Best cars & vans

Top 10 most reliable small cars to buy

Looking for a reliable small car? Our 2021 Driver Power survey can help…

Small cars are often bought in an effort to keep costs down but any plan to save on running costs through good fuel economy and cheap insurance will soon be scuppered if the car is unreliable. What you need for really cost-effective motoring is a reliable small car and we’ve got the 10 most reliable small cars on sale for you right here. 

Our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey is where you can tell us all about the car you own - good and bad. Thousands of motorists do so every year and the result is an invaluable resource for anyone looking at buying a car today. 

Click here to take our Driver Power survey right now

The small cars included are drawn from the city car, supermini, small SUV and premium small SUV sectors and we’re looking at the combined scores owners provided for general reliability and build quality. Below you’ll find the top 10 most reliable models in descending order. So for your best chance for worry-free motoring on a tight budget, scroll down the page to find out what is the most reliable small car.

10. Honda Jazz - 92.45%

The practical Honda Jazz supermini is a regular in the most reliable small car top 10 and while it may have dropped a spot from 2020, it’s still proving to be one of the most dependable cars on the road in 2021. Our data is for the third-generation model, so we’ll be keen to find out if the mk4 model can offer more of the same in years to come. 

9. Ford Puma - 92.53%

The Ford Puma has been storming the British sales charts since its release, overtaking the Nissan Qashqai to become the UK’s most popular SUV. Owners love the smooth engine, low running costs and infotainment but it appears reliability is a strong suit of the Puma as well. 

Considering a relatively high 21.42 per cent of Ford owners have found some kind of fault with their cars, the Puma is definitely one of Ford’s more reliable offerings. 

8. Kia Niro - 92.56%

The Kia Niro came eighth in 2020 and did exactly the same this year. It’s one of three Kias in the top 10 most reliable small cars list so the Korean brand is doing very well when it comes to dependable, yet affordable motors. What’s even more impressive is the variety of powertrains available in the Kia Niro, from plug-in hybrid petrol to mild-hybrid and the fully electric e-Niro model - there’s reliability across the range. 

7. Toyota Yaris - 92.70%

Throughout the years the Toyota Yaris has been lagging behind the top of the supermini class. This new model, first introduced in 2020, could change the tide with excellent ride and handling, low running costs and, of course, reliability. The Yaris has always been one of the better-built superminis so it’s no surprise to see it in this top ten - the old model managed a second-placed finish in 2020. 

6. Kia Picanto - 92.98%

The only city car to make the top 10 most reliable small cars list, the Picanto has had a stellar performance in the 2021 Driver Power survey. With a 20th-place finish overall, owners praised infotainment, value and reliability. Kia came second in our best manufacturers list, despite a fairly high 19.63 per cent of owners finding a fault - probably down to the severity of faults being low. 

5. Renault Captur - 93.6%

The first Renault Captur was a huge success for the French brand, perfectly playing on the market’s demand for small SUVs. The second installment is even better and it now has great reliability under its belt too. 16.38 per cent of Renault owners have experienced faults so the brand is doing well as a whole when it comes to building reliable cars. 

4. Volvo XC40 - 94.20%

The Volvo XC40 won this segment last year so a fourth-place finish might feel a little disappointing for the Swedish brand. Owners are still happy with their premium small SUV (the only one appearing in this top 10), with build quality a particularly excellent part of XC40 ownership. Volvo dealerships are also a pleasure to deal with, in the unlikely event things do go wrong. 

3. Kia Rio - 94.48%

The most reliable supermini title goes to the Kia Rio. The Rio came seventh last year, so this is a decent step up for the Korean car - although with a second-placed finish in the 2021 Driver Power survey overall, there’s no bad aspect to Rio ownership. It’s the third and final Kia in this list, especially impressive considering no other manufacturer claimed more than one spot. 

2. Peugeot 2008 - 94.53%

According to owners, the Peugeot 2008 has the reliability to back up its sharp design. Excellent fit and finish of body panels was a regular commendation and interior build quality also has a premium feel. The Peugeot brand placed well in the manufacturers list as well, just missing out on the top 10 with an eleventh-placed finish. This is the first time the second-generation model has featured in the driver power survey and it jumps 14 places up from the Mk1s 2020 result. 

1. Hyundai Kona - 95.75% 

The Kona took the overall Driver Power ‘best car to own’ title in 2021 thanks in part to its excellent reliability, so it shouldn’t be a big surprise to see it top the most reliable small cars list as well. Despite being an affordable small car, build quality is especially good and there aren’t any common faults for owners to speak of. The pre-facelift model came fifth in our 2020 most reliable small cars list as well. You can even enjoy the Kona’s reliability across a variety of different versions, from petrol, diesel, hybrid and even a sporty N version too.

Check out the table below for the full scores on the top 10 most reliable small cars and their respective categories...

Ranking

Model

Class

Reliability Score

1

Hyundai Kona

Small SUV

95.75%

2

Peugeot 2008

Small SUV

94.53%

3

Kia Rio

Supermini

94.48%

4

Volvo XC40

Premium Small SUV

94.20%

5

Renault Captur

Small SUV

93.60%

6

Kia Picanto

City Car

92.98%

7

Toyota Yaris

Supermini

92.70%

8

Kia Niro

Small SUV

92.56%

9

Ford Puma

Small SUV

92.53%

10

Honda Jazz

Supermini

92.45%

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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