Asian Car Brands Are the Most Reliable, According to Consumer Reports

Reliability is an important consideration when buying a new car. Well-built, fuel-efficient cars with solid advanced safety features and warranty coverage can reduce your risk of accidents or breakdowns. Moreover, they can keep your long-term ownership costs low. And if you’re looking for some of the most reliable cars on the market, Consumer Reports says you’d do well to start with a model from an Asian automaker.

Cars for sale at a dealership lot.
Hyundai Motor Co. vehicles sit on display for sale | Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

How Consumer Reports evaluates vehicle reliability

USA Today recently noted that cars manufactured by Asian automakers are the most reliable vehicles on the market. They cited the reliability rankings of long-time consumer advocacy organization Consumer Reports, whose recent reliability report ranked vehicles using data from over 300,000 models.

Consumer Reports uses data from an annual survey it releases to its members. Using data it obtains on a vehicle’s last three model years, it derives of reliability score for a specific vehicle. This score incorporates respondent feedback on 17 different vehicle system components, which may necessitate repairs. These areas include the transmission, engine, brakes, drive system, and more.

Using this data, readers of the report can clearly see that Asian automaker-manufactured cars scored higher than those manufactured in Europe or the U.S. Of the top 10 brands, either Korean or Japanese companies manufactured seven. And based on these vehicle scores, Consumer Reports compiled a list of the most reliable brands: those with the largest number of vehicles with high reliability scores.

The number one most reliable vehicle brand on their list was Toyota, followed by their luxury brand Lexus at number two. Mazda took the number four spot, followed by Honda at number five, Subaru at seven, and Honda’s luxury brand Acura at eight.

How Korean automakers fared in the reliability report

While Japanese automakers dominated the top 10, Korean automakers didn’t fare too badly either, with Kia, Genesis, and Hyundai making the list. Kia was the ninth most reliable of the 24 automakers assessed, driven by popular and well-built models like the Telluride and the Sportage. Kia’s new electric vehicle, the EV6, also has a high reliability score, helping the company’s overall reliability ranking.

New luxury brand Genesis was also on the list and notched the 12th spot. It’s surprising that a brand that’s been around just over half a decade could place higher in reliability than most cars manufactured in Europe or the U.S. But with its stylish upscale sedans and SUVs, the Hyundai-owned company apparently offers far more dependable vehicles than those coming from Motor City.

Ironically, Genesis offers even more reliable vehicles than its parent brand does. Hyundai also made the list but landed at number 13. Still, it’s not a bad place to be, considering both brands best the likes of Volvo, Cadillac, Ford, and Tesla, among many others.

What’s the least reliable Asian car brand?

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What Do Consumer Reports’ Car Reliability Ratings Mean?

There’s one more Asian auto brand that made the list. It did not make the very end of the list. According to Consumer Reports, that distinction goes to Mercedes-Benz, which at number 24, is the least reliable auto brand. No, the least reliable Asian auto brand still outpaced many of its other global rivals by a long stretch in this category.

However, at number 15, Nissan is Consumer Reports’ least reliable Asian auto brand. And while the automaker certainly offers some popular vehicles, among them the Rogue, Sentra, and Altima, the Nissan models aren’t the most dependable.

Some chalk this up to Nissan’s partnership with automaker Renault, which itself doesn’t have a great reputation for reliability. While Nissans will provide competitive fuel economy, many owners have reported multiple problems with major systems, necessitating costly repairs.

Despite Nissan’s relatively poor showing, you can still get great value from an Asian auto brand. With few expected repairs, low maintenance costs, excellent warranty packages, and good fuel efficiency, you’d be wise to make sure there are at least one or two Asian auto brands you test drive when you search for your next car.