Are you looking for a small car that's built to last? Happily for motorists, many of the major vehicle manufacturers score similarly in modern reliability surveys. Read on to discover seven of the most reliable small cars - perfect for drivers who want to keep time off the road for repairs to an absolute minimum.
There are plenty of reasons why the Toyota Corolla has been Australia's best-selling small car for many years. One of the most important is its impressive reputation for dependability. Well-equipped, reasonably economical on fuel and a joy to drive, many drivers find that a Corolla that's been around the clock will still provide thousands of kilometres of reliable motoring.
Another advantage of opting for a Corolla is that obtaining spare parts is straightforward. If you're handy with a socket set, Corollas also have a reputation for being easy to maintain by amateur mechanics.
Toyota tops the reliability rankings in several major surveys across the globe, so it's little surprise that Corolla is a choice you can trust.
2. Mazda CX-3
The stylish CX-3 has won everything from Car of the Year (2018) to Best City SUV. Beautifully styled inside and out, the CX-3 is a good-looking light SUV that has a luxury vibe for a relatively modest price tag. Features include keyless locking and push-button start, a suite of autonomous driving and safety features, a leather-clad steering wheel, and a 5-start ANCAP safety rating.
Reviewers are quick to praise its handling and performance, particularly if you opt for a CX-3 Maxx Sport or Maxx Sport LE. They also suggest that the CX-3 offers excellent value - prices are surprisingly competitive. In 2022, the base-spec CX-3 costs just $23,190. Prices for a CX-3 Maxx Sport start from around $25,190.
Mazda has been voted one of the most reliable car manufacturers in a 2021 CanStarBlue survey, Mazda was voted the second most reliable car manufacturer (behind Isuzu).
3. Honda Civic
The Honda Civic was first introduced here way back in 1972. Since then, it's proved itself to be a well-liked family hatchback, not least because it is a car that keeps on going. Voted Japan Car of the Year four times, the Civic has also distinguished itself by being America's best-selling passenger car for the past six years.
One of Honda's core values is sustainability, which perhaps goes some way to explaining why the Civic is a car you can count on. A little like the Corolla, parts and spares are easy to come by. They're not the cheapest car in their class, but many drivers feel that the additional outlay to own a Civic is compensated for by the comfort, reliability and practicality that are all hallmarks of this model.
Backed by the engineering might of the VW group (who also own prestige brands such as Bentley, Porsche and Lamborghini), the Polo benefits from solid build quality and some innovative technology. Polos have been on sale here since 1996, but have been in production since the 1970s. During this time, the model has gained considerable popularity - there's even a Polo enthusiasts club! Drivers love the Polo for its superior interior quality, as well as the skilled engineering that goes into the chassis and engine.
Read The 2022 VW Polo Review
The deceptively simple, timeless design of the exterior belies the sophisticated suite of autonomous driver and safety features that comes with the Polo. Other features of the modern Polo include alloys, climate control, LED headlights, a leather-coated steering wheel and a state-of-the-art infotainment system.
5. Hyundai i30
The i30 finished in second place for reliability in a 2017 What Car reliability survey. Hyundai also finished thirteenth out of thirty car manufacturers in a 2021 CanStarBlue reliability survey. The i30 came out in 2007. Since then, it's proved to be a popular car that also lasts - there are plenty of early models still going strong.
Check Out The i30 N Hatch Review
Motorists are drawn to the i30 by its competitive pricing, low running costs, and a surprising amount of interior space. It's also well-known for comfort, which is always an important consideration. Although awareness of the i30's benefits is growing, it still doesn't have the widespread appeal of a Corolla, CX-3 or similar. This means it's often possible to pick up a used i30 for a very attractive price.
6. Suzuki Swift
Sometimes classed as a supermini, the Swift is a small hatchback that's cheap to run. Its modest dimensions are at odds with the interior space - the rear seats can be configured to increase boot space if required. This is a car that's intended for urban driving. It's perfectly sized for smaller car parking spaces or other situations where every millimetre makes a difference.
The Swift isn't the most sophisticated car on the market but does have a 5-star ANCAP rating and enough autonomous tech to protect both the driver and passengers. It's also dependable, ranking in the top 20 most reliable cars in a recent What Car survey. This Suzuki has also won Indian Car of the Year three times. If you crave cost-effective motoring in a car you can rely on, the Swift could be the perfect solution.
7. Kia Cerato
For drivers who want a budget small car that's reliable and extremely cheap to run, look no further than the Cerato. Although current iterations have become relatively expensive, a used Kia is often an excellent bargain. Like the Swift, the Cerato is designed to be an urban car. Compact dimensions are offset by good use of interior space. Fuel consumption is competitive.
Kia is usually in the top half of most reliability surveys, which means a Cerato is likely to last well and have few problems. If you decide on a new option, the generous 7-year warranty means that if there is a problem, it won't cost you to get it fixed. Make sure that if you do buy a Cerato, it includes the safety pack. Higher spec Ceratos, or a base-spec with a safety pack, have a five-star ANCAP safety rating. Without the safety pack, the rating drops to four stars.
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