The most (and least) reliable used family cars

A look at the family cars that are most likely to stay on the road and those that are a mechanic's dream.

When looking for a car, practicality and reliability are most likely to be at the top of anyone’s checklist, particularly if your family is expanding.

What Car? has taken a lot of the guesswork out of choosing a reliable and affordable car as its latest research reveals the top 10 used family cars – and those to avoid.

The Lexus CT (2011 model) is the most reliable used family car with a reliability rating of 98.8% according to its research.

Around 5% of Lexus CT owners reported any faults, with minor issues involving non-engine electrics and the sat nav, which were fixed on the same day for free.

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Honda Civic. Image: Ivan Kurmyshov/Shutterstock.

Other top runners include the Honda Civic (2012-2017) and Seat Leon (2013).

What Car? says its reliability ratings look at cars aged between four and 10 years old. The data is based on information from over 18,000 UK car owners between May 2017 and May 2018.

A higher score (out of a maximum of 100%) reveals the most reliable used family cars, based on the number of faults and how much it costs to repair.

Used cars with lower scores are likely to have suffered more faults and potentially incur more expensive repair bills.

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Most reliable cars

The table below shows the top performing used family cars, in terms of their reliability, as calculated by research from What Car?.

Position

Model

Year of manufacture

Reliability rating

Average repair cost

1

Lexus CT

2011

98.8%

N/A

2

Honda Civic

 2012-2017

96.4%

Under £750

3

Seat Leon

2013

94.9%

Varies, can exceed £1,500

4

Ford Focus (diesel)

2011-2018

93%

Up to £750

5

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

2010

92.4%

Usually £100-£200

6

Hyundai i30

2012-2017

91.5%

Up to £500

7

Toyota Auris

2007-2013

91.3%

Less than £50 to £500

8

Kia Creed

2007-2012

89.3%

Under £500

9=

Volkswagen Golf (petrol)

2013

89%

Up to £500

9=

Honda Civic

2006-2012

89%

Varies, can exceed £1,500

Source: What Car?

Least reliable cars

At the other end of the scale, the BMW 1 Series (2004-2011) was branded the worst used family car with a reliability rating of 49%.

According to What Car? an astounding 58% of 1 Series owners reported at least one fault, with the battery and engine among the top issues.

Unfortunately, these were not the only problems as there were also issues with the bodywork, brakes, engine electrics, gearbox and suspension.

Other cars to avoid include the Vauxhall Astra (2004-2011) and Seat Leon (2005-2012) according to What Car?

Below is a table showing the worst performing used family cars, in terms of reliability, according to research from What Car?

Position

Make

Year of manufacture

Reliability rating

Average repair cost

1

BMW 1 Series

2004-2011

49%

Varies, can exceed £1,500

2

Vauxhall Astra

2004-2010

58.3%

Varies, can top £1,500

3

Ford Focus (diesel)

2004-2011

59%

Up to £1,000

4

Seat Leon

2005-2012

66%

Varies, can exceed £1,500

5

Audi A3

2003-2013

66.8%

Varies, can exceed £1,500

6

Renault Megane

2009-2016

69.1%

Up to £500

7

Vauxhall Astra

2009-2015

70.1%

Varies, can exceed £1,500

8

Mazda 3

2009-2013

70.5%

Varies, up to £1,500

9=

Audi A3 (diesel)

2013

73.2%

Varies, can exceed £1,500

9=

Volkswagen Golf

2009-2013

73.2%

Varies, can exceed £1,500

Source: What Car?

If you’re more interested in an SUV, What Car? has also revealed the top 10 family SUVs for less than £20,000.

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*This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently.

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