Most reliable cars rated by JD Power UK

The cars least likely to let you down - according to the JD Power UK survey

BuyaCar team
Sep 8, 2018

More technology, more power and more efficiency: modern cars come with an ever-growing range of features, but does more equipment mean that there’s more to go wrong?

One of Britain’s most comprehensive reliability surveys suggests so. The 2018 JD Power UK Vehicle Dependability Survey has found that drivers are increasingly experiencing technology issues - particularly when connecting or pairing a phone with their vehicle. A minority report more serious complaints, such as engine and gearbox faults. 

The survey is based on responses from more than 13,000 owners of one to three-year-old cars, using real-world data to rate car reliability for new and used buyers. Although most modern cars are unlikely to suffer serious problems for many year, there is a significant disparity between the best and worst manufacturers and models. You can improve your chances of trouble-free motoring by choosing a highly-ranked car, or work out whether an extended warranty is a wise investment.

You’ll find the most reliable manufacturers below, followed by the most reliable cars.

You can get a second opinion from Britain's other comprehensive car owner survey, Driver Power, which is published each year by our sister title, Auto Express. It uses a different method to assess and rank vehicles, which produces a different list of ten most reliable cars.

Most reliable manufacturers rated by JD Power UK

Manufacturers are scored on the average number of problems per hundred cars. These could range from a small squeak to a total engine failure, so most vehicles had at least one issue.

The industry average is 128 faults per 100 cars and we’ve highlighted the 5 best and worst manufacturers from the 2018 survey, along with their score. Bear in mind that it doesn't take into account the severity of the issues: manufacturers could be affected by a raft of minor paint issues, for example. JD Power said that there wasn’t enough data to rank some companies, including Lexus, Mitsubishi and Jeep.

Most reliable manufacturers

Least reliable manufacturers

Most reliable cars rated by JD Power UK

The survey identifies the most reliable cars in different categories. Cars are only included where there were enough responses to produce a reliable score. So if a car isn’t listed, there’s no need to dismiss it entirely.

Each car is marked in three different areas: equipment reliability, from touchscreen technology to ventilation systems; interior and exterior fitting quality, which highlights issues including rattles, water leaks, paint finish and wind noise; as well as engine and gearbox issues.

The overall score (which JD Power calls Power Circles) is based on how well cars perform compared with others in their category. The most reliable car is awarded five points. In some categories, models that are close behind are awarded five points too.

Cars with four points are better than the class average, while those with three have roughly average reliability of cars in that class. Cars with two points are the least reliable, with a score that’s well below average. One point scores are not awarded.

JD Power UK best city car

Hyundai i10

Overall dependability 5/5

The Hyundai i10 was the only city car to score a full five point rating thanks to its class-leading build quality. Owners reported that the car is tightly screwed together, which minimised issues such as water leaks, rattly interior parts and paint flaws.

The few problems that were reported mainly centred on technology - such as sat-nav or radio glitches - as well as engine or gearbox complaints, which covers everything from an unexpected vibration to more serious failure. Even so, the i10’s reliability in these areas was still above average. However, none of these complaints were common enough to affect the car’s maximum overall point score, and are likely to be covered by Hyundai’s comprehensive five-year warranty.
Hyundai i10 buying guide


JD Power UK best small car

Peugeot 208

Overall dependability 5/5

There was a time when the chances of finding the Loch Ness monster were better than Peugeot winning a reliability survey but the French company has clearly transformed its quality control, sending the small 208 to the top of its class, even above other vars scoring the full five points. A lack of rattles, leaks and inconsistent panel gaps made it the top-rated car for build quality. The expensive bits of the car - engine and gearbox - were rated above average, as was the in-car entertainment and ventilation systems.

The excellent reliability score, combined with the car's efficient petrol engines and low purchase price help to make the 208 especially cheap to run. Newer models in the Peugeot range, such as the 3008, are also showing strong reliability in new car surveys.
Peugeot 208 buying guide


JD Power UK best family car (compact)

Skoda Octavia

Overall dependability 5/5

There’s an awful lot going for the Skoda Octavia, which is the largest family hatchback that you can buy. This means an enormous boot and plenty of legroom. It’s cheap to run, relatively good value and available with modern technology, including the latest smartphone software.

This should all make you think twice about buying a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus - as should its excellent reliability score.

The Kia cee’d, Hyundai i30 and Seat Leon also scored a maximum five points, indicating that they are the most reliable in their class. All were far ahead of rivals, as there were no cars with four points. The Octavia's top place was thanks to excellent build quality. It was above average for in-car software and ventilation system reliability, but only average when it came to engine and gearbox problems
Skoda Octavia buying guide


JD Power UK best family car (large)

Vauxhall Insignia

Overall dependability 5/5

The Vauxhall Insignia is the most reliable large family car for the third year in a row, ahead of not just the Ford Mondeo, but the BMW 3 Series Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 too (there were not enough responses to include Lexus, which normally performs well in reliability rankings).

It was the best in class for build quality and for the dependability of its electronics and ventilation system. Some engine and gearbox issues prevented it from taking a clean sweep, but even here it was above average for this type of car.


JD Power UK best family SUV

Volkswagen Tiguan

Overall dependability 5/5

A brand new Volkswagen Tiguan went on sale in 2017 but the car it replaced was still going strong - as evidenced by its stellar performance in this year’s JD Power survey.

It topped the table, with maximum points for build quality, as well as engine and gearbox reliability, indicating that it’s best in class for these categories.

The Tiguan was also above average for in-car software and ventilation dependability, although owners reported a few more problems than those with a Hyundai ix35, Hyundai Tucson and Nissan X-Trail.

Although you can no longer buy this version of the Tiguan as a new car (the latest Tiguan was too new to appear in the survey), there are plenty of used examples available.



JD Power UK best small SUV

Skoda Yeti

Overall dependability 5/5

Skoda’s Yeti is a family favourite, partly thanks to its sturdy feel. That’s not an illusion either, as JD Power has ranked it the most reliable small SUV you can buy. It’s best in its class for the dependability of its engine and gearbox, as well as for its engine and gearbox dependability, as well as the car’s interior gadgets.

Although it’s no longer in production, having been replaced by the Karoq, there are still relatively recent 2016 models available, starting at less than £12,000.


JD Power best large / luxury car

Mercedes E-Class

Overall dependability 5/5

The Mercedes E-Class won this category by a mile, as rivals suffered from significantly more problems.

The high-end cars in this class are typically packed with technology, which failed too often on the Audi A6, which was below average for dependability in this area. It was worse news for BMW 5 Series owners, as engine, gearbox and build quality issues were too frequent. And it ranked below average.

In contrast, the E-Class was the best luxury car in every area apart from in-car entertainment where it was just behind the Jaguar XF - but still above average.

The saving grace for Audi and BMW is that their cars have since been replaced by new models - as has the E-Class - which haven’t been on sale for long enough to be included in this year’s survey.


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