You wouldn’t buy a house with a crumbling foundation and a sagging roof, so why would you buy a car with known mechanical issues and poor fuel economy? A vehicle is one of the biggest purchases you can make and you should be confident that your new ride is going to stand the test of time.
What makes a vehicle reliable?
Reliability, simply put, is a vehicle’s tendency to work as expected. A car that continues driving year-after-year with only the recommended maintenance is a good example of a reliable vehicle. A car that stops working if the temperature dips below a certain threshold or requires multiple visits to the mechanic for unexpected issues is, obviously, unreliable.
J.D. Power does annual consumer satisfaction surveys to help prospective buyers choose a trustworthy vehicle. Under the category of reliability, they look at a vehicle’s mechanical components (engine, transmission, driving dynamics); touch points (exterior, interior, seats); and features like climate controls and entertainment. All of these things play a role in how well your car functions and your overall experience as a driver.
Consumer Reports (CR) is another good place to do some research if you’re thinking about buying a car. Each year, they dive deep into vehicle reliability by road testing hundreds of thousands of cars and surveying many, many drivers. They look at 17 common trouble areas to determine which cars have the least reported issues in a 12 month period.
Most reliable cars in Canada
We’ve put together a list of the top five most reliable cars according to CR’s data and have included the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MRSP) and the key features that make each car a winner.
Reliability features: Good fuel economy, cargo versatility, advanced safety features.
Kia gets a reliability score of 71 out of 100 from CR and the brand’s Niro model is roomy five-seat crossover with a hybrid engine that gets close to 50 miles per gallon on the highway.
The SUV comes with either a conventional or plug-in hybrid 1.6-litre engine with a fully electric Niro slated for release in 2019. The plug-in can get 42 kilometres of electric range at highway speeds and the lithium-ion battery actually recharges itself whenever you engage the brakes. It’s a great vehicle for those who want the environmental benefits of battery power with the reliability of a gas engine.
The battery pack located in the rear of the vehicle doesn’t take away from the Niro’s cargo space. The hatchback offers 54.5 cubic feet of flat load floor space when the rear seats are folded down, so you’ll never have to worry if your IKEA purchases will fit in the trunk again. It also has a concealed storage areas underneath the floorboards.
The driver’s seat has a power adjust option that makes it possible to personalize the seat to your body. Kia has included a wireless charging pad for your phone and high-tech safety features like blind-spot and lane-departure warnings as well as adaptive cruise control.
Reliability features: Comfortable interior, quiet ride, good fuel economy.
The Lexus ES is one of the luxury carmaker’s core products, meaning the sedan is equipped with the smooth, powerful engine that is expected from the brand (Lexus is number two in CR’s reliability ratings). The ES is a hybrid that provides sporty handling and good fuel economy — two things that are usually mutually exclusive.
The ES comes as either a V6 or as a hybrid that nets 39 MPG on the highway. The hybrid option has two electric motors that supplement its gas engine and brings the car’s horsepower up to 215.
Comfort has always been king for Lexus and the ES has a lush interior that is whisper quiet and packed with features — like 10-way power adjustable heated and ventilated front seats. It has a 7-inch central display and is Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa equipped.
Safety features are top of the line and include lane-departure warning alerts, pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control and automated emergency braking. The Lexus Enform Safety Connect feature lets you contact emergency services at the touch of a button in the case of an accident or roadside incident.
Reliability features: Spacious cabin, solid performance, straightforward controls.
Toyota is the most reliable brand out there according to CR rankings and the RAV4 is one of the brand’s consistent top performers. The Japanese manufacturer makes solidly-built vehicles with refined powertrain systems, good fuel economy, comfortable cabins and smart controls. All that and Toyota vehicles are priced for entry-level consumers.
The RAV4 has been one of the top-selling crossover SUVs for years because of its practicality. It has a spacious cabin and cargo hold that can comfortably carry five humans and as much camping gear as they need for a weekend away.
The all-wheel drive crossover has a hybrid option that is available at the base model price and bumps the fuel economy up to 30 MPG on the highway. High-end safety features, like emergency braking and a backup camera, are standard on all RAV4s.
Toyota Prius V
Reliability features: Top rated fuel economy, versatility, roomy interior.
Considering all-around love Toyota gets for its reliability, it’s not surprising to see two of its vehicles on this list. The Prius V is a hybrid wagon that outperforms most other cars in its class when it comes to fuel economy — the spunky all-wheel drive gets 41 MPG overall.
It has three different modes that allows the driver switch to electric-only operation whenever they want. Like most hybrids these days, the Prius V also harnesses regenerative braking technology to recharge its battery pack.
The 5-seat cabin is spacious and the back row can fold flat to increase the hatchback’s cargo space to 67 cubic feet. There are cargo bins hidden under the trunk floor and a bunch of small item storage options scattered throughout the cabin. The Prius V has big windows and an optional weight-saving resin moonroof that adds to the cabin’s airy feel.
Reliability features: Comfortable ride, intuitive tech features.
As a brand, Audi comes in fourth on reliability, according to CR. The automaker is buoyed by equal attention to technology, performance and luxury, as well as its competent Quattro all-wheel drive system. The Audi Q3 is a compact crossover SUV that is reliable, comfortable and offers all the tech and standard goodies synonymous with a luxury brand.
The 2019 Q3 is slightly larger than older versions of the utility vehicle, making the cockpit and rear seating area more spacious. The back seats also have a 40/20/40 split option, making loading cargo and hauling people more versatile. Speaking of convenience, higher price points of the Q3 come with a handy power tailgate with kick-motion activation.
The SUV’s tech and connectivity features are top of the line. The navigation system recognized voice commands, remembers your favourite routes and uses swarm technology for real-time traffic and road conditions. It also has wireless phone charging and a full-suite of high-end safety features, like surround-view cameras and adaptive cruise assist.
Did you know, Birchwood Credit Solutions is the largest network of car dealerships in Winnipeg, Manitoba? This means, you have access to thousands of reliable makes and models. Choose from both new and used cars, trucks, vans and SUVs. To find out more, browse our inventory.
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