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How car reliability varies by vehicle type

How car reliability varies by vehicle type

Paying more for a new car doesn’t guarantee that it will be reliable. Fuel-efficient hatchbacks, wagons, compact sports sedans, compact pickups, and small SUVs are the most reliable vehicles according to our 2012 Annual Auto Survey, which is based on our subscribers’ experiences with 1.2 million vehicles. Upscale cars, minivans and luxury SUVs are among the least reliable.

All nine of the fuel-efficient hatchbacks and all 10 wagons have average or above-average predicted reliability. Minivans are near the bottom of the list, but there are not as many minivan options and only half of the 10 upscale cars are reliable. See how the other vehicle categories fare below based on their average predicted reliability score (percent better or worse than the average car).

Car type Average predicted reliability score
Fuel-efficient hatchbacks 50
Wagons 37
Compact sports sedans 25
Compact pickups 25
Small SUVs 24
Small hatchbacks 24
Family cars 14
Coupes & convertibles 4
Small cars 2
Upscale compact SUVs -1
Full-sized pickups -7
Luxury cars -7
Large SUVs -10
Midsized SUVs -11
Sporty cars -13
Luxury SUVs -16
Minivans -21
Upscale cars -26

When it comes to buying a new car, you do not need to spend top dollar. However, it does pay to do your research and find the model that meets Consumer Reports’ stringent requirements to be recommended, as well as suits your budget.

For more details on our 2012 Annual Auto Survey, including the full list of most and least reliable new cars by vehicle type, see our complete car reliability report. Also, check out our guide to car reliability for more details on new and used car reliability.

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