Top 10 Most Reliable Family Cars

Jason Siu
by Jason Siu

Sometimes it’s pretty difficult to determine what makes a vehicle reliable. But one sound way is to look back and see how much the average repair cost was for a vehicle over three to five years, and seeing which ones suffered the least breakdowns.

Data was studied using 100,000 auto warranty policies linked to family cars by Direct Buy Warranty in order to determine this top 10 list of most reliable family cars, listed in no particular order. It’s worth noting that not a single American vehicle made it onto the list.

The first on the list is the Toyota Avalon, the Japanese automaker’s flagship sedan in the United States. According to the data, the Avalon was one of the cheapest vehicles to maintain over the past five years with typical Toyota dependability and safety ratings. Larger than the Camry, the Avalon is a perfect fit for those looking for size and dependability.

This list would probably have no credibility if the Honda Civic didn’t appear on it. For decades now, the Civic has become synonymous with reliability and dependability, not to mention affordability. Even though it’s generally smaller than your typical family car, the Civic Sedan can still comfortably seat four – or even five – and is capable of great fuel efficiency. According to Direct Buy Warranty, the Honda Civic is the best choice for small families for its low parts cost and extremely low breakdown rate.

Manufactured since 1976, the Honda Accord has come in various iterations, one of which is a popular and dependable sedan. It’s due for a complete redesign rather soon, but for the last three to five years, owners of Honda Accords have enjoyed quality and reliability, along with being a top-safety pick by IIHS.

The least surprising vehicle on the list is the Toyota Camry. The Japanese automaker’s sedan has become iconic when it comes to families over the past two decades. Not only is it the most purchased mid-sized sedan in America, it could possibly be the cheapest to keep running for years and years to come. Best of all, most owners have very few negative things to say about their Camrys.

The only German vehicle to make it onto the list is the Volkswagen Passat, which was the only vehicle on the list with less than a 5 percent major claims rate. According to Robin Johnson of Direct Buy Warranty, only one out of 50 Passat owners have reported a breakdown that costed them more than $200.00 to fix. That’s pretty impressive considering all vehicles surveyed were between three and five years old.

The Mazda 6 is like a jack-of-all-trades, not really known to be the best-in-class for anything, but it’s far from being horrible too. Relatively speaking compared to the other vehicles on the list, the Mazda 6 is a baby having been introduced onto the market less than 10 years ago. Those looking for a sportier drive in exchange for some luxury amenities should look towards this mid-sized sedan from Mazda.

The unique Mazda 5 is basically a compact minivan, which may or may not be attractive in your eyes. But what it does offer is three-row seating for six, sliding side doors, and a fuel efficient four-cylinder powerplant. The Mazda 5 didn’t make its way to America until 2006, so if you own one, rest assured it’s reliable and dependable.

This may be the biggest surprise on the list, especially considering the Subaru Legacy is such an oddball model for families. But those still clinging on to their inner child and wanting all-wheel drive performance with Subaru’s turbocharged boxer engine might be happy to know that it’s plenty reliable too. But let’s face it, it’s just an uglier WRX when all is said and done.

The Nissan Maxima is what the Japanese automaker likes to call its four-door sports car, but at the end of the day it’s neither really a sports car or a luxury sedan. But it is reliable and dependable, with the current generation Maxima being part of those surveyed in this top 10 data set. The Maxima did recently receive a refresh, getting a new front grille, taillights, and wheel options.

Last but not least, the Nissan Altima finds its way onto the list as one of the top 10 most reliable family cars in America. It is also one of the best-selling cars on the market right now and Nissan hopes it’s newest generation Altima with its segment-best 38 mpg can start to dethrone Toyota at the top of the mid-sized sedan category.

Jason Siu
Jason Siu

Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.

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  • Jap's Jap's on Dec 09, 2015

    Just an advice: stay away from diesel versions of Mazda 5 (Europe)... It has too many issues with turbo, DPF, EGR and other components... Best regards,

  • 'Karina Guerrero-Copado 'Karina Guerrero-Copado on Feb 01, 2016

    Fuck Nissan Altima! I have this car and have spent so much money on trying to fix it. It randomly turns off while I'm driving 55mph on the road. I've always taken good care of my cars and for it to be acting up really upsets me. The check engine light doesn't come on so it's so hard to figure out what's wrong. The same thing happened to my friends car a Nissan altima and if you go on Google search many other people have this problem.

    • Mark G Mark G on Jun 07, 2016

      search the same thing for any car......and you will see the same issue......take it to the dealer and get it fixed