These are the 10 most reliable used cars you can buy
Would you believe there’s even a properly fun car among them?
First things first: these aren’t just our best guesses at reliable cars – this is hard data pulled by Warrantywise from 131,000 used-car insurance plans of cars less than 10 years old. Of course, if people are taking out used-car insurance plans, they’re probably already on the more sensible side of things, which you would imagine might skew the purchasing decisions (and therefore results) a bit. The other side of that coin, of course, is that brave souls are buying old Quattroportes, XJs and Range Rovers and very wisely covering their backside with an aftermarket warranty. The fact is that a reliable car is still a reliable car – whether it’s you or a warranty plan paying to keep them running.
Now, with all that out of the way, how many of you are halfway through a ‘Wait... really?’ reaction right now about the Peugeot 107? We had much the same, so don’t feel too bad.
But then we remembered that the 107 is very much not the 1007 – it’s the small hatch that Peugeot, Citroen and Toyota co-developed, with each building its own version of the result. So for Toyota, it’s the Aygo, Citroen called it the C1 and Peugeot went with 107. And these things, regardless of the badge on the front, are largely unkillable. How do we know? Well, the survey results, of course, but also the fact that there’s an entire grassroots race series – the City Car Cup – exclusively for the C1, Aygo and 107. So not a one-make series, but pretty much a one-car series.Advertisement - Page continues below
Not to give the game away or anything, but for Hyundai to come in behind Kia in terms of reliability must be a bit of a kick in the teeth. After all, Hyundai saved Kia after its bankruptcy in 1997, and both now sit as sister brands under the greater Hyundai Motor Company umbrella. Also, the i20 and Rio sit on the same platform, yet the Rio has been reliably cheaper and... well, more reliable.
But to be fair, you’re choosing between the reliability of a wood stove and a hammer here – neither is going to let you down very often, and neither will cost all that much to fix when they do.
The Alto’s been around in one way or another since 1979, but the one we’re talking about here is the non-kei, non-Japanese-built version. It’s just a very small hatch with a three-cylinder engine, sold as the Alto or Celerio in basically any place you can buy a Suzuki. And there’s a badge-engineered version you might remember as the Nissan Pixo. So, obviously, we’re supposed to hate it, right?
Honestly, we can’t. We wouldn’t buy an Alto, but we can’t begrudge it or the people who get one. Hating an honest, reliable car is like hating Canadians – it’s a nonsensical waste of time. You might not love Letterkenny, Strapping Young Lad or John Candy, but you can still love the people who do. And we can still love you even if you don’t.Advertisement - Page continues below
It’s smaller, cheaper and made in a different factory, but the Rio is achingly close to its Euro-built sibling in terms of reliability. Really, there’s only just enough in it to put the Ceed sixth (did you want a spoiler alert for that?) and the Rio seventh. Globally, the Rio is Kia’s best-seller – likely helped because it’s cheap to buy and cheap to keep running.
What do you know about the Kia Ceed? Apart from the fact it was often referred to as the Cee-Apostrophe-Dee, it’s quite good at car rugby at Twickenham but perhaps less suited to carrying eels and sodium at the same time.
Well, now you know it’s one of the most reliable cars you can buy, which feels rather more important than knowing ‘Ceed’ stands for ‘Community of Europe, with European Design’.
OK, so the modern Aygo looks like it’s going as Deadpool to a cosplay convention. Which is, as you’d expect, Toyota trying to claw back a bit of credibility with the yoof, who’ve rightly dismissed it as a car for driving instructors and your second-dearest grandparent.
But while neither of these demographics is exactly the last word in entertainment or style, we do have to hand it to them on one thing; they can pick a reliable car.
Most people, at some point in their lives, have gotten away with something they really shouldn’t have. Maybe it was only once, maybe it’s quite often.
The MX-5, on the other hand, is a lightweight, rear-drive, manual roadster that also happens to be one of the most reliable cars on the road. How do we keep getting away with this?Advertisement - Page continues below
Well, you were kind of expecting this, weren’t you? The Auris – known as the Corolla throughout most of the world – is a car so popular and so reliable that we genuinely believe nine out of ten people alive today have driven, ridden in, rented, owned or stolen one at some point in their lives.
Of course, it does have something of a reputation for being about as interesting as a 10-part documentary on the history of lawncare, but that’s generally considered a trade-off for fuss-free reliability.
In the words of Happy Gilmore, somebody’s cloooooseeerrr.
Yes, even the dependability-first mantra and full industrial might of Toyota isn’t enough to outdo the little Mazda 2 in terms of reliability. Someone will be having words about this over at Toyota. Probably short and rather sharp ones. But we digress.
The Mazda 2 never sold as well as the Fiesta or Corsa over here, for fairly obvious reasons involving brand recognition, as well as the fact that the Fiesta was more fun to drive than it seemingly had any right to be. Which is odd, considering the Mazda 2 is also a brilliant-handling thing.Advertisement - Page continues below
Colour us every shade of surprised that a small cheap Honda also manages to be the most reliable used car you can buy. Honda figured out decades ago that the key to repeat customers is for products to work. It’s why Honda’s sold hundreds of millions of Super Cubs, why the NSX was a revelation (a supercar... that worked?) and why the Jazz is the go-to choice of drivers from learners to little old grannies.