Most reliable used small cars 2021/2022

Looking for a reliable small used car? These are your best options right now

There’s a huge number of reasons why people buy replacement cars. They might want something that’s bigger than the one they have. They might just want something that shinier, faster, better equipped, and which will make friends and neighbours go: “woah”.

But the main reason people decide to ditch their old car is because they’re worried it’s going to let them down, and it’s simply costing too much to keep running. Reliability is key.

No one wants to be stranded, especially in such small cars which tend to be driven by younger motorists. They also spend most of their time in town, so any breakdown stands a decent chance of causing a traffic jam, with the attendant embarrassment of being mentioned in radio traffic reports.

That’s where our 2021 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey comes in. It’s a vital resource that really can tell you which cars are the most reliable to buy.

Our scores are easy to understand – a 100% car would be one on which no faults had been reported, so anything above 90 per cent is doing very well indeed.

Read on below for our list of the top five most reliable used small cars money can buy.

Most reliable used small cars 2021

5. Mazda 2 Mk3 - 91.28%

  • Years of manufacture: 2014-present
  • Price now: from £6,300

The Mazda 2 might not be a car to garner the headlines, but it is a superb all-rounder that’s good fun to drive and very cheap to run. There have also been numerous special-edition models, which tend to feature lots of desirable equipment, but its reliability where the Mazda 2 really shines. Owners told us just how dependable it is, making it sneak into our top five - well ahead of VW Group rivals in the shape of the Skoda Fabia and Volkswagen Polo.

4. Toyota Yaris Mk3 - 91.67%

  • Years of manufacture: 2011-2019
  • Price now: from £3,700

You won’t go far wrong with the third-generation Toyota Yaris, which offers exceptionally low running costs and, as you’d expect from a Toyota, reliability that’s well above average. In finishing in fourth place on our reliability list, the Yaris ended up no fewer than 23 places higher than its major rival - the Ford Fiesta. The only downside is that owners told us that its predecessor (below) is even more reliable.

3. BMW i3  - 91.98%

  • Years of manufacture: 2013-present
  • Price now: from £11,000

With less moving parts, there’s a perception that electric cars should be reliable – and the BMW i3 proves that it’s not a myth. That smooth, seamless surge of EV power really appeals to many, but owners also love the fact that it’s dependable – so dependable in fact that the evergreen i3 has made the top three on our list of the most reliable used small cars.

2. Volkswagen up! - 92.27%

  • Years of manufacture: 2011-present
  • Price now: from £3,000

The general consensus is that owners of the VW up! love the way it drives, because it feels like a bigger car than it actually is. They also love its aversion to the sight of petrol stations and the fact that it’s extremely reliable. Beaten only by the Mk2 Yaris, the up! is the second most reliable small car as voted for by you. This also means it finished well ahead of the popular Fiat 500.

1. Toyota Yaris Mk2 - 94.51%

  • Years of manufacture: 2005-2013
  • Price now: from £1,295

There’s no denying that the second-generation Yaris has a few grey hairs these days, but the fact its reliability score is highest of all used small cars is testament to just how robust it is. Economy is great, too, but as you might expect, in-car tech is some way off the pace these days. Proving that age is no barrier to reliability, the Yaris finished well ahead of the Mk4 Renault Clio, a car that went on sale only just before the Yaris was replaced.

Click below to find out the most reliable cars by sector... 

Click here to take our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey right now..

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