The Most Reliable Car Brands for Australians

this blue toyota ute is one of australia's most reliable cars and brands

Buying a new car can be stressful. There’s so much to think about – which are the most reliable car brands, what allowances will you make with mileage and safety rating, what will the running costs be, how to rank the different features and factors, how much can you really afford to spend…?

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Strangely enough, we don’t tend to have these worries about other expensive things like TVs, phones, or sometimes even property. But knowing for sure you’re buying something that should be reliable and keep you safe on the roads for many kilometres definitely affords some peace of mind.  

So what car brands are reliable for Australians?

There have been loads of surveys and research done into cars. From asking and surveying Australian car owners to analysing Google search trends, these have all tried to solve the question of which are the most reliable car brands.

And if you’re planning on long road trips, towing a trailer or caravan, ferrying the kids around and/or travelling with pets, or just a lot of time spent in your car, you’ll want to buy something trustworthy.

Here’s what we’ve found by looking through multiple surveys, research, and general opinion.

Toyota is considered a reliable car brand

Toyota is Australia’s most popular car brand by quite some margin. It’s also Australia’s most trusted car brand – so we’re putting a lot of faith in the likes of the Corolla and Hilux.

In fact, the Hilux is the country’s top-selling car. It’s a great towing car, not too expensive to maintain, and can even handle the Aussie outback.

And it turns out, that’s a good thing! In almost all surveys, research studies, and general opinion articles from motoring experts, Toyota was considered to be one of the most reliable car brands out there. It’s a relief to know you don’t have to splurge on the most expensive cars to get something trustworthy.

But is it an Australian brand? Wikipedia confirms that “Toyota Australia is an Australian subsidiary of the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota.” It’s Japanese, which leads us to….

Toyota land cruiser in water - Toyota is the most reliable car brand

And so are many other Japanese cars

When you dig into the research, Japanese cars in general tend to be considered quite reliable. Which means if you’re looking at a new or used Honda, Lexus, or Subaru, you’re likely to walk away with a good egg rather than a lemon.

Mazda gets mixed reviews. One survey named it the least reliable brand in Australia and another called it the most reliable car brand. Maybe it just depends on who the driver is! Or which particular car you happen to end up with.

South Korean cars have been chasing their Japanese neighbours for a while, and are now starting to catch up. Brands like Hyundai and Kia have earned themselves good followings thanks to cars that are well-priced, attractive, and generally reliable.

front view of Mazda. Like most Japanese brands, this is considered reliable

Are European car brands reliable?

German engineering is a thing of wonder. German cars usually spectacular to drive and experience. Every little thing is a piece of engineering magic – from the way they handle and the luxury cabins, right down to the tiny car sounds like the ticking of the indicator to the satisfying clunk of a car door closing. Everything is engineered to make your driving experience top notch.

But their reliability generally doesn’t match up to their driving dynamics, sadly. Volkswagen has a particularly poor reputation on the German front. But even the likes of Audi and BMW don’t compete with Honda or Toyota. That said, they’re also not the worst-rated. More like middle of the pack.

Elsewhere on the continent, the main contenders are French and Italian cars. What can we say? They’re beautiful – think a gorgeous Alfa Romeo or a cute little Peugeot. But they’re not famed for being reliable.

Admittedly, they do seem to have improved over the last decade or two. But when the discussion about the most reliable car brands comes up, you can guarantee there will be someone who says that anyone buying a French or Italian car is taking an unnecessary risk.

But if your heart is set on buying a Renault, Citroen, or Alfa, go ahead! Just make sure you choose a mechanic you trust in case something goes awry.

Volkswagen van - a fairly reliable car brand

….and Australian cars?

Unfortunately, Australia’s local, homegrown talent doesn’t seem to fare too well.

A local survey that wanted to find out about faults on cars under five years old showed Holden and Ford to be the two least reliable cars on the market. Alongside the good old American Jeep, that is. And there are a fair few Land Rover owners who lump their vehicles in there too.

So while we’re all for supporting local, it seems that when it comes to the most reliable car brands, you might just be better off going to Japan.

ford SUV - ford in australia isn't considered a reliable car brand

Reliable second hand car brands

When you buy used, it’s good to know about the most reliable car brands on the market in Australia. It’s also important to know how much to spend on a car. But it’s about so much more than that.

Other huge factors include service history, mileage, accident history, and more. Getting the car professionally inspected, knowing what to look for when test driving, and asking to see the service record can all help to minimise the risks associated with purchasing a used car.

In most cases, you don’t really know whether you’re buying a car from someone who drives slowly and responsibly three times a week or someone who moonlights as suburban Lewis Hamilton when they fancy it. Or Simona de Silvestro for that matter – read more about female race car drivers here.

That said, one of the best first steps to buying a bargain used car is to know that it was manufactured well and generally considered to be a reliable model when it was new. Read more tips in our ‘second hand car or new car‘ article.

Another way to feel more confident about your purchase is to investigate comprehensive car insurance. That way, you’ll have protection against claimable events like accidents, fire and theft. So if something goes wrong, you won’t have to cover the cost of repair or replacement entirely by yourself.

How would you, like to proceed?

How would you, like to proceed?