Skip to main content

iSeeCars publishes lists that rate and rank cars based on their reliability. According to the site, “Automotive research firm iSeeCars analyzed over 14.9 million used vehicles to determine the reliable cars with the best long-term staying power based on their ability to reach 200,000 miles.” The site goes as far as to rank the reliability of cars in a specific class. This particular list includes the three most reliable cars in the compact executive segment. Let’s take a look at what the analysis suggests as the three most reliable small luxury cars.

Understanding reliability

A dark grey 2022 Lexus IS midsize luxury sedan parked
2022 Lexus IS | Lexus

An important note: no car on this list has an MSRP of lower than $41,300. When shopping for a car based upon “reliability,” consumers should be aware of the significantly more expensive repair costs that come with a luxury or performance vehicle. 

iSeeCars has identified these three vehicles as “reliable,” meaning limited and minor issues over its first 100k-150k miles. So yes, reliability does indicate that serious repairs should be limited or unlikely. But a reliable economy car and a luxury sedan will still have a significant gap in maintenance costs. Bearing that in mind, let’s get to the list.

The Lexus IS 350 is the most reliable small luxury car

The least surprising inclusion on a list ranking reliability, is the presence of a Toyota or Lexus product. The IS 350 gets a ranking of 8.9 for reliability, putting it in the top spot for reliability according to iSeeCars. The 3.5L 2GR-FKS Toyota V6 engine finds its way into many Toyota/Lexus products and has a proven track record of durability. The dependable V6 puts out a healthy 311 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Plus, it delivers that power in a smooth and unobtrusive way. 

Newer IS 350’s are equipped with great tech. This means standard Apple Carplay/Android Auto, heated seats & steering wheel, and even active sound control. The IS 350 also comes with some spectacular safety features. For example, you’ll find lane departure warning, lane keep assist, pre-collision system, automatic high-beam headlights, and pedestrian detection. 

If you want to get into an IS 350, you’ll need to spend about $43,660. Used car prices are reported to be between $24,931 and $33,997. Lexus products do tend to hold their value better than almost any luxury brand, so if it’s depreciation you’re worried about, the Lexus might be for you. 

Is the BMW 3 Series a good car?

Yes, the 2022 BMW 3 Series is a good small luxury car. Perhaps the most surprising on this list, it’s a member of a notoriously unreliable brand. The current generation 3 Series has two engine options based on the same architecture. The 255 hp “B48” turbocharged 4 cylinder and the 382 hp “B58” turbocharged inline 6. Both engines have proven to be reasonably reliable, they do fall behind the IS 350 and S60 with a reliability rating of 7.0. If you want to go for a plug-in hybrid, BMW offers the 330e which gets a 33 hp power bump of the 330i as well as 21 miles of EV range. 

The BMW 3 Series will cost you anywhere from $43,295 for the 330i to $55,845 for the 6 cylinder M340i. iSeeCars reports an average price of $42,224 for a 3 year old example.

The G20 3 Series comes with all the tech and safety goodies the Lexus and Volvo do. Plus, drivers enjoy the added benefit of typical BMW performance. Whether you get the 330i or M340i, the BMW is easily the most athletic and performance oriented car on the list. 

The Volvo S60

A red Volvo S60 driving on a historic city street.
Volvo S60 R-Design | Volvo USA

Volvo has earned a solid reputation for reliability over the years, especially when compared to its German competitors. That said Volvo recently ditched its famous 2.5L turbocharged 5 cylinder. It’s replaced by a 2.0L turbocharged 4 cylinder. iSeeCars has determined the newer 2.0L to be a success, giving it a reliability score of 8.7. This is good news for Volvo fans looking to take advantage of the most recent generations’ gorgeous styling and exceptional interior. 

The latest generation S60 can be had with 3 different engine configurations. Though 2022 saw the “T6” 316 hp twincharged (turbocharged and supercharged) engine removed from the lineup. Volvo‘s new lineup includes only the 247 hp 2.0L 4 cylinder and the “Recharge” plug-in hybrid option which makes an astonishing 455 hp and can be driven 41 miles with just the electric motor.  

Like the Lexus, the Volvo also comes very well equipped with Apple Carplay and Android Auto in addition to a whole host of safety features including road departure mitigation, lane keeping assist, and traffic sign recognition. Prices start at $41,300 for the non-hybrid and $51,250 for the “Recharge”. If you are looking to get into a used S60, the average price of a 3 year old example is around $35k. Most S60 models boast strong reliability scores.

 If you want affordable reliability, the Lexus is your best bet

The Lexus logo on a dealership sign.
Lexus Logo | Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

It is really difficult to buy a luxury car that will be as reliable as a Honda Civic or Toyota Camry and cost as little to repair. The Lexus IS 350 is about as close as you can get. The latest 3 Series is a reliable BMW. As a bespoke brand, however, it’s at a distinct disadvantage with respect to repair costs. That said, the BMW is certainly the choice for a comfortable daily that’s fun on a twisty backroad. The S60 continues Volvo’s obsession with safety, has the best interior, and is the cheapest to buy used. The S60 also benefits from a reliability rating very close to that of the Lexus IS 350.

All three are good picks. But if you want the cheapest repair costs and best reliability–the Lexus IS 350 has you covered.


2022 Volvo S60 Black Edition: Limited-Edition Swedish Sith Sedan