Everyone has their idea of what makes a reliable vehicle. For some, a car that starts every morning and just needs basic repairs every year will do. Drivers expect more out of expensive vehicles known for rapid-fire acceleration or high-performance towing. Then there are those who say a vehicle’s not reliable unless it tops 200,000 miles.
For the nonprofit organization Consumer Reports, the most reliable vehicles must pass (or ace) 17 different tests. Even if an automobile runs like a dream, testers will knock it down a few pegs if the electronics system is hard to use or the interior scratches easily. Likewise, a vehicle’s owners report problems they experienced every year, which factors into the equation.
In other words, getting a top reliability rating from Consumer Reports takes some doing. Those that land the top scores a few consecutive years deserve the fans and buyers they get.
Then there are the automobiles that manage to post near-perfect scores for many years in a row. To show how well some models have done, we rounded up the top performers since 2010. Here are the 20 most reliable vehicles of the decade, according to Consumer Reports.
20. Nissan Leaf
- Among electric cars, Leaf’s 4 perfect reliability scores in 5 years stand above the pack.
While Tesla has mixed reviews for reliability, Nissan Leaf proved long ago that electric vehicles could stay on the road with the best of them. The first-generation Leaf landed the top Consumer Reports rating for four of its first five years on the market from 2011 to 2016. As the new-for-2018 model makes its way to the market, it also comes with above-average predicted reliability.
19. Toyota Venza
- Remarkably, Venza never posted anything below an excellent reliability rating in 7 years.
Though discontinued in 2015, Toyota Venza put up a perfect reliability score in each of its seven years on the U.S. market. Caught stylistically between a wagon and SUV, this vehicle never sold particularly well, but drivers who bought one were blessed with a model that suffered few mechanical issues. Low-mileage models continue to command high prices on the used market.
18. Toyota Sequoia
- Since 2012, Sequoia never scored below the top reliability rating.
If you’re looking for a used SUV, Toyota Sequoia has been among the best for dependability since the 2008 model appeared. Every year, Consumer Reports either gave it the top reliability score or close to it, and Sequoia never rated below excellent after 2012. Among vehicles on the road after 2010, few can beat that performance.
17. Honda CR-V
- Since 2011, CR-V landed the top score 6 out of 8 times.
If you want a keeper, look into a Honda CR-V. A 2016 study by iSeeCars.com revealed one in four owners (25%) kept theirs longer than 10 years. Glancing at this model’s reliability ratings, you understand how that’s possible. CR-V scored the highest possible rating in six of eight years and recorded an above average rank the other two years.
16. Toyota Corolla
- In the current decade, Corolla was close to perfect in reliability.
If you wonder why Toyota scores close to the top in auto brand reliability every year, just check some of its top models. Corolla, which has been the definition of a vanilla compact car for decades, came close to perfect in its ratings every year since 2010. The 2014 redesign brought better fuel economy than ever, making it a great buy on the used market.
15. Acura TSX
- In its final edition (2009-14), TSX landed the best ratings every single year.
Outside of Lexus, it’s rare to see any luxury-level cars posting top reliability scores. The late Acura TSX is one exception. Between 2009 and 2014, this model landed the highest possible rating every year. The TSX is long gone, but used models are a smart buy for consumers who prize practicality.
14. Honda Accord
- Between 2011 and 2017, Accord landed the top reliability score every year.
After landing the highest possible reliability rating for seven straight years, any doubts about Honda Accord disappeared. Since 2014, testers and consumers have been unable to find one recurring complaint about the midsize sedan. With a new model hitting the market for 2018, Honda once again needs to impress testers and owners, but every previous edition from this decade has a bulletproof reputation.
13. Lexus RX
- Utility models like Lexus RX proved Toyota could deliver reliability in any format.
While luxury brands like Land Rover and Alfa Romeo suffer from bad reliability ratings, Lexus has been one of the top marques of the decade. RX is a perfect example. Between 2010 and 2015, this crossover landed the top score from Consumer Reports every single year. The 2016 redesign barely changed that reputation, though the infotainment system in that debut (’16) model may bug consumers.
12. Toyota Tundra
- On the pickup market, no truck came close to Tundra’s reliability record.
With eight perfect reliability ratings in nine tries since 2010, no pickup comes close to Toyota Tundra’s record among owners and critics. This truck comes from Toyota’s Texas plant and has not had a full makeover since the current model debuted in 2007. While that may leave Tundra behind some of the U.S.-branded competition, practical buyers will be happy nothing much has changed.
11. Toyota Highlander
- Owners refuse to sell Highlander because of its durability.
If you’re keeping score at home, Toyota Highlander landed the top reliability rating from Consumer Reports for nine out of 10 models that appeared since 2009. (In the 10th year, the SUV settled for an above-average mark.) Buyers on the hunt for a 2018 model with three rows will want to test drive a new Highlander, but think of it in terms of the long haul. In the iSeeCars study, Highlander was the model owners held onto the longest.
10. Lexus CT 200h
- The Toyota Prius platform served Lexus CT 200h well.
Though 2017 marked the final model-year for the CT 200h, this Prius-based wagon stands to endure for years to come. In the six years (2011-16) testers provided feedback and owners rated this hybrid, CT 200h landed the top reliability rating every year. Even though it’s been discontinued, this Lexus has to be counted among the most durable vehicles of the decade.
- Outside of in-car electronics, Mazda3 has been near perfect in reliability the entire decade.
With another top reliability score in 2018, Mazda3 has been perfect for eight of nine years across two generations since 2010. Its engine, transmission, brake system, power equipment and finish all passed extensive tests the entire decade. As owners look to bigger cars and compact sedans become less desirable, Mazda3 will continue to be a great buy on the secondhand market.
8. Toyota Avalon
- Even for a Toyota, Avalon’s durability has been extraordinary.
You can find evidence of Toyota Avalon’s exceptional reliability on many fronts. When iSeeCars.com checked on used vehicles with the highest mileage, only a few nameplates had more examples with 200,000 on them. Meanwhile, Avalon landed the top reliability rating every year but one since 2010. It’s one of the most durable cars of the decade and a good bet for anyone who wants a car for the coming decade.
7. Lexus GS
- Consumer Reports rated the GS sedan excellent every year this decade.
If you read through enough Consumer Reports ratings, you’ll notice even great cars can have bad years — usually, a redesign taking a few years for an automaker to work out the kinks. Then there are cars like Lexus GS, which never have any issue acing reliability tests year after year. Since 2010, GS never scored below excellent and rarely showed a flaw. The generation beginning with the 2013 redesign has been close to perfect.
6. Lexus IS
- Doubts about sportiness aside, Lexus IS has been practically unbreakable for owners.
Outside of a few blips in body integrity at the start of the decade and some infotainment issues around 2014, Lexus IS has delivered close to perfection on the reliability front for owners since 2010. Some might think this model’s performance is more Toyota than Lexus, but if your top priority is a car looking good and starting every morning, IS can’t be beaten.
5. Toyota RAV4
- Consumer Reports testers and RAV4 owners haven’t reported a major complaint since 2012.
How does a manufacturer nail down the highest reliability scores for 10 years straight? It takes a near-perfect design and consistent execution at the assembly plant. Toyota, which builds RAV4 at a Canadian plant with about half Japanese parts, found the sweet spot with its hit crossover. Neither testers nor RAV4 owners have lodged a significant complaint about this vehicle since 2012. Both the ’13 and ’16 redesigns came off flawlessly.
4. Lexus ES
- After 11 straight years of top reliability scores, Lexus ES stands alone among luxury cars.
Since 2008, Lexus ES never scored below the highest reliability rating. Breaking down the statistics, neither testers nor owners found flaws in the engine, transmission, electricals or fuel system in 11 years. For a car based on the Toyota Camry, drivers might want more pizzazz behind the wheel, but if durability is your goal then ES has no equal among luxury cars.
3. Toyota Camry
- It reigned as America’s favorite car all these years for a reason.
Midsize sedans dominated the American market for a generation, and Toyota Camry has been the industry’s top seller (excluding trucks) since 1993. Even if the all-new Honda Accord manages to bump Camry off in 2018, it’s clear why Toyota’s midsize rock led the pack for so many years. Between 2002 and 2017, Camry nailed down the top reliability rating from Consumer Reports every single model-year.
2. Toyota Prius
- Worries about Prius’s hybrid battery were put to bed in the last decade.
Once upon a time, hybrid car buyers dealt with worries of the electric car battery failing and their investment going to waste. Toyota Prius put those fears to bed long ago, and its 12 straight years of top reliability scores settled any other doubt consumers had. Every variant — from V wagons to the tiny C and plug-in hybrids — share this bulletproof record. No one has found even a minor flaw in Prius since 2011, making it the most reliable passenger car of the decade.
1. Toyota 4Runner
- An amazing 13 straight years of top reliability scores make 4Runner the undisputed champion.
It may lack refinement and seem a little dated, but as far as reliability is concerned nothing compares to Toyota 4Runner. The truck-based SUV posted 13 consecutive years of the highest ratings Consumer Reports gives for durability. Since 4Runner has not undergone a redesign since 2010, buyers of any model-year can be confident they’re getting the most bulletproof vehicle in America.
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!