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SUV Reliability ratings and more

Whether you buy an SUV or a crossover, there are a few deciding factors that help you pick a particular model. Of course, the size of the vehicle, the powertrain options, exterior, and cargo space play an important role, but more significant is the safety and reliability ratings of the vehicle. In some cases, these ratings are derived from consumer experience, and sometimes, experts crash-test vehicles under controlled conditions to check the safety measures that the manufacturer claims to have included.

In this article, we are going to look at the widely accepted vehicle rating organizations in the US, and then, we will discuss the top 10 most reliable SUVs of all time.

What is the most reliable SUV?

The most reliable SUV offers a safe and comfortable ride and safeguards its passengers in case a collision or crash occurs. It also offers excellent ride quality and carries a high resale value. Besides the exterior, interior and performance, it’s necessary to keep in mind the reliability and dependability of a vehicle, because it’s crucial to your and your family’s safety.

What are the SUV Car Reliability Ratings?

In the US, ssome independent organizations test newly launched cars to check their safety levels. Their ratings are unbiased, expert-vetted, and generated through the real-life experience of the users. In the US, car reliability and safety ratings are issued by these bodies:

  • JD Power
  • NHTSA
  • IIHS

 

JD Power

JD Power is an independent platform that presents awards to vehicles based on their dependability and reliability. The initial response (90 days post-purchase) of the buyer is taken into account to calculate the quality scores. To measure dependability, the primary factor is the buyer’s 3-year of ownership experience.

Every year, JD Power announces the most dependable cars based on their evaluation and presents them with an award. JD Power also offers dealership experience ratings and resale ratings. The insights of JD Power are considered to be highly valuable, as it is based on the buyers’ real experiences.

The 4 primary areas of evaluation are:

  • Quality & Reliability: Examines the design flaws of the vehicles.
  • Driving Experience: Consumer’s opinion of the safety, comfort, and performance of the vehicle.
  • Resale Value: Examines the depreciation level of the vehicle.
  • Dealership Experience: Rates the customer’s buying experience with the dealer.

 

NHTSA

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) attributes 5-star ratings to vehicles based on their safety features. As an integral part of the US Department of Transportation, NHTSA aims to prevent accidents and crashes by evaluating the safety and security standards of newly launched cars.

The highest rating a car can receive is a 5-star safety rating. They crash test new models to determine which vehicles are safe to drive, and which models fall short on the safety features. NHTSA ratings are a deciding factor for car buyers, as it gives them the assurance and peace of mind that their vehicle is safe. After conducting front-impact and side-impact crash tests, NHTSA declares driver safety rating, as well as passenger safety rating.

IIHS

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is a non-profit body that operates to reduce the risk of death, crash and injury by vehicular accidents. IIHS declares Top Safety Pick awards every year to the vehicles that meet their standards.

This independent institution divides its crash tests into two particular categories, namely, crashworthiness and crash avoidance.

Crashworthiness determines how a vehicle performs when faced with a collision or crash, and crash avoidance checks what qualities the vehicle has to avoid the chances of a crash.

As a buyer, it’s always a good idea to check these ratings of a vehicle, as they help you make an informed decision. When your new purchase is backed by the safety ratings of these third-party organizations, you will be more at peace with your vehicle.

Which brand of vehicle is the most reliable?

When you’re investing in a car, it’s quite obvious that you’ll look for a vehicle that’s reliable, safe, and keeps you and your family protected. To help you out, we have made a list of brands and their respective models that cater to the highest standards of safety.

1.Nissan Armada

Type: 3-row full size SUV, Price: $50,495, Reliability Score: 87/100

With a brand-new attractive exterior and a powerful engine, the Nissan Armada offers a smooth and noiseless ride. It has received a reliability rating of 87/100 by JD Power. In the quality and reliability category, it has bagged a score of 91, and 90 in driving experience. As these numbers are entirely based on real user experience, it’s quite evident that this SUV is a reliable choice.

Volvo XC40

Source: Nissan

Pros
Comfortable ride quality
Powerful engine
Host of standard safety and tech technical features
Cons
Not so fuel-efficient
Cabin could be more improved
Unimpressive performance on the highway

NHTSA or IIHS have not yet tested the vehicle, but overall, it does offer a good range of safety features and driver assist technology. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, automated emergency braking, lane keep assist and lane departure warning are some of the primary features available in this model.

2. BMW X6

Type: 2-row coupe SUV, Price: $68,345, Reliability Score: 86/100

One of the most dynamic and responsive vehicles available in the market, the BMW X6 is here to offer sporty handling coupled with a comfortable ride. Loaded with a plethora of tech and safety features, this one is a highly reliable purchase.

Volvo XC40

Source: BMW

Pros
Excellent powertrain offerings
Beautiful and spacious cabin
Smooth driving experience
Cons
Impractical design
Expensive price range

Out of 100 points, BMW X6 has received an overall rating of 86 from JD Power, where the majority of the customers have given it an impressive score in terms of quality and reliability, and driving experience.

This vehicle has not been evaluated by either IIHS or NHTSA, but it does come with a large number of standard safety features. The key features include forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane change assist, and active lane control.

3. Kia Sportage

Type: 2-row compact SUV, Price: $25,305, Reliability Score: 84/100 

The 2021 Kia Sportage is one of the most reliable compact SUVs you can find in recent times. It’s agile, offers a smooth ride, and boasts a turbocharged engine.

Volvo XC40

Source: KIA

Pros
Engine is powerful and capable
The cabin feels luxurious
Convenient handling
Cons
Boot space isn't spacious enough
Unimpressive fuel economy

With a JD Power score of 84/100, Kia Sportage has secured its place among the most reliable SUVs. NHTSA has awarded it a five-star rating for crash testing. The 2020 variant of this vehicle comes with similar features, which was counted as a Top Safety Pick by IIHS.

Some of the main safety features include forward collision warning, auto emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, electronic stability control, hill start assist control, and downhill brake control.

4. Toyota Highlander

Type: 3-row midsize SUV, Price: $$36,420, Reliability Score: 82/100

This midsize SUV is yet another super dependable midsize SUV you can buy. Equipped with an all-wheel optional hybrid powertrain, this one features a handsome exterior as well as a decent and practical interior. It also comes loaded with a host of standard features, which ensure driver and passenger safety.

Volvo XC40

Source: Toyota

Pros
Multiple driver-assist features
Practical and stylish exterior
Comes in a hybrid variant
Cons
Cluttered infotainment system
Lack of ample space in the third row

Highlander has secured a reliability score of 82/100 from JD Power. It has earned the accolade of Top Safety Pick from IIHS and a 5-star rating by NHTSA. It comes with standard blind-spot monitoring, automated emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and pedestrian detection.

5. Subaru Forester

Type: 2-row midsize SUV, Price: $$26,320, Reliability Score: 82/100

When you want to enjoy the thrill of an SUV without investing in a full-size vehicle, Subaru Forester is a dependable choice. It’s safe on the roads and is considered to be highly reliable based on customer reports. The bold and practical design, spacious interiors, and standard AWD have made it a sought-after vehicle in recent times.

Volvo XC40

Source: Subaru

Pros
Smooth handling and ride on all road conditions
Spacious cargo area
Designed for the outdoor-lovers
Cons
Acceleration needs improvement
Third row is not available

Subaru Forester has a reliability rating of 82/100 from JD Power. The vehicle has been given a 5-star rating by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and it has also earned the Top Safety Pick from IIHS.

Forester comes with a wide range of safety features, including brake assist, traction control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, electronic stability control, adaptive cruise control, and Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist technology.

6. Chevrolet Equinox

Type: 2-row compact crossover, Price: $26,995, Reliability Score: 81/100

If you’re searching for a roomy crossover at a decent price, Chevrolet Equinox would be a good choice. It boasts a sporty exterior, luxurious interior, and offers an impressive level of safety and reliability.

Volvo XC40

Source: Chevrolet

Pros
Swift riding experience
Well-equipped infotainment system
Overall spacious cabin
Cons
Prices are on the expensive side
Engine performance is below expectations
Less storage areas

It has been given 5 stars by NHTSA, but Equinox did not get the Top Safety Pick award from IIHS. JD Power has given it a reliability score of 81/100.

The standard features of this Chevy model are adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure assist, and auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

7. Hyundai Palisade

Type: 3-row midsize SUV, Price: $34,595, Reliability Score: 81/100

This new Hyundai launch comes with a newly stylized exterior, state-of-the-art infotainment features, and gorgeous interiors. It doesn’t fall short on the safety features either.

Volvo XC40

Source: Hyundai

Pros
Completely justified for the price tag
Multiple tech features available as standard
Convenient infotainment system
Cons
Ride feels noisy at highway speeds

JD Power has given it a reliability score of 81/100. Palisade has earned the honor of Top Safety Pick+ from IIHS, and NHTSA has given it a 5-star rating. The vehicle comes equipped with a series of standard safety features and driver assist features, such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, auto emergency braking, pedestrian detection, blind-spot collision warning, and rear cross-traffic collision warning.

8. Volvo XC40

Type: 2-row compact SUV, Price: $36,195, Reliability Score: 78/100

Volvo XC40 is a highly reliable vehicle in the small SUV segment. The robust exterior is perfectly complemented by its luxurious interiors and offers a powerful yet comfortable driving experience.

Volvo XC40

Source: Volvo

Pros
Handsome exterior body
Plenty of features available as standard offerings
Cabin is well-equipped and practically crafted
Cons
The engines are noisy
Infotainment system needs improvement

The vehicle has received a 5-star rating from NHTSA, and it’s also IIHS’ Top Safety Pick. On the reliability scale of JD Power, it has secured a score of 78/100.

Some of the standard safety features include driver, front head and rear head airbags, adaptive headlights, auto emergency braking (along with pedestrian detection), lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, as well as an optional semi-autonomous driving mode.

9. Mazda CX 3

Type: 2-row compact SUV, Price: $21,965, Reliability Score: 75/100

This crossover SUV has to be one of the most dependable vehicles you will find in recent times. Boasting a unique stylized body, stunning interiors, and fuel-efficient engine, you are sure to enjoy a smooth and worry-free ride.

Volvo XC40

Source: Mazda

Pros
Eye-catching exterior styling
Good fuel economy
Agile handling
Cons
Cramped passenger seating area
Not enough cargo space

Mazda CX 3 has made it to IIHS’s Top Safety Pick+ and has received a 5-star safety rating from NHTSA. Thanks to the inclusion of advanced driver assistance features, this one offers a highly reliable ride on all kinds of roads.

Some of the standard safety features are adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, rear-cross traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning. Mazda CX-3 has received 75/100 from GD Power.

10. Ford Explorer

Type: 3-row midsize SUV, Price: $34,540, Reliability Score: 74/100

Ford Explorer’s roomy cabin, refined ride quality, and powerful engine have been the talk of the automotive industry. If you’re here for a dependable and reliable ride, you can definitely take a look at this midsize SUV.

Volvo XC40

Source: Ford

Pros
Practically designed interior
Suitable for families
Multiple trim levels suitable for a diverse target audience
Cons
Third row isn't spacious enough
Upper trim levels are too pricey

Ford Explorer has received an overall 74/100 reliability score from JD Power, which is based on the cumulative calculation of quality and reliability, driving experience, resale value, and dealership experience. NHTSA has given it the highest 5-star rating. However, Ford Explorer failed to become an IIHS Top Safety Pick as its overlap front-crash test couldn’t yield satisfactory results.

Equipped with automated emergency braking, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning, Explorer doesn’t disappoint on the safety front. Besides the standard and advanced safety features, you can also upgrade your vehicle with self-park assist.

Vehicle
Nissan Armada
BMW X6
Kia Sportage
Toyota Highlander
Subaru Forester
Chevy Equinox
Hyundai Palisade
Volvo XC 40
Mazda CX 3
Ford Explorer
JD Power Score
87/100
86/100
84/100
82/100
82/100
81/100
81/100
78/100
75/100
74/100
NHTSA
NA
NA
5-Start
5-Start
5-Start
5-Start
5-Start
5-Start
5-Start
5-Start
IIHS
NA
NA
Top Safety Pick
Top Safety Pick
Top Safety Pick
X
Top Safety Pick+
Top Safety Pick
Top Safety Pick+
Top Safety Pick

Wrapping Up

Be it a pre-owned SUV or a brand new one, having a comprehensive idea about the safety and reliability ratings of the vehicles will help you make the right decision. When you own a car with premium safety features and a high reliability score, you will not only enjoy a worry-free ride, but you’ll also receive a good price in case you want to resale the car in the future.

FAQs

What are the most reliable SUVs of all time?

Some of the most reliable SUVs of all time are Nissan Armada, BMW X6, and Kia Sportage.

What is reliability rating in cars?

The reliability rating of a car is based on multiple factors, such as quality of ride, performance, safety, resale value, and so on. The reliability score or rating of a vehicle gives the buyer assurance that their purchase is safe and dependable.

Are SUVs more reliable than sedans?

SUVs are designed to ride on rough and rocky terrains, so their parts and mechanisms are of superior quality. The body of an SUV is sturdier than a sedan, and it also comes with more safety features. So when it’s the question of reliability, an SUV always has the upper hand.

What are the most important safety features in an SUV?

Some of the most important safety features in an SUV are:

  • Blind-spot monitoring system
  • Automated emergency braking
  • Electronic stability control
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Adjustable seat belts
  • Side and curtain airbags

What cars have the least problems?

If we are to pick one particular SUV that has the least number of problems, it has to be the Subaru Forester.

Which is the most reliable 4x4 in the world?

The Volvo XC 40 is the most reliable 4×4 in the world.