These Are the 8 Most Reliable Used SUVs

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Sometimes a test drive is all it takes to convince ourselves that we really, really do need those doors that automatically unlock or a fancy 10-speaker audio system. Unfortunately, when it comes to car buying, fun choices today can sometimes lead to financial heartbreak tomorrow. After all, every car seems reliable when it’s new. So, how can you be sure that the shiny impulse buy sitting in front of the dealership will go the distance without wrecking your bank account along the way?

Long-term road tests are a great starting point. Our team of technical wizards monitor each car we evaluate over the course of 40,000 miles. That allows us to paint a solid picture of initial quality and reliability. What about after that? Fortunately, tools like the J.D. Power dependability ratings help us track how the most common vehicles on today’s market hold up over time.

J.D. Power gets its data by following more than 80,000 drivers for three years of vehicle ownership. All of that information is complied, analyzed, and ultimately organized by what the company calls the quality and reliability score. We used this number to rate each of the award winners, with a higher score indicating fewer reported problems during the duration of the evaluation period.

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2016 Ford Expedition – Quality and Reliability: 75

Smiling kids, Kool-Aid stains, and curb rash—all in a day’s work for the Ford Expedition full-size powerhouse, now in its 14th year of service. Although it’s the least of the most reliable, according to J.D. Power, it’s impossible to argue with the Expedition’s track record. Rode hard and put away wet, a large number of these family-friendly SUVs continue to roam America’s pick-up and drop-off lanes while boasting stratospheric numbers on their odometers. During our 2018 test, we enjoyed the latest Expedition’s engine and transmission options but were less than impressed by its lagging fuel economy. Still, for those whose space requirements fall just below that of a school bus, the Expedition is as viable a choice as it has always been.


2016 Audi Q3 – Quality and Reliability: 80

The Audi Q3 is a baby luxury crossover. Originally based on Volkswagen Audi Group’s modular PQ35 platform and now on the MQB platform, the Q3 shares much of its underpinnings with the company’s small sedan and coupe offerings. Though reliability hasn’t always been Audi’s strong suit, the Q3’s impressive score can likely be attributed to its widespread use of modular VW parts-bin components. Stacked against a BMW X1, the new Q3 received positive remarks for its lively steering feel and respectable skidpad performance. It also proved more spacious in both the front and rear rows than the BMW, although cargo room was more limited.


2016 Volkswagen Tiguan – Quality and Reliability: 83

It’s no surprise that the 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan slid in only one slot ahead of the Audi. Having shared a platform with the Q3, the once-small Volkswagen SUV did a good job combining efficiency, sportiness, and practicality. The current Tiguan, however, has gone through a metamorphosis, sprouting a third row and reshaping itself into something more closely resembling a mid-size SUV. Our test of a brightly colored, front-wheel drive example revealed an abundance of utility and efficiency. Unfortunately, this came at the cost of performance and driving pleasure as VW attempts to cater to a new class of buyer with the Tiguan line.


2016 Hyundai Santa Fe – Quality and Reliability: 85

In our 2017 review, we complimented the Hyundai Santa Fe for its interior comfort and available technology. Three years later, it’s nice to know it has the goods in the reliability department as well. Hyundai has come far since its mid-’80s introduction into the United States market, and today it offers some of the highest value vehicles in the SUV and entry-level luxury segments.

And while the 2016 Santa Fe was born in the shadow of old Hyundai, the current version is an example of how the Korean car manufacturer has hit its stride. In our latest mid-size crossover comparo, the 2019 Santa Fe scored a second-place finish for its features, value, and practicality.


2016 BMW X3 – Quality and Reliability: 87

Back when BMW only offered one small SUV, the X3 was lauded for its simplicity, driving etiquette, and stylish looks. Available in both gas and diesel models for 2016, it has proven to be one of the most practical vehicles in BMW’s lineup. And amazingly, the company’s legendary inline-six has not only managed to stand the test of time but continuously become more impressive. A prime example is the 2020 X3 M we tested last year, which came equipped with BMW’s new S58 3.0-liter inline-six. In Competition trim, the twin-turbo makes 503 horsepower and is capable of carrying the small SUV to 60 mph in just 3.3 seconds. Yes, 3.3 seconds.


2016 Kia Soul – Quality and Reliability: 88 (tie)

The relationship between the Kia Soul and small rodents will forever be a mystery to many of us. Yet, it’s hard to argue with the success of the company’s iconic ad campaign, which helped put more than a million of the baby SUVs on U.S. roads. Small, simple, and cheap, the toaster-shaped machine seems to provide those who drive it the satisfaction that the Scion xB never could. It’s not surprising then that the Soul made J.D. Power’s reliability short list while also holding the distinction of being a Car and Driver 10Best Trucks and SUVs alumni.


2016 Lexus GX 460 – Quality and Reliability: 88 (tie)

With the reliability of a bottle opener and the swagger of, well, a Lexus, the GX is nothing short of sport-utility brilliance. Yes, our 2016 GX 460 test highlighted its archaic design and clumsy road manners, so it’s easy to see how the layman could easily dismiss the mid-range GX as nothing more than a really expensive 4Runner. Hoever, for those who can enjoy both confit de canard and watching their pinstriped truck’s odometer roll back over to zero, the GX leaves little to be desired. For 2020 the old tool gets a splash of minor upgrades, mostly in the aesthetics department. Still, it continues to embody the spirit of its Toyota roots regardless of a $54,000 base price.


2016 Chevrolet Equinox – Quality and Reliability: 93

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