With over 75 million new-car sales over the past five years, consumers have a massive pool of vehicles to choose from when shopping for a used model. If you choose a vehicle with high depreciation, you can get into a ride for 70% less than the original owner did a few years back.
But it all depends on your priorities. For used-vehicles shoppers who prize reliability over other factors, you might want to ignore depreciation at the start of your search.
In fact, your first stop should probably be the detailed Consumer Reports reliability ratings since the start of the decade. Looking at the midsize SUV category in recent years, these eight models have stood above the pack in this category.
8. Subaru Outback
Maybe you call it a wagon, but the cargo-friendly, four-wheel-drive Outback is exactly what consumers want in a utility vehicle. Every year, it posts above-average owner satisfaction ratings while posting strong resale value.
Meanwhile, Subaru’s midsize model has ranked high for reliability. Since 2014, you’ll find only minor issues with infotainment and power equipment. Otherwise, you’ll get a car that runs as reliably as any SUV for the 2014-17 model years.
7. Kia Sorento
You could argue that Kia’s gains in quality over the past 10 years has been one of the under-reported stories in the automotive media. Just about every vehicle in the lineup has improved dramatically, and all the while the 10-year warranty has stuck around.
The Sorento midsize SUV offers a perfect test-case. By 2015, all the complaints about earlier model-years disappeared as an above-average reliability rating went on the books. In 2016, despite being a redesign year, Sorento once again got a high rating. A total of zero (0) mechanical, interior, or other flaws were reported for both years.
6. BMW X5
Whether you go by sales, owner satisfaction, or reliability, the BMW X5 is one of the top-rated SUVs you can buy (new or used). For our purposes, zeroing on dependability in daily operations, it stands out among all midsize utility vehicles and among luxury models in particular.
Since the 2015 model appeared, the only weak spots identified were the in-car electronics system (’15 models) and overall fit-and-finish (’16 models). Otherwise, owners and testers reported solid, reliable performance.
5. Toyota Venza
- Best years: 2012, 2014-15
While the Toyota Venza was discontinued in 2015, this model remains one of the most reliable utility vehicles of the decade. Year after year, owners reported few (if any) issues with its powertrain, fuel system, climate control, or brakes.
Certainly, you’ll sacrifice a bit of modern tech and convenience with an older vehicle, but if reliability is your primary concern the Venza is among the best. An “average” brake score for 2015 is about as bad as this model ever got.
4. Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
In terms of daily operation (engine, transmission, brakes, suspension), you’ll struggle to find an SUV that’s more reliable than the 2014-17 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. Used-vehicle buyers also get a model with a high-quality interior and decent fuel economy.
If you don’t want a Toyota but consider reliability a chief driver of your next car purchase, a Santa Fe Sport should be on your radar. the only flaw that turned up since 2014 was an “average” rating for infotainment.
3. Lexus RX
Consumer Reports always stresses caution when it comes to redesigned vehicles. Usually, automakers need a year or two to get it right, and reliability typically drops a peg or two during that change-over period. But that’s not the case with elite models like the Lexus RX.
Models from 2014-15 (before the exterior makeover) landed the top reliability ratings, as did every other model earlier in the decade. After the 2016 refresh, that barely changed. The latest models take advantage of a new transmission and offer better fuel economy, though used prices will be higher.
2. Toyota Highlander
If your goal is to find the most practical SUV on the new or used market, the Toyota Highlander is probably your best option. Reliability, fuel economy, and owner satisfaction are among the best of any vehicle Consumer Reports rated this decade. (In 2019, Highlander ranked No. 1 of 18 midsize SUVs.)
Poring over the ratings for each element of this model, you won’t find any flaws outside of infotainment since 2014. Model years 2015-17 (following the ’14 redesign) were especially strong.
1. Toyota 4Runner
- Best years: Every year since 2010.
Is the Toyota 4Runner the best midsize SUV? Almost no one believes that. However, this dated model is unanimously the most reliable vehicle (car, truck, or SUV) of the entire decade, so its place on this list is secure.
Since 2014, the only significant flaw found in this vehicle came in the infotainment setup (in only the ’14 model). Otherwise, used vehicle shoppers can’t do better if your goal is having your ride start every morning and stay out of the repair shop.
The one drawback? A used 4Runner holds its value as well as any five-year-old SUV, so used models don’t come cheap.
Most Reliable Used SUV
It is no secret that SUV sales have skyrocketed in the past five years, in particular. Not only has this led to increasing prices across the board, but it has also led to more being built by nearly every manufacturer, resulting in an even more saturated market. Fortunately, this also means that the used market has plenty of models from which to choose.
New SUVs are often too expensive for many people who want or need one to justify a purchase. When this happens, people need to turn to the used market.
Even though used SUV pricing is still relatively high, finding a reliable SUV for less is much easier. Here are several choices to consider.
1. Toyota RAV4:
The stalwart Toyota RAV4 defined the compact SUV segment when it debuted decades ago and remains a top pick today. Like Honda with the rivaling CR-V, Toyota has continued refining the RAV4 to the point that it's now a refined, family-friendly, and reliable vehicle. Hybrid versions have been available for a few years now and offer excellent fuel economy on top of solid reliability scores. The 2017 and 2018 model years stand out as two that score highly in dependability ratings. They are also recent enough to remain desirable in terms of features and options.
Most versions of the RAV4 come with all-wheel drive, an adequately powerful four-cylinder engine, LED headlights, advanced driver aids, and various convenience features. Though Toyota didn't start adding Apple CarPlay to its vehicles until recently, the RAV4's touchscreen infotainment and comfortable interior should be enough to keep it high atop most shoppers' lists.
Browse used Toyota RAV4 listings here.
2. Toyota Highlander:
The Toyota Highlander name, like the smaller RAV4, has been around for a long time. Toyota already had a stellar reputation for dependability when it first appeared 20 years ago, and the Highlander continued the automaker's long run of successes. A quick internet search reveals that the Highlander lands on many publications' most reliable vehicle lists among both new and used models. The 2017 Highlander also made J. D. Power's top five list of most reliable midsize SUVs.
Highlanders bridge the gap between the larger and more expensive Sequoia, another perennial favorite in J. D. Power Rankings and Consumer Reports, and the compact RAV4. They are a favorite buy in place of a minivan and comes with some extra off-road capability that minivans do not have.
If pricing is less of an issue, Highlanders starting with the 2014 model year offer plenty of safety features, a slightly more modern infotainment system, and updated styling. Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and third-row seating are available for each model year, and the Highlander hybrid offers excellent fuel economy for a family SUV.
Browse used Toyota Highlander listings here.
3. Mazda CX-5:
The Mazda CX-5 is the athlete of the compact SUV segment. It is also one of the youngest in the class. Yet, despite its relative newness, the CX-5's slick six-speed transmission, available all-wheel drive, as well as its stellar fuel efficiency make it one of the best used SUVs available.
Used examples are generally less expensive than comparable competitors like the RAV4 or CR-V, yet the Mazda's styling may be more appealing and sophisticated to some buyers. It also has a sportier driving feel and miles-per-gallon advantages thanks to its efficient Skyactiv four-cylinder engine. A 250-horsepower turbocharged engine became available for 2019, while Mazda briefly offered a diesel engine. Furthermore, it sports one of the most stylish and high-quality interiors in the compact SUV class.
Towing capacity, off-road capability, cargo space, and interior space are on the low to average end of the spectrum compared to the competition. Still, the CX-5 is a definite underdog when it comes to used SUVs. Sweetening the pot, Consumer Reports has rated Mazda as one of the most reliable overall manufacturers over the last several years.
Browse used Mazda CX-5 listings here.
4. Toyota 4Runner:
The Toyota 4Runner is somewhat of an outlier on this list since it is considered a midsize SUV but is built as a traditional body-on-frame vehicle like most models from the 1990s. With this in mind, Toyota designed the 4Runner to be more of an off-road-ready Jeep competitor with generous towing capacity rather than a more comfortable car-like crossover, despite the availability of a third-row seat.
Many reviewers knock the 4Runner for its dated powertrain, comparatively poor fuel economy, harsh ride quality, and somewhat lacking interior amenities. Still, all of this simplicity is what makes the 4Runner one of the most reliable and sought-after SUVs on the market. It still outsold the Honda Pilot, and Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Ford Expedition large SUVs in 2020 — all more modern designs and better-equipped models.
Browse used Toyota 4Runner listings here.
5. BMW X3:
BMW sometimes has a checkered history with the reliability of its recent vehicles. But the X3 is an excellent choice if you are looking for a luxury compact crossover. It uses BMW's line of turbocharged four and six-cylinder engines found across its vast lineup, as well as much of the technology and iDrive infotainment system from the company's various models.
Recent X3 models offer high-quality interiors, serious performance options compared to other small SUVs, spacious cargo space for its size, an abundance of safety features, and an intuitive infotainment system across the board. Additionally, all-wheel drive is available on all model years, while standard on higher-end variants.
Browse used BMW X3 listings here.
6. Nissan Rogue:
The Nissan Rogue is the epitome of basic family transportation for those looking to buy a compact crossover SUV. That may sound like a bad thing, but the Rogue's low pricing, plentiful cargo space, well-equipped trim levels, ample passenger space, high safety ratings, and widespread availability make used examples easy to find and own. A third-row seat was briefly offered, but don't look hard for one because the Rogue is best for four or five passengers and a respectable amount of luggage.
Front-wheel-drive comes standard on all models, and all-wheel-drive is available, regardless of the model year. The Rogue isn't a thrilling ride with its middling horsepower figures. Still, its four-cylinder engines are thrifty, and its comfortable ride quality is among the best in its class.
Browse used Nissan Rogue listings here.
7. Kia Soul:
It can be hard to think of the Kia Soul as an SUV, but it is considered a subcompact crossover SUV — the only one on our list. It is only offered with a four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive powertrain, making it one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs available. Its small size also means that its relatively low horsepower output is adequate for everyday driving.
Many will not consider the Soul as a used option because of its boxy shape, but this gives the Soul its massive interior and cargo space relative to its size. It can outclass many larger SUVs as a result. And, because it has always been designed to cater to younger buyers, nearly all models are equipped with fun technology that younger generations will appreciate.
Browse used Kia Soul listings here.
8. Subaru Outback:
Some consider the Subaru Outback to be a wagon rather than an SUV. Despite this, the Outback comes standard with all-wheel-drive and significantly more ground clearance than a car or even most two-row SUV rivals. Until 2020, both four and six-cylinder engines were available (a turbo four-cylinder replaced the six). Consumer Reports has rated the 2018 Outback as one of the most reliable SUVs. Its appearance on more of their top 10 lists throughout the years is a testament to its reliability.
Outbacks have always been designed with adventure in mind. As a result, the off-road capability is reasonably good, and outdoorsy accessories are readily available for the most recent models and older examples. In addition, a long body ensures that plenty of cargo space is available and fuel efficiency is good across the board, considering that all-wheel-drive vehicles usually suffer lower MPG ratings by default.
Browse used Subaru Outback listings here.
9. Kia Sorento:
The Kia Sorento has grown from a two-row, body-on-frame SUV to a three-row, midsize crossover SUV that rides more like a minivan than an SUV. Despite its now comfortable ride, the third row is said to be cramped for most passengers. However, its wide variety of iterations means that used car shoppers can find various Sorento models to fit their needs.
Recent models are much easier to live with than older models since they are much more refined, larger, and offer both front and all-wheel drive powertrain options. Robust V6 engines have always been available on Sorento models, with optional four-cylinder models available for better gas mileage. Though it's brand-new, it may even be possible to locate a used 2021 Sorento Hybrid, which offers great fuel economy for a three-row SUV.
Brand recognition is not as strong as Toyota, Honda, or Subaru, which means resale values are weaker than competitors' models, making the Sorento an even better value considering its generally strong reliability. J.D. Power even awarded the Sorento with several top-five finishes in the most reliable midsize SUV category.
Browse used Kia Sorento listings here.
10. Honda CR-V:
The Honda CR-V is one of the longest-running nameplates on the market today, and for good reasons. Honda has continued improving the vehicle to the point that it's now almost bulletproof from a reliability standpoint and updates to its powertrains in recent years mean that there are fuel-sipping hybrid models available on the used market as well. The CR-V hit a sweet spot for reliability late in the 2000s and into the early 2010s, but almost every model year has scored well over the last two decades.
The CR-V is offered in various well-equipped trim levels, but it's the mid-range EX and EX-L trims that tend to represent the best value, especially in more recent model years. Newer CR-V models get desirable features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, Bluetooth, leather upholstery, and more. Honda's Certified Pre-Owned vehicle program also means plenty of used CR-Vs on dealers' lots that still have life left on their warranties.
Honda's corporate cousin, Acura, also offers reliable SUVs worth a look, though the price points are higher for the three-row MDX and two-row RDX.
Browse used Honda CR-V listings here.
11. Hyundai Tucson:
Hyundai and Kia were once known as the throw-away discount car brand, but both have worked hard to earn buyers' trust and justify their place in the mainstream auto market. Hyundai just unveiled the brand-new 2022 Tucson, but previous model years of the vehicle have traditionally scored well for reliability. The compact crossover has been offered with various powertrains over the years, including solid four-cylinder engines and rowdy turbocharged engines. All-wheel drive is also available for buyers that live in places with snow and ice during parts of the year. Just don't expect a Tucson to be much of a rock crawler.
Recent model-year Tucsons come with tech such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and many come with the latest in advanced driver assistance systems. And the Hyundai Tucson typically stickered for less than popular Honda and Toyota rivals when new, meaning used examples can be excellent value for money.
Browse used Hyundai Tucson listings here.
12. Lexus RX:
The Lexus RX was among the first midsize luxury SUVs on the market, and it remains among the best. Its unflappably reliable powertrains, plush interior, and refined ride have made the RX consistently popular over the years. That means there are numerous examples on the used market. Almost any RX model year is considered above average for reliability. However, vehicles from between 2011 and 2014 carry few complaints and are still new enough to be comfortable and capable in today's world.
Lexus equips the RX with upscale features such as leather upholstery, navigation, a power sunroof, Bluetooth, upgraded stereos, and more. In addition, though most RX models have been powered by a long-running V6 engine and automatic transmission set up, Lexus has offered various gas-electric hybrid options over the years that deliver reasonably good fuel economy on top of their reliability.
Browse used Lexus RX listings here.
Regardless of the size SUV or type of SUV you choose, it's worth shelling out a few hundred dollars before your purchase for an inspection. A reputable mechanic or automotive professional should diagnose any existing issues and give you a good idea of what might be coming down the road. Even the most reliable SUVs can experience problems, and it's best to know about them before purchasing.
According to J.D. Power, these are the crossovers and SUVs that are expected to provide the best reliability over time.
By surveying thousands of new- and used-vehicle owners each year, J.D. Power gathers data regarding what has gone right and what has gone wrong with the cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans that people own.
From this data measuring vehicle quality and dependability, the company creates Power Circle Ratings that provide visual representation of how reliable a vehicle is predicted to be over time. In cases where a model nameplate is new to the market, J.D. Power considers the historical performance of all models offered by the brand in order to establish its likelihood of providing trouble-free motoring in the future.
On the pages that follow, listed in alphabetical order, and according to J.D. Power, are the mass-market crossovers and SUVs that are expected to provide the best reliability over time. Remember, however, that each rating must be compared to other models within a specific vehicle segment, and are not intended for comparison across segments.
2017 Buick Encore
A surprise hit for Buick, the tidy little Encore crossover SUV receives a freshening for the 2017 model year, bringing greater sophistication to its appearance, inside and out. Equipped with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, available all-wheel drive, and a surprisingly roomy interior, the Encore delivers style, practicality, and upscale amenities at an affordable price.
The 2017 Encore receives an overall predicted reliability Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.
2017 Buick Envision
Introduced late in the 2016 model year, the Buick Envision lineup expands for 2017 with a new standard 4-cylinder engine, more trim levels, and a lower price. Built in China, the Envision is a global compact crossover with upscale intentions. Its reliability rating is largely based on the performance of all Buick models in recent years.
The 2017 Envision receives an overall predicted reliability Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.
2017 Chevrolet Equinox
Chevrolet makes no changes to the 2017 Equinox, the compact crossover SUV’s final one before a complete redesign for 2018. Offered with a 4-cylinder or a V-6 engine, and featuring a sliding rear seat that adjusts to make more room for passengers or cargo, the Equinox is not the most technologically sophisticated vehicle, but it sure is reliable.
The 2017 Equinox receives an overall predicted reliability Power Circle Rating of 4.5 out of 5.
2017 GMC Terrain
Under its boxy skin, the GMC Terrain is the same vehicle as the Chevrolet Equinox. The main difference is the exterior styling and the fact that it comes in an upscale Denali trim level. Terrain owners, however, report slightly better quality and reliability with the GMC. A 4-cylinder engine is standard, with a powerful V-6 engine optional. All-wheel drive is also available.
The 2017 Terrain receives an overall predicted reliability Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5.
2017 Hyundai Tucson
Redesigned in 2016, the Hyundai Tucson is an impressive little crossover SUV. People are happy with its reliability, too. Buyers choose from a variety of trim levels and between a standard 4-cylinder and an available turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Highlights for 2017, depending on the trim level, include stain-resistant fabric, rear air conditioning vents, smartphone projection, and a premium sound system.
The 2017 Tucson receives an overall predicted reliability Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.
2017 Kia Sorento
Though small for its segment, the Kia Sorento is a 3-row crossover SUV that packs a big punch in terms of value. You can choose from a wide range of trim levels and drivetrains, from basic to luxurious. For the 2017 model year, the Sorento gains smartphone-projection technology as well as an available automatic emergency braking system.
The 2017 Sorento receives an overall predicted reliability Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.
2017 Toyota Sequoia
Based on the Toyota Tundra full-size pickup truck, the Sequoia is an 8-passenger SUV built for towing lots of weight and hauling lots of people or cargo. The design is aging, a decade old at this point, and the Sequoia isn’t the most technologically sophisticated model in its segment. But it sure is reliable, which counts for plenty.
The 2017 Sequoia receives an overall predicted reliability Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan
Built in Germany, the Volkswagen Tiguan is a reliable compact crossover SUV. Featuring a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, front-wheel or all-wheel drive, and several trim levels, the Tiguan is roomy for people, cramped for cargo, fun to drive, and short on value. A larger, redesigned Tiguan arrives for 2018, intending to resolve some of the SUV’s shortcomings. This older design will continue as the Tiguan Limited.
The 2017 Tiguan receives an overall predicted reliability Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.
Consumer Reports Picks Best and Worst SUVs for 2017
Consumer Reports is one of the most dependable sources for car reviews and reliability. After all, the organization goes one step further than most media outlets and anonymously buys cars (about 60 each year) it then assesses for thousands of miles.
That results in unbiased reviews and accurate reliability data. So when Consumer Reports releases a "best and worst" list based on road tests, we tend to take it seriously.
The consumer magazine has picked the best and worst SUVs its test editors reviewed last year, based on the scores received by the respective models. Consumer Reports bases its scores on ride, handling, braking, acceleration, fuel economy, quietness, interior room, and ease of use — to name just the most important criteria.
Reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety are also included. So, without further ado, here are 2017's winners and losers in the SUV and truck segments.
Subcompact SUVs: Subaru Crosstrek (Best) and Fiat 500X (Worst)
The Crosstrek (sold as the XV in Europe) is essentially a jacked-up previous-generation Impreza that offers a good compromise between basic off-road capabilities and on-road handling. While the ride is stiff, the cabin is rather noisy, and the 148 hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine has to work hard, fuel economy is a reasonable 26 mpg. An all-new model based on the latest Impreza arrives this summer.
As for the Fiat 500X, it shares the platform with the Jeep Renegade but isn't as capable off-road. That was FCA's intention because the 500X was envisioned it as a crossover alternative to the Renegade. Sadly, looks are about the only attractive thing about the 500X. It has a stiff ride, noisy cabin, poor visibility, annoying vibration at idle, and unsupportive seats. Fuel economy (23 mpg overall) is not impressive for a vehicle this size.
Compact SUVs: Subaru Forester (Best) and Jeep Cherokee (Worst)
Another winner from Subaru, the Forester convinced CR test editors with its spacious interior, numerous safety features, impressive crashworthiness, and great visibility. And, with 26 mpg overall, fuel economy is remarkable for a car fitted as standard with AWD. On top of that, the Forester offers a supple ride and secure handling, but engine noise is too high at times. Finally, controls are intuitive and easy to use, as is the recently-updated infotainment system.
In the loser's corner, there's another FCA product, the Jeep Cherokee. Too unrefined in comparison with competitors, the Cherokee comes fitted as standard with a slow 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that returns an embarrassing 22 mpg overall. The nine-speed automatic is neither responsive nor refined, and the ride is bouncy. The best version is the 3.2-liter V6 in Limited trim, with the Trailhawk version targeting off-road enthusiasts. The Cherokee also suffers from below-average reliability.
Midsize SUVs: Toyota Highlander (Best) and Jeep Wrangler (Worst)
See a pattern here? The winner is another Japanese model, the Toyota Highlander, which tops the category thanks to a cushy ride, responsive handling, and generous cabin space — the Highlander can seat up to eight people on three rows of seats. The standard 3.5-liter V6 engine is punchy and got an eight-speed auto for 2017. It returns 20 mpg overall, with the Hybrid offering 25 mph. An array of safety features is standard for 2017.
Despite its remarkable off-road capabilities, the Wrangler lags behind the competition as an everyday vehicle. Ride quality is poor, and handling is cumbersome. Refinement is a strange notion to the Wrangler, which suffers from a noisy interior at highway speeds and uncomfortable seats. The 3.6-liter V6 with the five-speed auto returned just 17 mpg in Consumer Reports' tests. Here's hoping the next Wrangler will be much better.
Large SUVs: Dodge Durango (Best) and Toyota Sequoia (Worst)
Finally a winning FCA product, the Dodge Durango. Combining workhorse utility with many creature comforts, Dodge's big SUV offers responsive handling, a composed ride, a spacious three-row interior, and generous cargo room. The eight-speed automatic is refined and improves performance and fuel economy with both the V6 and V8 engines. Finally, the optional UConnect 8.4-inch infotainment system is one of the best in the segment.
In the opposite corner, the Toyota Sequoia suffers from extremely poor fuel economy (15 mpg), firm ride, and clumsy handling. However, the eight-passenger cabin is massive, although it's a high step-in to get inside.
Luxury Compact SUVs: Porsche Macan (Best) and Land Rover Discovery Sport (Worst)
The verdict is hardly a surprise, for the Macan has topped every comparison test we've seen so far. It's the sports car of the luxury compact SUV segment, offering a steady and controlled ride, a sumptuous cabin, and exhilarating performance — particularly with one of the three 3.0-liter V6 turbo engines that deliver between 340 and 400 hp.
The Discovery Sport is a disappointment coming from the Land Rover brand. The standard four-cylinder turbocharged engine is paired with a lazy and unrefined transmission, the ride is stiff, and handling is not worthy of the "Sport" moniker at all. Furthermore, the cabin is rather modest for a luxury product, and the infotainment system is slow. Reliability is also predicted to be below average. At least it's capable off-road.
Luxury Midsized/Large SUVs: Audi Q7 (Best) and Cadillac Escalade (Worst)
Consumer Reports rates the Audi Q7 as one of the best vehicles they've ever tested. The luxury three-row SUV offers a powerful supercharged 3.0-liter V6 and a very smooth eight-speed auto that deliver effortless acceleration and 20 mpg overall. It's also a very quiet vehicle, with a roomy and high-quality interior. The ride may be a little too firm for some, but Audi also offers an optional air suspension. The handling is responsive and inspires confidence.
It may be the quintessential "bling" SUV, but the Cadillac Escalade lags behind rivals in most areas. It has an overly stiff ride, poor handling, and despite the massive footprint, it doesn't offer a roomy interior. The second-row seats aren't very comfortable, and space is tight on the third row (unless you opt for the longer ESV version). The complicated CUE infotainment system and worst-in-class reliability are also big drawbacks.
Suv 2017 reliable most of
Sometimes a test drive is all it takes to convince ourselves that we really, really do need those doors that automatically unlock or a fancy 10-speaker audio system. Unfortunately, when it comes to car buying, fun choices today can sometimes lead to financial heartbreak tomorrow. After all, every car seems reliable when it's new. So, how can you be sure that the shiny impulse buy sitting in front of the dealership will go the distance without wrecking your bank account along the way?
Long-term road tests are a great starting point. Our team of technical wizards monitor each car we evaluate over the course of 40,000 miles. That allows us to paint a solid picture of initial quality and reliability. What about after that? Fortunately, tools like the J.D. Power dependability ratings help us track how the most common vehicles on today's market hold up over time.
J.D. Power gets its data by following more than 80,000 drivers for three years of vehicle ownership. All of that information is complied, analyzed, and ultimately organized by what the company calls the quality and reliability score. We used this number to rate each of the award winners, with a higher score indicating fewer reported problems during the duration of the evaluation period.
2016 Ford Expedition – Quality and Reliability: 75
Smiling kids, Kool-Aid stains, and curb rash—all in a day's work for the Ford Expedition full-size powerhouse, now in its 14th year of service. Although it's the least of the most reliable, according to J.D. Power, it's impossible to argue with the Expedition's track record. Rode hard and put away wet, a large number of these family-friendly SUVs continue to roam America's pick-up and drop-off lanes while boasting stratospheric numbers on their odometers. During our 2018 test, we enjoyed the latest Expedition's engine and transmission options but were less than impressed by its lagging fuel economy. Still, for those whose space requirements fall just below that of a school bus, the Expedition is as viable a choice as it has always been.
2016 Audi Q3 – Quality and Reliability: 80
The Audi Q3 is a baby luxury crossover. Originally based on Volkswagen Audi Group's modular PQ35 platform and now on the MQB platform, the Q3 shares much of its underpinnings with the company's small sedan and coupe offerings. Though reliability hasn't always been Audi's strong suit, the Q3's impressive score can likely be attributed to its widespread use of modular VW parts-bin components. Stacked against a BMW X1, the new Q3 received positive remarks for its lively steering feel and respectable skidpad performance. It also proved more spacious in both the front and rear rows than the BMW, although cargo room was more limited.
2016 Volkswagen Tiguan – Quality and Reliability: 83
It's no surprise that the 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan slid in only one slot ahead of the Audi. Having shared a platform with the Q3, the once-small Volkswagen SUV did a good job combining efficiency, sportiness, and practicality. The current Tiguan, however, has gone through a metamorphosis, sprouting a third row and reshaping itself into something more closely resembling a mid-size SUV. Our test of a brightly colored, front-wheel drive example revealed an abundance of utility and efficiency. Unfortunately, this came at the cost of performance and driving pleasure as VW attempts to cater to a new class of buyer with the Tiguan line.
2016 Hyundai Santa Fe – Quality and Reliability: 85
In our 2017 review, we complimented the Hyundai Santa Fe for its interior comfort and available technology. Three years later, it's nice to know it has the goods in the reliability department as well. Hyundai has come far since its mid-'80s introduction into the United States market, and today it offers some of the highest value vehicles in the SUV and entry-level luxury segments.
And while the 2016 Santa Fe was born in the shadow of old Hyundai, the current version is an example of how the Korean car manufacturer has hit its stride. In our latest mid-size crossover comparo, the 2019 Santa Fe scored a second-place finish for its features, value, and practicality.
2016 BMW X3 – Quality and Reliability: 87
Back when BMW only offered one small SUV, the X3 was lauded for its simplicity, driving etiquette, and stylish looks. Available in both gas and diesel models for 2016, it has proven to be one of the most practical vehicles in BMW's lineup. And amazingly, the company's legendary inline-six has not only managed to stand the test of time but continuously become more impressive. A prime example is the 2020 X3 M we tested last year, which came equipped with BMW's new S58 3.0-liter inline-six. In Competition trim, the twin-turbo makes 503 horsepower and is capable of carrying the small SUV to 60 mph in just 3.3 seconds. Yes, 3.3 seconds.
2016 Kia Soul – Quality and Reliability: 88 (tie)
The relationship between the Kia Soul and small rodents will forever be a mystery to many of us. Yet, it's hard to argue with the success of the company's iconic ad campaign, which helped put more than a million of the baby SUVs on U.S. roads. Small, simple, and cheap, the toaster-shaped machine seems to provide those who drive it the satisfaction that the Scion xB never could. It's not surprising then that the Soul made J.D. Power's reliability short list while also holding the distinction of being a Car and Driver10Best Trucks and SUVs alumni.
2016 Lexus GX 460 – Quality and Reliability: 88 (tie)
With the reliability of a bottle opener and the swagger of, well, a Lexus, the GX is nothing short of sport-utility brilliance. Yes, our 2016 GX 460 test highlighted its archaic design and clumsy road manners, so it's easy to see how the layman could easily dismiss the mid-range GX as nothing more than a really expensive 4Runner. However, for those who can enjoy both confit de canard and watching their pinstriped truck's odometer roll back over to zero, the GX leaves little to be desired. For 2020 the old tool gets a splash of minor upgrades, mostly in the aesthetics department. Still, it continues to embody the spirit of its Toyota roots regardless of a $54,000 base price.
2016 Chevrolet Equinox – Quality and Reliability: 93
Most Reliable Cars: Sedans, Coupes, Hatchbacks
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