What Car Is More Reliable Than We Think?

Illustration for article titled What Car Is More Reliable Than We Think?
Photo: BMW

Some cars have a reputation for absolutely draining the bank account of their owners, but ask people who love them and they’ll tell you “It’s just a bad reputation! If you change the engine and transmission out at the suggested intervals, they’re not really that unreliable!” Stereotypes abound: Fiats fall apart at the dealership. Land Rovers will bankrupt you. Modern diesels are all garbage. Unreliability even gets applied to car brand names, too. I’m sure we’ve all heard “Fix Or Repair Daily” or “Just Empty Every Pocket.”

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But it seems some cars are unfairly labeled as unreliable and they’re actually better than what people say.

My own vehicle fleet includes a few fine examples of supposedly unreliable vehicles from a number of Volkswagens to a bunch of Smart Fortwos. Yet, none of the vehicles have given me trouble really worth noting.

Two of my four Fortwos have well over 100,000 miles each and one has needed nothing but regular maintenance while the other required an alternator. And, truth be told, the alternator was my fault for failing to clean mud out of the engine bay after taking the car into a mud bowl.

On the Volkswagen front, I’ve written about the crazy high-mileage Jetta Sportwagen TDI in the fleet. It continues to inch its way to 400,000 miles without any problems or even a check engine light.

You get where this is going. Do you have an unexpected high mileage hero? Does your cousin swear by her 500,000 2013 Dodge Dart? Is your neighbor laughing all the way to the bank with his maintenance-free Lamborghini Espada? What car do you feel—do you just know—has an undeserved bad rep? What car is more reliable than people say?

Staff Writer at Jalopnik and learning pilot. Smart Fortwo (x4), Honda Beat, Suzuki Every, AmTran Bus, VW Jetta TDI (x2), VW Touareg, Audi TT, Buell Lightning, Triumph Tiger, Genuine Stella...

DISCUSSION

v10omous
V10omous

the alternator was my fault for failing to clean mud out of the engine bay after taking the [smart] car into a mud bowl.

I’d rather hear more about this story than reading people’s anecdotes about their 200,000 mile Fiat or Range Rover or whatever.