Consumer Reports’ Most Reliable Small Cars of 2018

If you’re shopping for a new compact or subcompact car, you’ll be looking at some of the most affordable vehicles on the U.S. market. However, purchase price won’t matter much if the car is unreliable or expensive to maintain.

That’s where Consumer Reports reliability ratings help. After sending out surveys to vehicle owners and compiling testing data, the nonprofit weighs in on the real-world dependability of each car. For 2018, well-known models such as Ford Focus, Nissan Sentra, and Volkswagen Jetta fell short.

Altogether, only three compact and one subcompact cars landed top reliability scores. (A handful of others rated above average.) Here are the six most reliable small cars of 2018.

6. Nissan Versa

2018.5 Nissan Versa sedan | Nissan
  • Predicted reliability: Above-average

It’s hard to find anything good to say about the Nissan Versa, but Consumer Reports did acknowledge strong predicted reliability. That came from owner feedback and past performance, though there is minimal detailed information to work with.

As for owner satisfaction or drive experience, Versa couldn’t score worse. Anyone who’s gotten behind the wheel of this car knows what a chore driving it can be. However, you can’t ignore Versa’s bargain price ($12,310) and solid reliability.

5. Kia Forte

2018 Kia Forte | Kia
  • Predicted reliability: Above-average

The 2018 Kia Forte is only one of five small cars to land the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award for the year. On top of that honor, Consumer Reports named it one of the most reliable cars in the compact class.

Overall, there’s hardly anything that suggests this car will give you trouble. (Over the past four years, only in-car entertainment and fit/finish did.) At a starting price of $16,800, you can do much worse.

4. Toyota Yaris iA

2017 Toyota Yaris iA
2018 Toyota iA | Toyota
  • Predicted reliability: The best

Only one subcompact car landed a top reliability score for 2018, and it’s the Toyota iA. Actually a former Scion car built on the Mazda2 platform, this model features excellent fuel economy.

Though Consumer Reports doesn’t have detailed data on this one, earlier scores from this vehicle afford it the benefit of the doubt. It starts at $15,950.

3. Mazda3

Profile view of gray Mazda3
2018 Mazda3 | Mazda
  • Predicted reliability: The best

In the compact class, Mazda3 ($18,095) was a standout yet again. For the seventh straight year, this well-reviewed model landed the top reliability score.

The only minor trouble the 3 gave owners in recent years came from the infotainment system. Otherwise, mechanical reliability has been near perfect. For these reasons (and the Mazda3’s drive experience), owner satisfaction scores remained high.

2. Hyundai Elantra

2018 Hyundai Elantra | Hyundai
  • Predicted reliability: The best

On the reliability front, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra landed the top score for the third straight year. That was impressive for several reasons.

For starters, Elantra got a redesign in 2017. Normally, that leads Consumer Reports to expect diminished reliability. (If you’re wondering why, check out Tesla’s growing pains in this department.)

Meanwhile, only a few other cars came close. Owners reported zero trouble spots for the past two years.

1. Toyota Corolla

2018 Toyota Corolla LE Eco and Corolla XSE | Toyota
  • Predicted reliability: The best

As the top-rated compact car, people come to expect stellar reliability from the Toyota Corolla ($18,700). In fact, this model has actually improved in recent years. Owners gave it the highest possible score in every area Consumer Reports asked for feedback.

So will the Corolla excite you? Probably not, but we doubt anyone buys it for that reason. As far as dependability and practicality go, good luck finding something that tops a Corolla.

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