As a guide for new car purchases, you can’t do much better than the annual Consumer Reports reliability survey. After putting hundreds of vehicles through a battery of tests and collecting feedback from owners of previous editions, the nonprofit agency hands out verdicts on the best and worst for each model year.
Practicality is the name of the game here. You might get a better idea of the thrills of driving a new Mustang from some other source, but when you’re talking about starting the car every morning and it staying in one piece, Consumer Reports’ annual report is your best bet. Here are the only nine SUVs to land the coveted top reliability ranking for 2018.
9. Toyota Sequoia
If you’re looking for a large SUV for 2018, the list with the top reliability rankings is short. In fact, the new Toyota Sequoia was the only model to score well above the average. Other top sellers like Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL ended up on the list of least reliable SUVs in the latest survey. Sequoia, for its part, turned in a near-perfect score for the third straight year.
8. Buick Encore
While a glut of new “entry-level luxury” crossovers hit the market in 2017, only two nabbed the top reliability rating. Buick Encore made that elite list by maintaining its excellent score from the previous two years. It may be one of the least-American cars to wear a Detroit badge, but buyers can expect it to start every morning. That should count for something.
7. Toyota 4Runner
You can count on Toyota or Lexus to nab the title of most reliable brand every year, and they once again placed first and second, respectively, for 2018. In the case of the 4Runner midsize SUV, there was hardly any suspense for a model that landed its 13th consecutive top score from Consumer Reports. You may have some other problem with this vehicle, but you can be sure of it running for the foreseeable future.
6. Toyota Highlander
Highlander might not have the flawless record of 4Runner in the reliability rankings, but it holds its own with four straight years nabbing the top rating. In a segment where Dodge Journey, Jeep Wrangler, and Mazda CX-9 (the worst in its class) landed in the basement, Toyota two midsize SUVs set the standard for 2018. These results should not surprise many shoppers.
5. Subaru Forester
In one of America’s hottest segments, Subaru Forester broke through to end up among the most reliable SUVs overall. Since this model’s redesign for 2014, Forester has received top scores from Consumer Reports every year. Besides the reliability ratings, Subaru’s compact SUV had a perfect owner satisfaction score and an 85 out of 100 in the road test. You can hardly recommend a vehicle more.
4. Honda CR-V
For the second straight year, the top-selling Honda CR-V landed the top reliability rating as well. Remarkably, each of the last three redesigns — in ’12, ’15, and ’17 — somehow got through without scoring below average. That’s especially hard to do because automakers always have some type of problem spring up with all-new models. Just look at Tesla’s record on that front.
3. Toyota RAV4
The 2018 Toyota RAV4 not only topped the compact SUV segment for reliability; it also made one of Consumer Reports’ 10 best overall for the year. Overall, RAV4 got the top reliability score for its 10 consecutive year. In other words, if you look at new models and decide you can’t afford one, buy a used RAV4 with confidence. With some care, it should keep running.
2. Audi Q3
You don’t see the Mercedes GLA or BMW subcompacts on this list, but Audi Q3 managed to make No. 2 for reliability in 2018. That rating marked the third time in four years when Q3 got a full-throated endorsement from Consumer Reports. A fussy in-car electronics system might be the only area that gives owners trouble in this German crossover.
1. Kia Niro
It may be barely a year old, but Consumer Reports named Kia Niro is the most reliable vehicle overall for the 2018 model year. Niro’s claim to fame starts with fuel economy, and its tests in that department yielded 43 mpg overall with 52 mpg on the highway. Think of it as the Prius crossover, only manufactured by Kia rather than Toyota. Though the concept may be obvious, Niro is basically alone on the market as a fuel-sipping utility model under $30,000.
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