While compact and midsize sedan sales may be falling, let’s not pretend these segments won’t be around for a while. In 2017, midsize models alone outsold minivans by three-and-a-half times (1.77 million units overall).
Over the past few decades (the golden age of the segment), midsize cars got especially competitive on the U.S. market. That leaves consumers who aren’t interested in SUVs with a number of excellent options in 2018.
If you’re on the market for a small or midsize sedan, here are the models with the top reliability ratings from Consumer Reports.
10. Toyota Camry
The only surprise with Camry on this list is that Toyota’s midsize sedan didn’t rank higher. For the better part of two decades, this model landed the top score in the annual reliability ratings. Camry’s only minor trouble spot in the past five years was the car’s infotainment system rating average — and even that only happened for a single model (2015).
9. Subaru Legacy
While the Subaru Legacy hasn’t been perfect in recent years, Consumer Reports predicted above-average reliability for 2018. Here, in-car electronic system issues represented the only problem area since 2015. Mechanically, Legacy has been sound.
8. Kia Optima
After an all-new Optima appeared for 2016, Kia’s midsize sedan landed the top reliability score for 2017. Buyers who responded to Consumer Reports surveys over these years have not reported any major trouble spots. That led to another above-average reliability rating for 2018.
Since the Mazda6 redesign for 2014, the only area that’s given owners trouble has been the infotainment system. Things appear to have gotten better in the past few years, and Consumer Reports predicted above-average reliability for this model overall, putting it among the top 2018 sedans.
6. Volkswagen Passat
Since 2016, the Volkswagen Passat has been close to flawless in reliability surveys, and those scores led to another strong rating for the sedan in 2018. Compared to models from the automaker’s luxury division (Audi), Passat fared much better.
5. Ford Fusion
While Ford’s compact cars have gotten the “never buy” label from Consumer Reports in recent years, the midsize Fusion has been a recommended CR model in recent years. One of the reasons behind that score was the above-average reliability rating for 2018. The only trouble spot for owners over the past few years was in-car electronics.
If you want a new Fusion, this may be your last chance to get one. Ford is ending production of all its cars in the coming years, though Fusion will be the final one to go.
4. Nissan Altima
After two straight years of landing top reliability ratings, Nissan Altima got an above-average score again for 2018 — one of the best among midsize sedans. The only trouble area for owners has been in-car electronics. Otherwise, recent models have been flawless (especially mechanically).
3. Hyundai Elantra
For 2018, three compact sedans got the highest possible reliability ratings, and Hyundai Elantra was right near the top. This model, which also got a top safety rating, showed nearly no trouble areas since the redesign. Hyundai will debut a new exterior design for the 2019 model year.
There’s a joke that goes around among auto journalists. It sounds something like this: “If people listened to us, everyone would own a Mazda.”
It’s no coincidence that you find Mazda cars and SUVs regularly among the most satisfying vehicles to own every year, and the Mazda3 is a perfect example. Owners rave about driving this compact car, and Consumer Reports reliability scores show it’s more than fun that makes people loyal to it.
Only in-car electronics have given Mazda3 owners any trouble in recent years. Otherwise, it’s as sure a bet as you can find in a small car — and that goes for the entire decade.
1. Toyota Corolla
At this point, “Corolla” is synonymous with “practical,” and most available evidence backs up the association. Not only is it among the best for fuel economy; since the 2014 redesign, owners haven’t reported a single trouble area in this car.
It may not be the most fun car to drive — or the prettiest vehicle on the road — but there’s no doubt you get your money’s worth from a Corolla. That hasn’t changed in 2018.