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Consumer Reports’ Most Reliable Models for 2021: Hail the Prius

Toyota Prius AWD-e | Photo: Toyota
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Derek Boshouwers
Mazda might be the most reliable overall brand this year, but Toyota and Lexus are still in the game

Last week we looked at Consumer Reports’ newly published ranking of the most reliable car brands in 2020. Their brand ranking, which saw Mazda surpass Toyota and Lexus this year in a bit of a shock result, is based on the average score accumulated by all of a brand’s models.

Today we figured we’d dig into which individual models came up roses in the annual CR survey, specifically in terms of what their history of reliability says about their 2021 editions. What Consumer Reports calls the Predicted Reliability Score. To determine those scores, the magazine picked the brains of some 329,000 owners of 2000-2020 model-year vehicles. It then uses this data as well as the results of its own testing to give each model a score that "predicts" the level of reliability they are likely to deliver in 2021. Only vehicles for which there are two model-years-worth of data available are eligible for consideration.

While the overall brand ranking for 2020 saw Mazda shove Toyota and Lexus out of their customary one-two slot at the top of the podium, when it came to individual models the natural order of things was respected. The Toyota Prius hybrid car earned a score of 93 out of 100. The Lexus NX compact SUV and Buick Encore subcompact SUV finished tied for second place with a score of 91.

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Lexus NX F Sport
Lexus NX F Sport | Photo: Lexus
Buick Encore
Buick Encore | Photo: Buick

Rounding out the top 5 are the Lexus GX large SUV and the much, much smaller Honda HR-V, tied at 90.

In case you were wondering what the top model representing new reigning champion Mazda is, that would be the Mazda CX-5, and with a score of 85 it sits down in 10th. Which means of course that Mazda did well across its entire lineup to wind up in top overall spot for reliability.

2021 Mazda CX-5 100th Anniversary Edition
2021 Mazda CX-5 100th Anniversary Edition | Photo: D.Heyman

Here’s the full Top 10 ranking for most dependable vehicle models in 2020, according to Consumer Reports:

No. 1 – Toyota Prius (93 out of 100)
No. 2 – Lexus NX (91)
No. 2 (tied) – Buick Encore (91)
No. 4 – Lexus GX (90)
No. 4 (tied) – Honda HR-V (90)
No. 6 – Toyota Prius Prime (88)
No. 7 – Hyundai Kona (87)
No. 8 – Audi A5 (86)
No. 8 (tied) – Audi A4 (86)
No. 10 – Mazda CX-5 (85)

Derek Boshouwers
Derek Boshouwers
Automotive expert
  • Over 5 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 50 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 30 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists