It's not easy to rate long-term reliability of a vehicle. After all, no matter what the make or model, it can be easier to find a few customers with issues than the many who did not. Each year Consumer Reports surveys its members about their vehicles, as well as other consumer goods they've purchased. And they have a lot of members. For the 2020 Consumer Reports vehicle reliability survey, they received more than 420,000 responses on vehicles dating back as far as model year 2000. Then they use that data to predict how reliable the 2020 version of a vehicle is likely to be.
Questions asked in the survey cover more than 17 areas, from annoyances like squeaky brakes to dealbreakers like transmission repairs, and everything in between. This is the Consumers Reports list of the most reliable vehicles for 2020.
10. Lexus GS
It's crowded at the top, with just seven points out of a possible 100 separating 10th from first. The big Lexus GS doesn't change often, with the last redesign happening in 2013, which helps its reliability score. In each year since then, it's received a double upward chevron, the top overall score given out for most vehicles. The last trouble spot listed was for the exhaust, back in 2018, with owners of that model citing issues in that category, which could include the muffler, pipes, and catalytic converter.
9. Mazda CX-9
Mazda is the number two brand overall for reliability this year, so it's no surprise to see some of its vehicles on the list. You'll see three as we climb to the number one spot. Like most of Mazda's models, this one was rated above average with a reliability score of 87. It's received top marks in both the past two years, which is why CR predicts it to continue to be reliable this year.
8. Toyota 4Runner
Another model that's been largely unchanged for many years, that could be the key to making this list. Change little, make it right is a good mantra for quality assurance. The 4Runner last shows a major revision in 2010, per CR's reliability chart, and it's received the top reliability marks in every year since 2006 with just two exceptions. They didn't receive enough reports for the 2009 model year, and 2015 earned the second-highest score.
7. Lexus NX
This is the second entry in the top 10 for Lexus, the brand that scored most reliable overall. We'll see one more before the list is out, as well. The NX was first launched for the 2015 model year, and it has received the CR top rating for reliability each year since then. Lexus has shown that it does very well on most of its models when it comes to reliability, and that's reflected in this survey.
6. Mazda CX-3
Another Mazda on the list, this time its smallest crossover, which scored an 89. It scored much above average, CR says, showing that being small and affordable can go hand in hand with reliability. This isn't the only vehicle on this list to demonstrate this, either. When the CX-3 was first released back in 2016, it scored below average for reliability, but top marks since then show that Mazda has solved any issues the original model had.
5. Hyundai Kona
The Kona was Hyundai's most reliable vehicle, a good showing for a brand that ranked high overall. The Kona is one of the newest vehicles on the list, which makes its score of 90 even more impressive. But two model years of top marks across the board show that this little crossover is a reliable one, and proof that if your last experiences with Hyundai were back in the Pony days that this is a brand worth revisiting.
4. Lexus GX
Another Lexus, this time with a reliability score of 91. This is a big, off-road-oriented Lexus, which is probably another reason to appreciate that high score. It's not universal, but this one again subscribes to the "make it for a long time, and it'll have good reliability" school of thought. Or at least achieves that end result. Again last updated in 2020, the GX has received the top rating in the last three years for which data is available.
3. Toyota Prius
The fuel-efficient Prius hybrid scores 92 on this list, which probably helps boost its green footprint even more. The Prius has probably done a better job than any other at showing buyers that alternative vehicle technology, in this case, electrification, isn't a scary thing. Consumer Reports has reliability for the Prius dating back to model year 2002, and it's gotten the top rating in all but two years. 2002 and 2007, and in both of which got it the second-best rating. So for the last 12, it's gotten one of the best scores for reliability and a top rating.
2. Toyota Prius Prime
How could Toyota beat the Prius? By making it a plug-in hybrid. The PHEV Prius came in with a score of two points higher than its non-plug-in hybrid sibling. While the Prime has only been on the list since 2017, it's gotten the top ranking in each of those years, showing that electric high-tech doesn't need to mean a sacrifice in reliability.
1. Mazda MX-5
The top car on this list shows that you don't need to sacrifice reliability if you want to have one of the most enjoyable drives on the market. Mazda's compact MX-5 is simple, pared-down, and, according to CR, reliable. The MX-5 has received the top CR mark for reliability every year since 2009, with predicted reliability that shows that if you want to spend more time with the wind in your hair then a wrench in your hand or dealer service coffee in your mouth, then this is a great way to do just that.