

If you really depend on your car – as most people do – then having one that is reliable is paramount. After all, if you’re taking the kids to school or fighting your way through traffic to work, then the last thing you need is a car that will let you down.

What to consider when looking for a reliable used car

There are plenty of things to consider before purchasing any used car, but what should you be looking out for when searching for a relible model?


A car’s history is a great way of finding out how reliable it has been beforehand. A quick MOT search online can be a great start – it only requires the car’s registration plate – and will flag up any existing problems or advisories, as well as if the car has recently failed a test. Do this and you’ll get a far clearer picture about a car’s health.

Inevitability of issues

Even if you pick the most reliable car going, there are always going to be problems. It’s why we’d advise setting aside a small amount of money that could help out should something go wrong. After all, there’s no way of predicting the future and even a car which has previously shown a clean bill of health could throw up an issue at a moment’s notice.


A car is only going to remain reliable if they’re well looked after and that’s where servicing comes into play. If you look at a car’s history, it’s likely that a car which has been routinely will be smoother and more efficient to drive, so that’s something to bear in mind going forward. Even a routine oil service can help prevent larger problems further down the line but, again, it’s something that you need to budget for.