Plenty of choices from sedans to pickups.
If you're looking for a new-to-you vehicle but you aren't quite sure what you need yet, it makes sense to look at different car brand options to help guide you on your search. To help out, we've compiled this list of the 21 most reliable car brands for 2020 shoppers, based on RepairPal reliability ratings. RepairPal's ratings are based on the actual cost, frequency, and severity of unscheduled repairs and maintenance on make/model data for select 2010–2019 vehicles. The reliability of a specific vehicle may vary depending on its maintenance and driving history, model year, trim, and features.1
To determine these rankings, each year RepairPal examines repair tickets from over 2,000 auto repair shops in the U.S. Each vehicle’s dependability is rated by averaging data from millions of actual auto shop invoices. While repair cost plays a part in the rating, having a higher average cost does not necessarily mean a vehicle is less reliable. For example, parts and labor for a luxury vehicle may be more expensive, but if the severity of the repair and number of trips to the shop are minimal, that can positively impact a car’s reliability rating. This list shows a snapshot of RepairPal’s highest rated car brands, while many other car brands are also highly rated as reliable.
With our wide selection of vehicle brands and car types, CarMax is a great place to start your search. Whether you're looking for peace of mind in your new ride or just want to explore your options, you're in the right place. As you consider your next vehicle, read on to see which car brands RepairPal rated most reliable.
Starting the list is Ford, a brand with a range of vehicles as varied as its history. The great thing about Ford is the fact that you can find pretty much any vehicle to suit your needs. From the small and nimble Ford Fiesta, which has plenty of great used options available (the model was discontinued at the end of 2019), to the classic muscle car Ford Mustang and hulking pickup F-Series—there's something for everyone with a Ford.
If it's an SUV you're after, Ford also has a number of great options including the nimble Ford Edge, the family-friendly Flex, and the off-road-ready Explorer.
Chevrolet is another brand with a long heritage. There's thrilling muscle in the shape of the Camaro, which features engines up to 650 horsepower (2018 ZL1 model) as well as the choice of other V6s and V8s across the model years. If you're looking for a daily driver, the Malibu or the Impala would make a great companion thanks to the wealth of choices available across trims and model years.
With a range of offerings, the Dodge brand has a lot to offer if you're looking for a performance sedan.
The Dodge Challenger is the obvious choice if you want something with a bit of roar, but if you need a little bit more space, take a look at the Dodge Charger. It's a full-size sedan that doesn't shy away from Dodge's muscle-car heritage. With a range of V6 and V8 engine options (up to 707 hp on 2019 models), you're bound to find the one that's right for you.
Fiat is known for its small hatchback, the Fiat 500, which is perfect if you regularly drive around the city and need something that's easily maneuverable. On top of this nimble city car, you'll also find a sport option (the Fiat 500 Abarth), a crossover (the Fiat 500 L), and a convertible sports car (the Fiat 124 Spider).
One thing all these cars have in common is style. From the curves of the Fiat 500 to the sleek lines of the 124 Spider, these are cars that turn heads.
Volvo is known for comfortable cars that fit seamlessly into any lifestyle. So whether you're looking for a smart daily driver like the S60 sedan or a go-anywhere SUV like the XC90, you're bound to find the vehicle that fits your needs.
You'll also find plenty of standard tech throughout, including some driver-assist features. Step up to higher trims (such as R-Design trim on the 2019 S60), and you'll also find premium sound systems.
This luxury car brand has a lot to offer if you're looking for high-end interiors, powerful powertrain options, and plenty of tech throughout.
The SUV range starts with the smaller QX50, which is as comfortable as it is functional, and builds up to the QX80, which has seating for up to eight (all model years) so your family and friends can come along for the ride.
If you want something a little sportier, the Infiniti Q60 is a sleek coupe with a choice of two engines across second-gen models (2017–2019); choose from either a standard 2.0L turbocharged engine (Pure and Luxe models) or a 3.0L turbocharged Nissan VR engine (Sport and Red Sport models).
At number 15 on RepairPal’s list of reliability ratings the Jeep brand is perhaps most famous for its open-air 4x4 Wrangler, and offers a wide range of AWD vehicles.
You can seek adventure in the Grand Cherokee, though it's equally suited to trips to the grocery store. For something a little more rugged, take a look at the Wrangler, which was updated in 2018 for its fourth generation. Even the more modern versions (from 2018) of this 4x4 include the option of removable hard and soft tops so you can feel the wind in your hair.
Every Subaru comes with AWD, which is great news if you regularly have to go off the beaten path or need to tackle inclement weather.
The great thing about every model coming with AWD means that you're not limited to an SUV or crossover. The WRX sedan takes its styling from the brand's vast rally legacy but you can step all the way up to the Forester or Outback for true 4x4 ruggedness.
Buick has a long history in America, going as far back as 1899. Today, it's known for luxury cars, crossovers, SUVs, and sedans. This means you're bound to find a vehicle that fits your needs from Buick.
The Regal sedans are perfect if you need a comfortable daily driver, but it's the three-row Enclave that stands out for maximum practicality. The high-end Avenir trim (2018–forward models) features a range of technology including a wireless charging pad and a second eight-inch driver information screen, in addition to the standard infotainment screen.
This is another brand that has a wide range of vehicles available to match your needs. If you're a city-dweller who needs maximum cargo space but would prefer something small to navigate city streets, the Golf is the car for you. The hatchback body shape means you'll get 22.8 cu-ft of space behind the rear seats and 52.7 cu-ft with the seats folded (2012–forward models).
If you need even more space, look to the wagon version of the Golf, the SportWagen and the Alltrack, or set your sights on a Volkswagen SUV such as the Tiguan.
This family-friendly brand is a great choice if you're looking for something to haul passengers in comfort. The Chrysler Pacifica is a minivan with room for up to eight passengers, making it an excellent option for families or large groups. 2017 and onward models of the Pacifica feature handy Stow 'n Go® seats to make use of every inch of space.
Chrysler also offers a full-size sedan in the shape of the Chrysler 300, which offers an available V8 engine (all model years) if you fancy a spirited drive to the office or to the grocery.
At number ten on RepairPal’s list of reliability ratings is the micro urban Smart car brand. Although they are no longer available new in the USA, there are a wide range of used models for sale. The Smart Fourtwo is a tiny car that's big on style and perfect if you regularly navigate tight parking spots and narrow streets. Look out for 2009’s convertible Cabrio trim if you enjoy cruising around in style.
In 2018, the brand switched to electric-only, meaning Smart models after this year are only available with an electric motor. Look out for 2017 and earlier models if you prefer the gasoline engine.
Nissan's range of practical sedans features well-known vehicles like the Versa, Sentra, Altima, and Maxima. Family favorites include the Nissan Rogue, Pathfinder and Armada but these SUVs are also great if you love adventure and need a vehicle that's happy off-road.
Nissan's electric car, the LEAF, is a great choice if you're looking for something that fits your eco-conscious lifestyle.
With an emphasis on tech, Toyota's vehicles are extremely practical. From standard driver-assist features across many models to a range of available hybrid models, Toyota is a brand to consider for your next vehicle.
The Corolla and Camry are perhaps the most well-known names in Toyota's sedan stable and they make fantastic commuter cars. If you need something a little larger, the Land Cruiser is a go-anywhere 4x4 with plenty of standard features including a premium sound system and four-zone automatic climate control (2019 models).
This luxury brand has evolved over the years and is now also known for its hybrid and electric models. This means you can get a powerful, high-end vehicle without sacrificing mpg; for example, the 2019 Lexus RX 450h gets an EPA-estimated 30 mpg combined with its 308-hp V6 hybrid engine.2 Look out for the 'h' on the end of the model names to quickly work out whether you're looking at a hybrid model.
If it's gasoline power you're looking for, you've got plenty of choices too—from the RC 350 sedan to the RX 350 SUV. Or, if you're looking for a thrill, there's the LS 500 F-Sport, with its 3.5L V6 (2019 models).
These road-trip-ready cars are built for adventure. So whether you're trekking off into the wilderness, or just want something suitable for the campsite, take a look at Mitsubishi.
The Outlander is perhaps the most practical of these vehicles with three rows and a total cargo capacity is 63.3 cu-ft behind the front seats (2016–2019 models). There's also a plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander available.
It's not all adventure, though, if you're looking for a simple, practical car there's the Mirage that comes in hatchback and sedan body shapes (both available from 2013).
Coming in at number five on RepairPal’s Reliability Ratings list is Mazda. There's a range of crossovers and SUVs to choose from in the Mazda lineup, including the compact CX-5, which makes a great road trip companion thanks to its quiet, comfortable ride.
Possibly the most famous car in Mazda's history is the MX-5 Miata, a drop-top roadster that’s the epitome of style. There's also the Mazda3, which is a fun compact car with a standard 155-hp 2.0L engine (2017–2018 models). It has all the style of the Miata with a little more practicality thrown in.
Hyundai has a huge catalog including SUVs, sedans, compacts, and electric vehicles. This means you've got plenty of choices when it comes to choosing the right used car for you.
At one end of the spectrum, there's the Hyundai Santa Fe, a five-passenger SUVthat is the largest available Hyundai through the 2019 model year. At the other end of the spectrum is the compact Velostar hatchback that seats four.
With interesting exterior design and lots of standard features, Kia stands out for its great SUVs and practical sedans.
At the smaller end, there's the Kia Sportage crossover that features a standard suite of driver aids (2017–2019 models) including blind-spot detection and lane-keeping assist. But if you need something a bit more rugged, take a look at the 2019 Kia Telluride.
If you're looking for a premium car or SUV, Acura is a wonderful choice. These feature-packed vehicles offer plenty from the base level. For example, 2019 models of the RDX SUV feature a 10.2-inch display, Apple CarPlay® compatibility, and a rearview camera all as standard.
All Acura sedan models have a sporty edge to them, with the RLX boasting a 310-hp V6 mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission (2018–forward models).
At the top of the RepairPal Reliability Ratings list is Honda. Its well-known vehicles include the Honda Civic, which can be found as a sedan, hatchback, or coupe, depending on what model years you're considering.
Other notable models include the Honda Accord sedan, the compact Honda Fit, and the Honda CR-V, which—starting with 2017 models—is also available as a hybrid. If you're after something a little larger, there's the Honda Ridgeline, a smooth-running pickup that's just as suited to the school run as it is to the job site.
This list of the most reliable car brands for 2020 shoppers is a great starting point to help you decide which brand of vehicle is right for you. With so much to choose from, it's easy to find the car that matches your lifestyle whether you're looking for a city run-around, a practical crossover, or an off-road-ready pickup.
1RepairPal Reliability Ratings are provided by RepairPal and CarMax is not responsible for their accuracy. These ratings are based on RepairPal Reliability data as of 09/04/2020. Learn more at www.carmax.com/repairpal-reliability.
2Fuel economy figures are based on EPA estimates for when vehicle sold as new. Fuel economy may vary for reasons like driving conditions and vehicle history. Unless specified, figures are for vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission. See fueleconomy.gov for details.
Unless otherwise noted, information related to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.