The Top 9 “Real Durable” Cars that Real People Want to Drive
By MATTHEW CLAYSON, 12/18/2018
Let’s talk about vehicles that take a beating and run. And run. And run almost forever. Automobiles that love it when you rack up the miles, hit the potholes, load up the kids, transport the pets and hit up the worksite. Cars and trucks that are built for active lifestyles and minimal maintenance. Vehicles that are durable. And reliable.
Now, there are scores of lists that rank the most dependable and longest lasting vehicles. And they’re all over the map as related to make, manufacturer, segment, price and trim, making for frustrating research and shopping experience. Lists that rank the Honda Fit, Mazda Miata, Lexus GX and Toyota Prius as some of the top most “durable” cars. Now, let’s be honest, when we think durability, neither the sub-compact Honda Fit, the sporty Mazda Miata, the luxurious Lexus GX nor the fuel-sipping Prius come to mind, especially for today’s modern family or worker needing a car that is not afraid to take a beating. What comes to mind are real durable cars that real people want to drive. Sturdy sedans, reliable compacts, sporty crossover vehicles, spacious sport utility vehicles and rugged trucks.
Since 2015, we have talked to thousands of car shoppers every day, listening to their preferences while researching the best vehicles at the best prices to meet the needs of today’s busy, active lifestyles. Over the course of these conversations, we have noticed some trends. Trends that may be missed by the other lists that are out there. Trends that indicate shoppers consider old standbys – think Toyota Camrys and Honda Civics – but are increasingly considering crossovers, sport utility vehicles, and trucks when assessing durability and reliability.
The methodology behind our Top 9 list is simple: we cross-reference best-in-class rankings for vehicle dependability - e.g. J.D. Power’s “U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study”- against 2018 sales numbers provided by our proprietary datasets and the conversations that we are having with real shoppers and generate our Top 9 list of real durable cars that real people want to drive.
So, without further ado, our Top 9 list of today’s most durable, most reliable cars and trucks.
#9. Honda Civic
Base MSRP Range: $19,450 - $27,300
Like a trusty dog, the Honda Civic has served as a reliable standby for generations of sensible, pragmatic shoppers looking for an easy, efficient car that runs and runs and runs. Just think of how many 2000 era silver Civics you see on the road today, obediently transporting their owners from place-to-place without worry or concern. While the 2019 Civic won’t win any awards for its styling; it gets props for a base engine that is efficient and reliable, a stable ride and an interior that has a lot of storage space for its class. Available in coupe, 4-door sedan or hatchback, the Civic has a body style for every need. Need some salt and spice? There is a 306 hp Type-R version that will have commuters mistaking you for Vin Diesel during your commute to the office. As an added, but not surprising, bonus: Honda rates amongst the top brands in J.D. Power’s 2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study.
#8. Nissan Rogue
Base MSRP Range: $24,800 - $32,890
The 2019 Nissan Rogue is affordable, easy to drive, spacious and quiet. Nissan has a good thing going here, and it knows it. And for 2019, Nissan is not fixing what is not broken. Ranking as one of the top 10 best-selling automobiles in 2018, the Nissan Rogue keeps its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and variable transmission. Exterior and interior remain unchanged, sporting architecture and styling almost entirely indistinguishable from what it sported during its second-generation launch in 2013. Again, why mess up a good thing? Standard safety gear includes lane-departure warning and prevention, forward-collision warning, and automatic emergency braking, ensuring driver and passengers are reliably transported from one destination to the next. A good choice for stop-and-go traffic, the 2019 Rogue also includes steering assistance and active cruise control. Topping the list of reliable features and durable styling that persists is Nissan’s dependability rankings, which J.D. Power has recognized to be class-leading in its 2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study.
#7. Toyota Highlander
Base MSRP Range: $31,030 - $48,280
The Toyota Highlander is a predictable choice when it comes to durability: regularly gracing various durability and reliability lists and remaining top of mind for many shoppers looking for an easy choice for their next vehicle. Powered by a standard 3.5 liter V6 engine and punchy eight-speed automatic transmission, Toyota’s flagship SUV, the Highlander packs three rows of seats into a rounded, non-offensive body style adorned by simple interior features. Think of it as a mini-van meets SUV. Want second row captain’s chairs? You got it. Rather have a bench for the kids to grind their muddy boots in? Check. And either choice comes standard with Toyota’s durable cloth or optional leather product. Soft plastics and rugged carpeting adorn dashboards and almost every other surface, ensuring easy clean-up for those juice spills and muddy messes. As expected, quality is not a concern, given Toyota’s consistent high rankings in J.D. Power’s U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study.
#6. Toyota Sienna
Base MSRP Range: $30,740 - $48,615
It cannot be a durability and reliability ranking without a mini-van, the no-nonsense, no-frills, take a lickin’ and keep on kickin’ workhorse of suburban families everywhere. Topping the list in terms of reliability and durability is the Toyota Sienna, a low, lengthy, super-spacious people hauler that has enough room to keep the kids separated, enough plastic and carpet to repel all mud and spills and enough storage space for soccer balls, backpacks, golf clubs, dry cleaning and anything else the modern family needs to cram in this rec room on wheels. With comfortable and quiet handling, the Sienna gets families where they need to go without unnecessary drama. The 3.5 liter V6 is lively, and a new eight-speed automatic transmission results in a slightly more responsive driving experience. Available all-wheel drive sets it apart from its competition, resulting in a reliable choice for those looking for a bit of added reassurance in challenging weather conditions. Standard safety features include forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. As expected, quality is not a concern, given Toyota’s consistent high rankings in J.D. Power’s U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study.
#5. Toyota Camry
Base MSRP Range: $23,845 - $34,600
Critics deride it for its bland styling and numbing ride, but American’s love it. And, as Americans, who are we to let critics tell us what we want and what we don’t want? America’s top-selling sedan for years, if not decades – yes, we have lost track – the Toyota Camry has been completely redesigned for 2019, introducing snazzier styling and more responsive handling without sacrificing its comfort, space or the reliable, Tom Hanks-like persona. Toyota has been long known for its commitment to efficiency, and it does not disappoint with its 2019 Camry, where a standard 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine gets an impressive 32 mpg overall. For those who want to push the limits, a 3.5-liter V6 is also available. Like the Highlander and Sienna, the 2019 Camry is paired with a responsive eight-speed automatic transmission. Standard safety equipment includes forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, but blind-spot warning is optional. As expected, quality is not a concern, given Toyota’s consistent high rankings in J.D. Power’s U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study.
#4. Buick Envision
Base MSRP Range: $41,995 - $43,600
A newcomer to the scene, the Buick Envision is Buick’s latest entry into the growing, increasingly popular mid-size SUV segment. Sitting between the compact Buick Encore and the roomy, three-row Buick Enclave, the Envision offers two rows of spacious seating and ample cargo space for hauling all of today’s necessities. Think big loads from the Home Depot, soccer equipment, golf clubs, coolers full of goodies for a weekend at the lake. A suite of active safety features includes forward-collision warning and lane departure mitigation systems and automatic braking. A standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive packs plenty of punch while maintaining efficiency that the increasingly energy conscious shopper demands. A sporty turbo engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission is offered for the enthusiast. Standard is Buick’s commitment to quality and dependability, which has been recognized by J.D. Power as amongst the top 5 in its 2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study.
#3. Kia Sorento
Base MSRP Range: $25,600 - $46,490
Packing more value per pound than its Toyota or Honda competitors, the Kia Sorento continues to be top shopper choice in the mid-size SUV class when it comes to durability and reliability. For those wanting to make a statement without sacrificing reliability, the Kia Sorento offers styling is more modern and aggressive than the Toyota Highlander or the Honda Pilot. Packing three-rows of seating and powered by a standard V6 engine with an all new eight-speed transmission, the Sorento is a good choice for an active family looking to be transported worry-free and in style. And speaking of worry free experiences, Kia placed as the highest ranked non-luxury car brand on J.D. Power’s 2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study.
#2. Ford F-150
Base MSRP Range: $27,705 - $64,275
America’s best-selling vehicle for the first half of 2018, the Ford F-150 is a perennial favorite for the shopper seeking a truck that can rack up the miles, haul the big loads and comfortably fit a family in style. Lighter than in year’s past, thanks to an all-aluminum body that sheds about 700 pounds of weight, the F-150 is amongst the most fuel efficient full-size pickup trucks available. Various engine options offer shoppers choice between efficiency, power and pep. Yes, pep – something you do not think of when you’re considering a full-size truck. Nonetheless, step inside of a F-150 equipped with a 3.5-liter turbo V8 and you’ll think otherwise. Safety features include forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, which are standard for 2019 model season. Ford’s commitment to quality places it behind brands such as Chevrolet but ahead of GMC, Dodge and Ram when it comes to vehicle dependability rankings as compiled by J.D. Power in its 2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study.
#1. Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Base MSRP Range: $27,785 - $56,600
Amongst the top selling vehicles for 2018, the completely redesigned Chevrolet Silverado combines power, space and signature aggressive Chevrolet styling. Responding to shopper preferences for more features and luxury finishes, the 2018 Silverado includes a power liftgate and additional trim variants, such as the Custom Trail BOSS and RST. Fuel efficiency is optimized via a displacement-on-demand / advanced cylinder deactivation system. Think of this system as a smart engine that fires up all cylinders when power, torque or acceleration is needed and then shuts them off to coast when they are no longer needed. Available safety features include forward collision warning, low-speed automatic braking, lane-keeping assist with lane departure warning, blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. Backed by Chevrolet’s commitment to quality, which J.D. Power has recognized as the top of all major truck brands in its 2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, the 2019 Silverado 1500 is a sure bet for a reliable, efficient and good-looking truck.