When deciding to buy a used car, perhaps one of the most critical factors is its reliability. A reliable car performs its duties for years while assuring you it will not break down on the way. Furthermore, a dependable vehicle will be light on your pocket, as it won’t require frequent repairs. The question is how we can determine the most reliable used cars available on the market.
Well, independent agencies like J.D. Power and U.S. News have taken it upon them to release dependability ratings each year. J.D. Power receives responses from thousands of verified car owners and rates a vehicle according to its type and the number of issues the owners report. The fewer problems a vehicle reports, the higher is its reliability score.
What are the Most Reliable Used Cars to Buy?
Below we will provide the ten most reliable used cars based on research of J.D. Power and U.S. News journalists, who have also taken into consideration the quantitative data like vehicle’s safety, reliability, and cost of ownership. The pricing information for each vehicle comes from TrueCar.
1. 2020 Nissan Armada
$45,745 – $63,695 | Predicted Reliability Score: 91
Although the 2020 Armada is not the most fuel-efficient car (14 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway for RWD) on this list, it is undoubtedly one of the most reliable used cars to buy this year. The highlights of this SUV are the capability to accommodate six passengers, tow up to 8,500 pounds when appropriately armed, and even allow you to sleep in (if required during a road trip).
The Armada uses a beefy 390-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 engine that sends power to the wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission. Nissan offers rear- and four-wheel-drive layouts.
Inside, the Armada offers an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and 13-speaker audio system. However, it does not support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The cloth upholstery is standard, while leather seats (standard for higher trims) are optional for the base SV variant.
The 2020 Armada comes equipped with standard automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and parking sensors. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded it an overall safety rating of four out of five stars.
2. 2017 Buick Regal
$19,770 – $25,502 | Predicted Reliability Score: 91
With a predicted reliability score of 91, the 2017 Regal is one of the most reliable old cars on this list. What makes it better in its segment is agile handling, impressive interior materials, and a user-friendly touchscreen. The downsides are its cramped back seats and narrow trunk opening.
Accessible in five trim levels, the entry-level 1SV comes with a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a tad sluggish acceleration. The available 259-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is, of course, more powerful but with some turbo lag. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, while the all-wheel drive is optional.
The 19/30 mpg city/highway with FWD and 21/29 mpg city/highway fuel economy is below average in its class. However, it gets the top rating of Good in four crash examinations held by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and five out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The standard equipment encompasses dual-zone automatic climate control, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system, a seven-speaker sound system, voice recognition, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and more.
3. 2019 Kia Sportage
$23,420 – $30,713 | Predicted Reliability Score: 91
With a predicted dependability ranking of 91, the 2019 Sportage achieved the top spot in the U.S. News’ most affordable compact SUV ranking.
The Sportage is not just a reliable SUV, its spacious, upscale interior also gives you a posh crossover feel. Accessible in three variants – LX, EX, and SX Turbo – all trim levels come equipped with either a 7 or 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. However, the entry-level LX features a 5-inch touchscreen, cloth upholstery, a six-speaker stereo, satellite radio, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a rearview camera.
The two engine options include a 181-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 240-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel. The 2.0-liter FWD delivers 21/26 mpg city/highway, while the 2.4-liter FWD offers 22/29 mpg.
While you have to pay extra (or buy higher trims) for advanced safety features like lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, the NHTSA’s safety rating of five out of five stars and IIHS’s highest rating of Good in all crashworthiness examinations are a testament that the Sportage is a safe SUV.
4. 2019 Kia Rio
$16,387 – $18,267 | Predicted Reliability Score: 91
The 2019 Rio is one of the most reliable used cars under $20,000, thanks to its built quality and high-end features. If that’s not enough, Kia offers five-year/60,000-mile warranty coverage for this subcompact car, offering a quiet cabin, a straightforward infotainment system, and agile handling.
Available in just two trim levels – LX and S – the standard facilities include power windows, cloth seats, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, air conditioning, a 5-inch touch screen, satellite radio, a four-speaker sound system, Bluetooth, and a USB port. Upgrade to the LX, and you get a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, remote keyless entry, cruise control, and a 60/40-split-folding back seat.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offered it the highest rating of Good in all collision examinations. It is certainly one of the best reliable cheap cars on this list.
5. 2018 Nissan Maxima
$26,596 – $31,933 | Predicted Reliability Score: 91
Nissan has equipped the 2018 Maxima with a muscular standard V6 mill, reliable safety equipment, a user-friendly infotainment system, and a quality cabin. What came as a four-door sports car has now become one of the top reliable used cars, offering a balanced ride, excellent fuel economy for its class, and luxury-like interior quality, particularly in variants above the base model.
Accessible in five trims – S, SV, SL, SR, and Platinum – all variants are powered by a 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that pairs with continuously variable transmission (CVT), sending power to the front wheels.
If you seek the used cars with the best gas mileage, the Maxima with 21/30 mpg city/highway economy is ideal in the V6-powered large car segment.
Regarding the changes Nissan made to the 2018 Maxima, the Android Auto, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking are standard. Other amenities you should expect from the entry-level model are cloth upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a four-way power-adjustable passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.
Thanks to the advanced safety features, the 2018 Maxima received an overall five-star rating out of five from the NHTSA and a 2018 Top Safety Pick from the IIHS.
6. 2019 Genesis G70
$33,648 – $43,471 | Predicted Reliability Score: 91
The Hyundai luxury car brand introduced the G70 in 2019 and soon garnered many accolades for its potent engines, excellent handling, posh interior, and impressive safety and predicted reliability ratings. The North American Car of the Year award was the most honorable among the many awards it received.
The elegant, sporty sedan boasts responsive steering and engaging handling through its two powerful engines. The base 2.0T model houses a 252-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, powering the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive and six-speed manual transmission are optional.
The Genesis 3.3T carries a 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 engine mating to a standard rear-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is optional, and so are the four packages – Elite, Prestige, Dynamic, and Sport.
The standard infotainment facilities encompass an 8-inch display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD Radio, and three USB ports. The dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, and push-button start are optional equipment.
Strengthening its one of most reliable used cars status are standard safety features like lane keep assist, automatic emergency braking, a driver attention monitor, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. It is the reason IIHS awarded it with Top Safety Pick+ accolade in 2019.
7. 2020 Chevrolet Sonic
$16,720 – $21,520 | Predicted Reliability Score: 93
With a reliability score of 93, the 2020 Chevy Sonic warrants a hassle-free service for years to come. It is sportier than its competition (thanks to a 138-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine) with spacious seating, plenty of cargo space, and an easy-to-use infotainment system.
Chevrolet offers it in four-door hatchback and sedan body styles, with the latter coming with 14.9 cubic feet of trunk space (above-average in the segment) and the hatchback with the 19 cubic feet behind the rear seats.
The automaker has entrusted the entertainment duties to the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 System with a 7-inch touchscreen, a four-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, USB ports, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a Wi-Fi hot spot.
While the Sonic does not offer advanced safety features like automatic emergency braking, it secured a five out of five-star overall collision assessment rating from the NHTSA.
8. 2018 Porsche 911
$94,781 – $180,517 | Predicted Reliability Score: 94
Low reliability is the last thing you want for an expensive luxury car. Fortunately, with the 2018 Porsche 911, you do not have to worry about that, thanks to its exceptional predicted reliability score of 94 from J.D. Power.
Porsche offers this luxury sports car with a collection of robust engines, mating to rear- or all-wheel-drive layouts, generating power in the range of 370 to 607 horsepower. The two transmission options include a seven-speed manual gearbox and a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Its handsome, well-made interior with standard leather upholstery makes you feel at home with the Porsche Communication Management system with a 7-inch display, an eight-speaker sound system, Apple CarPlay, a Wi-Fi hot spot, navigation with real-time traffic, voice command recognition, etc.
While the safety ratings aren’t available for this particular 911, the available advanced safety facilities include adaptive cruise control, lane change assist and speed limit indicator.
9. 2017 Lexus ES Hybrid
$30,211 – $30,211 | Predicted Reliability Score: 96
If you seek a high-reliability rating among features like exceptional fuel economy, cushioned ride, and upscale & spacious cabin, you might not find anything better than the 2017 Lexus ES Hybrid. One of the best family cars from Lexus was the finalist of the 2017 Best Luxury Midsize Car for the Money honor by the U.S. News for good reasons.
Although the hybrid powertrain’s 200-horsepower isn’t as robust as the non-hybrid ES, the lower power output comes with stellar fuel economy. The EPA-estimated range stands at 40 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. The hybrids have the advantage of offering a high fuel rating in the city, courtesy of their regenerative braking mechanism.
The standard amenities you would find in the hybrid include a moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, and the Lexus Remote Touch infotainment system with a touchpad, a 7-inch display, voice recognition, an eight-speaker audio system, etc.
Thanks to the Lexus Safety System+, all variants feature a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, and automatic high beams. Due to these innovative safety systems, the 2017 ES Hybrid received the IIHS’s highest award of Top Safety Pick+.
10. 2017 Lexus ES Non-Hybrid
$29,336 – $29,336 | Predicted Reliability Score: 96
You cannot go wrong with the Lexus ES; either you choose the hybrid or non-hybrid version. It is one of the best reliable used cars for not only its high dependability ranking but also for its quiet ride, spacious seating, a host of standard active safety systems, and above-average cargo space.
Available in just one trim level, there are four major packages to augment the car’s luxury status. For the highest level of luxury, you can opt for the Ultra Luxury Package that adds upgraded interior wood trim, a power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry, a navigation system with the Lexus Enform app suite, and voice command, leather-trimmed seats, and wood accents for the console. Moreover, the package includes perforated leather interior trim, a power rear sunshade, a driver’s seat power cushion extender, and ambient interior lighting.
While the 21/30 mpg city/highway fuel economy is about average in the segment, the 268-horsepower V6 engine is more fun to drive than the hybrid powertrain.
The non-hybrid ES enjoys the Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS as well, making Lexus one of the most reliable used car brands in the auto industry.