The Ten Most Reliable Vehicles for 2019

A philosophy that stresses evolution over revolution lead one automaker to dominate the reliability ratings.
  •  The common theme among the best vehicles in Consumer Reports’ latest reliability survey is consistency.

    Year after year, certain vehicles consistently appear in the list of the most reliable. And, year after year, their engineers eschew high-tech glitz and drama, preferring instead to build vehicles that simply work. “When you have something good, you stick with it,” explained Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports. “You don’t make changes just for the sake of doing it.”

    The new ratings (available in the April issue of Consumer Reports) are proof that a philosophy of consistency works. This year, Toyota Motor Corp. again dominated. Five of the 10 most reliable vehicles were Toyotas and a sixth came from Toyota’s luxury division, Lexus. Others on the list included two Mazdas, a Honda, and a BMW.

    In all cases, the leaders earned their spots by pleasing their owners. This year, the ratings were a product of more than 470,000 owner reports.

    Here, we’ve collected photos of the vehicles that were designated the most reliable. From plug-in hybrids to big sedans, they have a single thing in common – all received “much better than average” overall reliability ratings from Consumer Reports. Flip through the following slides to see which are the best.

    (Image source: Honda Motor Co.)

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    Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 35 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.

  • The Toyota Avalon full-sized sedan was one of the rare vehicles in this year’s survey that received a top rating (“much better than average”) in eight straight years, from 2011 through 2018. Moreover, it earned better-than-average grades in almost every one of 17 sub-categories, from engine to transmission to power equipment, in almost every year. Its only hiccup – a lower rating for in-car electronics in 2015 – has since been fixed. (Image source: Toyota)

  • Another Toyota vehicle that ran the table this year was the sub-compact hybrid Prius C, which received the highest reliability rating in every year when sufficient data was available. The Prius C city car had a few minor issues with power equipment and in-car electronics in 2012 and ‘13, but in true Toyota fashion, those glitches were quickly fixed. During all its years, it has served as proof that low initial cost (starting price, $21,530) doesn’t prevent a car being reliable. Toyota has announced this will be the final year for the C. (Image source: Toyota)

  • Mazda’s compact crossover CX-5 earned its spot on the list of the most reliable vehicles by virtue of its admirable steadiness over six straight years. The CX-5 received “much better than average” overall grades in five of those years, with 2014 being the only exception. But even then, it was designated “better than average.” The only glitches for the CX-5 have been in the in-car electronics category in 2015 and ’16, which have since been fixed. To be sure, Mazda hasn’t sacrificed performance to receive those stellar reliability ratings. In this year’s write-up, Consumer Reports called the CX-5 “one of the best small SUVs.” (Image source: Mazda)

  • The compact Lexus NX luxury crossover was yet another Toyota vehicle that landed in the top ten this year. It earned best grades in virtually all of the 17 sub-categories over four straight years, with the exception of in-car electronics, where it was said to be “below average” in 2016. Consumer Reports called the NX “one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs we’ve ever tested.” (Image source: Lexus)

  • The Toyota Prius is no longer the darling of the eco set, having relegated that mantle to the Tesla Model 3, but it still offers unmatched reliability. The Prius has received a “much better than average” overall reliability rating in seven of the past eight years, the only exception being 2018. Remarkably, it has received near-perfect ratings in engine, transmission, and electrical sub-categories in virtually every year from 2011 to 2018, despite having a relatively complicated dual powertrain. In all those years, it earned only two average scores – those being for power equipment and in-car electronics back in 2011. (Image source: Toyota)

  • Despite a dip in the ratings for other Hondas, the sub-compact Fit has maintained its stellar reliability. The Fit is coming off two consecutive “much better than average” ratings, and its fourth in the last seven years. Problem areas are few and far between, the only notable one being its climate system in 2011 through 2013. But even that problem has since been fixed. (Image source: Honda)  

  • The Toyota Highlander mid-sized crossover has been a frequent entrant among the most reliable vehicles, having earned “much better than average” ratings in six of the past eight years. Its chief asset has been its powertrain, which has been virtually perfect in every year from 2011-2018. It had some minor glitches with body hardware and in-car electronics, but has since recovered. Consumer Reports wrote that “the Highlander ranks among the best mid-sized three-row SUVs.” (Image source: Toyota)

  • The big Mazda6 sedan has gradually climbed into the upper echelon of the most reliable vehicles, having received a “much better than average” rating in four of the past seven years. It had some problems with its exhaust in 2011 and ’12, as well as issues with brakes in 2015 and ’16, but since has recovered nicely. For 2019, it has received Consumer Reports coveted “recommended” status. (Image source: Mazda)

  • Sales numbers of the electric BMW i3 have been relatively low, so there wasn’t always enough data to provide a rating, but in those years when data was sufficient, its reliability was strong. In its last two years, the i3’s rating was much better than average.” It’s only average year was in 2014, shortly after it reached the market. The only problem area noted for i3 has been its power equipment in 2014, which has since been fixed. (Image source: BMW)

  • The Prius Prime plug-in hybrid has only two years of data, but its reliability has been near-perfect during that period. The Prime has received only one non-perfect mark in those two years. Even then, the non-perfect grade was a “better than average” designation for its in-car electronics. It also receives a stellar miles-per-gallon equivalent rating of 133 MPGe. (Image source: Toyota)

 

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