Are Toyota and Honda Really the Most Reliable Car Brands?

With how expensive new vehicles are getting, not to mention the rising cost of repairs, consumers want to get their money’s worth. With the average car spending 8.4 years on the road, Range Rover reliability isn’t going to cut it. Vehicle reliability depends on a variety of factors, and even the best brands can sometimes slip up. But, although blind brand loyalty isn’t recommended, there are some car brands that overall are more reliable than most.

The most reliable cars and brands according to iSeeCars

Online used-car site iSeeCars recently released its car reliability survey results. iSeeCars wanted to find out which vehicles most-commonly travel over 200,000 miles. The site looked into over 13.8 million vehicles sold new in 2018 and found that, on average, 0.8% of all vehicles reach 200k+ miles.

2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro
2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro | Toyota

The longest-lasting vehicles were SUVs, especially body-on-frame ones. In fact, the top 10 most-reliable vehicles on iSeeCars‘ list are all SUVs.  The single most-reliable vehicle was the Toyota Sequoia: 7.4% of Sequoias sold in 2018 reached 200,000 miles. Two more Toyota SUVs were also on the list: the 4Runner in 5th place and the Highlander hybrid in 7th.

2019 Chevrolet Suburban RST Performance Package
2019 Chevrolet Suburban RST Performance Package | Chevrolet

Although, American SUVs were well-represented on list, too. GM captured the #2, #4, #6, and #9 spots with the Chevy Suburban (5%), GMC Yukon XL (4%), Chevy Tahoe (3.8%), and GMC Yukon (2.8%), respectively. Interestingly, that’s a slight change-up from Consumer Reports’ findings: CR found the Tahoe and Yukon to be more reliable than their larger versions. There were only two Ford SUVs: the #3 Expedition (5%), and the Lincoln Navigator, in 14th place (2.2%).

Honda Ridgeline Black Edition
Honda Ridgeline Black Edition | Honda

But there were some other vehicles on iSeeCars’ longest-lasting list. There were 3 trucks, all from Japanese automakers: the Honda Ridgeline received 8th place (3%), and the Toyota Tacoma and Tundra won 10th and 11th place, respectively (2.6% for both). There was also one sedan, the Toyota Avalon, in 12th place (2.5%); the Honda Odyssey minivan won 13th place (2.5%).

2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD
2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD | Toyota

iSeeCars also determined the longest-lasting trucks, passenger cars, hybrids, luxury cars, and sports cars. From that, the site was able to determine which were the most reliable car brands. And taking the #1 and #2 spots were Toyota and Honda, respectively. 1.7% of all 2018 Toyotas traveled over 200,000 miles, along with 1.5% of all Hondas.

What makes Honda’s and Toyota’s cars so reliable?

It isn’t that surprising to see Toyota’s vehicles, especially its trucks and SUVs, so high on the list.

2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road Premium
2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road Premium | Toyota

Part of the reason why the 4Runner and Sequoia are so reliable is that Toyota hasn’t really updated their platforms significantly. Ditto the Tundra and Tacoma. Although that does result in some critiques of dated interiors or powertrains, it also means that Toyota’s focused on ironing-out any kinks or quirks. iSeeCars’ CEO, Phong Ly, specifically quoted these vehicles’ truck-based platforms as the reason for Toyota’s #1 position.

That’s not to say the 4Runner and Tacoma are flawless—both have had issues in the past, some severe enough to require massive recalls. But at least some of these issues stem from simple age: some owners keep their 4Runners so long, rubber suspension and differential components start to disintegrate.

2019 Honda Civic Sedan Touring
2019 Honda Civic Sedan Touring | Honda

It’s more difficult to ascribe a specific reason to Honda’s reputation as a reliable car brand. The automaker has, like Toyota, had its share of problematic vehicles, especially with the Pilot SUV. Nevertheless, Honda has a lot to offer when it comes to practical, every-day vehicles. The compact Civic beats out the Corolla, as the CR-V does the RAV4. And all Honda would have to do to really level the playing field with the Camry is offer AWD.

2019 Honda CR-V
2019 Honda CR-V | Honda

However, it’s also possible that Toyota’s and Honda’s ranking on iSeeCars’ most reliable car brands list is in part due to sales figures. Toyota and Honda have both seen increased sales in many of their vehicles’ segments, including in sedans. Mathematically, if there are more Toyotas and Hondas on the road, more of them will reach 200,000 miles.

And it might be those sales numbers that explain why Honda and Toyota aren’t Consumer Reports’ best car brands.

Consumer Reports’ best brands

2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo SE-Hybrid | Porsche
2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo SE-Hybrid | Porsche

In its ranking of the best car brands, CR rated Porsche at #1, Genesis at #2, with Subaru at #3. That’s because, as The Drive reported, CR recommended every single Porsche and Genesis vehicle it tested. The only Subaru not to get a recommendation was the WRX, for worse-than-average reliability.

2021 Genesis GV80 SUV | Genesis
2021 Genesis GV80 SUV | Genesis

Porsche has already won a similar award from US News, and it’s also significantly improved its Cayenne SUV’s reliability. And Genesis’ latest line of vehicles shows it has a lot to offer in terms of affordable luxury.

2020 Subaru Forester Limited
2020 Subaru Forester Limited | Subaru

Interestingly, Mazda was ranked #4, although it was ahead of the previous 3 in terms of predicted reliability. CR also determined it was a more reliable car brand than Toyota or Honda. That being said, CR found Toyota’s reliability to be above average, while Honda’s was merely average.

Tesla Model 3
Tesla Model 3 | Tesla

Although the Honda Ridgeline and several Toyota vehicles appeared on CR’s Best New Cars list, Toyota is only the #12 car brand on CR’s list. In fact, it’s behind Tesla, which is the highest-ranked American car brand. Honda, meanwhile, ranked #15, behind Lincoln (#13) and Infiniti (#14). Honda’s CR-V was also beaten out by the Subaru Forester in CR’s $25,000-$30,000 ‘Best New Car’ category.

So, if you’re going for reliability, Toyota and Honda have a lot to offer. But reliability isn’t necessarily enough to make them the best choice.

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