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The Best Car Brands for 2021, According to Consumer Reports

Whether you're looking for an electric car or an SUV, Consumer Reports has analyzed the data to determine the most reliable car models for 2021.

2021 toyota prius on a rooftop ringing in the new year with fireworksvia toyota.com

The most reliable cars

It’s easy to be swayed by the sleek look of a new car, but can you count on it? Fortunately, Consumer Reports is out with its ranking of most reliable cars, so you can find out which models made the top ten. Consumer Reports based its analysis on data gathered on 329,000 vehicles. After assessing for problems ranging from squeaky brakes to problems with the four-wheel-drive, their analysts assigned each vehicle a Predicted Reliability Score ranging from 1 to 100, with 100 being the best. Here are the top ten 2021 models for reliability. Find out the best time of the week to buy a car.

2021 Toyota Priusvia toyota.com

Toyota Prius

The well-known Toyota Prius topped the list of most reliable 2021 cars with a reliability rating of 93. Testers wrote that the compact hybrid “handles responsibly and rides comfortably.” The Prius, which costs from $24,525 to $32,650, also received high marks for its fuel economy. The 2021 Prius gets an amazing up to an EPA-estimated 56 mpg in combined city/highway driving and it also comes with an option of all-wheel drive, a plus for those who live in snowy climates. Keep your car looking like new by following these car detailing secrets.

2021 Lexus NXvia lexus.com

Lexus NX

A compact luxury SUV, the 2021 Lexus NX came in second place for reliability, with a score of 91. Testers found that the vehicle was responsive to handling and good acceleration. With a price range from $37,510 to $46,810, the model also comes in at 29 miles per gallon, which experts say is great fuel economy for a luxury crossover. While this model has a backseat that’s roomy enough for adults to sit in, the trade-off is limited cargo storage space. Find out the 15 cars that owners keep the longest.

2021 Buick Encorevia buick.com

Buick Encore

A small SUV, the 2021 Buick Encore boasts some luxury features such as a smoother ride than larger SUVs, while maintaining a smaller footprint. Its reliability rating is 91, but testers found the acceleration “plodding.” The Encore’s small size makes it easy to maneuver, but the size also means it has limited cargo space and available features. The Encore is priced from $23,200 to $25,220, but testers found it gets just 23 miles to the gallon, so it’s not a standout when it comes to fuel economy and may not be the best value. If that’s important to you, consider one of these 22 cars with the best fuel economy.

2021 Lexus GXvia lexus.com

Lexus GX

Testers describe the Lexus GX as a “hulking brute,” and note that handling is “lumbering, but ultimately secure.” The six-speed automatic scores a reliability rating of 90, and the plush cabin is very comfortable, testers say. This premium model also includes premium audio and Amazon Alexa compatibility. “Unfortunately, the GX 460’s off-road focus compromises on-road comfort. We like the commanding seating position and user-friendly interior, but the ride is stiff on less-than-perfect pavement,” according to Edmunds.com. It comes in a price range from $53,100 to $64,365, but not surprisingly, don’t look to the Lexis GX for fuel economy. This model only gets about 17 miles to the gallon. Don’t miss the secrets car dealers don’t want you to know.

2021 Honda HR-Vvia honda.com

Honda HR-V

“The Honda HR-V has been on the extra-small SUV scene since 2016 and has made a name for itself as a value-packed vehicle with a clever folding back seat (Honda calls it the “Magic Seat”) and a comfortable ride,” according to Edmunds.com. Consumer Reports testers found the ride in this subcompact model stiff, but the handling responsive. The HR-V, which is priced in the $21,020 to $27,320 range, scored well in other measures, garnering a reliability rating of 90 and an impressive 29 miles per gallon. Find out what happens to the cars that don’t get sold.

2021 Toyota Prius Primevia toyota.com

Toyota Prius Prime

If you’re looking for an electric car and can charge frequently, the Toyota Prius Prime could be for you, testers say. The Prius Prime, which is priced in the $28,220 to $34,000 range, has a dual motor drive system for better efficiency and acceleration. The model received a score of 88 for reliability and testers noted its smooth ride and versatility. The Prius Prime also features a multimedia display with features like an iPhone and a smart charging cable lock to prevent against theft. Here are 13 things you should never do in your car.

2021 Hyundai Konavia hyundaiusa.com

Hyundai Kona

This subcompact SUV came in with a reliability rating of 87. Testers found that its engine could feel “sluggish” at times, but you can also get it with an optional turbocharged engine for quick acceleration. Ranging from $20,400 to $45,400, the Hyundai Kona is known for its value and easy handling. According to Edmunds.com: “It has an easy-to-use infotainment interface, smooth-operating driving aids, and quick acceleration from its optional turbocharged engine. It’s also pretty fun to drive thanks to its nimble handling and small size.” Be sure to watch out for these red flags when you’re buying a new car.

2021 Audi A5via audiusa.com

Audi A5

Those in the market for luxury will appreciate the Audi A5, which comes in coupe and convertible versions as well as a hatchback. These models include choices of powerful engines and feature stylish interiors and the latest technology. Reviewers note that the car is a dream to handle, both on daily commutes and long drives in the country. Priced in the $41,800 to $60,600 range, the Audi A5 received a reliability rating of 86 from Consumer Reports. Prefer a true vintage vehicle? See what car brands looked like 50 years ago.

2021 Audi A4via audiusa.com

Audi A4

This model provides an excellent driving experience, making it one of the highest-ranking luxury compact luxury sports sedans, according to Consumer Reports. The Audi A4 also boasts an impressive fuel economy of 27 miles per gallon. Testers also gave the model, which is priced in the $39,100-$44,600 range, a score of 86 for reliability, singling out its handling as “nimble and precise.” To keep your car in top condition, make sure you avoid these 15 things you’re doing to your car that mechanics wouldn’t.

2021 Mazda CX-5via mazdausa.com

Mazda CX-5

Looking for an all-around option? Testers describe the sporty Mazda CX-5 as “one of the next small SUVs.” Its reliability score of 85 earns the model the final spot in Consumer Reports‘ top ten list of most reliable cars. Testers say the CX-5 is enjoyable and responsive to drive. Priced in the $25,270-$37,405 range, the CX-5 also provides a 24 miles per gallon of fuel economy. Ready to hit the road? Check out the 18 best road trip cars of 2020.

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Jen McCaffery
Jen McCaffery is an associate editor for Reader’s Digest. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Prevention, Rhode Island Monthly, and other publications and websites. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s growing veggies or trying to figure out the way home from assorted trails.