How Mazda Outranked Toyota and Lexus As the Most Reliable Car Brand

 is rising in popularity these days. This Japanese carmaker especially impressed reviewers in 2020, thanks to its lineup of sporty and upscale models. And as the year comes to a close, Mazda scored another win: it just outranked Toyota and Lexus as the most reliable car brand for the first time. 

What makes Mazda the most reliable car brand?

Mazda logo in front of a modern office building
Mazda Office | Mazda

Consumer Reports recently updated its list of most reliable car brands with Mazda at the very top. CR’s reliability rankings demonstrate how well vehicles have lasted and the likelihood that owners could experience increased problems and repairs. Essentially, Mazda has emerged as the most dependable brand by sticking to the same formula. 

CR gave Mazda an overall model score of 83. Toyota and Lexus come in at second and third with scores of 74 and 71, respectively. These carmakers fare better than most because of their conventional way of building cars. They are among the most cautious with their model redesigns and new product launches. 

“We think that car buyers should expect a new car to be entirely problem-free in its first months or years of service. While the difference between two ratings may be small, a pattern of several less-than-perfect trouble spots in a brand-new car should be cause for concern and does not bode well for a model’s long-term reliability.”

Consumer Reports

Mazda’s conservative approach to carmaking 

A red 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature vs. a gray 2016 Mazda CX-5 Sport
2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature vs. 2016 Mazda CX-5 Sport | Matthew Skwarczek

As CR noted, Mazda’s entire lineup benefits from shared powertrains and in-car tech features. The company only makes modest changes each year, which is the critical factor in its success. CR gave each Mazda an above-average ranking for reliability. While Toyota and Lexus are still among the best, a few of their models held them back from achieving the top spot this year. 

Most Toyotas have excellent dependability scores. However, Toyota’s RAV4 once again received an average score, reflecting the SUV’s minor problems with its transmission, fuel system, and infotainment system CR also says that most Lexus models are outstanding. Nevertheless, Lexus’ LS sedan brought the company down by two points compared to last year. CR gave the LS a below-average rating for issues associated with its engine, transmission, fuel system, and in-car electronics.

 What is Mazda’s most reliable car?

2020 Mazda Mx-5 Miata driving around downtown
2020 Mazda Mx-5 Miata | Mazda

Mazda’s MX-5 Miata has CR’s highest predicted reliability rating with an overall score of 98. This ranking is unsurprising since the fourth-generation Miata stays true to the original blueprint. Enthusiasts rave about the Miata’s zippy engine, and many prefer the car’s standard six-speed manual over the available automatic transmission. Mazda also made this classic more attractive for 2020 by adding more standard safety features, including blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning.

A red 2021 Mazda CX-30 parked near the ocean
The 2021 Mazda CX-30 | Photo via Mazda

You Aren’t Crazy If You Want the 2021 Mazda CX-5 Over the Lexus NX

CR’s data shows that only a few problems are associated with the 2019 MX-5 Miata, which makes it more appealing as a used car. After the Miata, Mazda’s CX-30 and CX-3 round out its top three most reliable vehicles. The Mazda3 is at the bottom with a score of 64, which is still ahead of the curve.