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A great way to reduce the uncertainty in buying a used car is to shop for cars with proven reliability. The lists on these pages can guide you to the best and help you steer clear of the worst.
CONSUMER REPORTS annually surveys its more than 5 million magazine and online subscribers. They're asked to list any serious problems they've had with their vehicles during the past 12 months. The 2003 survey garnered about 675,000 responses, allowing CR to publish the most comprehensive reliability information available.
The results detail how 1996 through 2003 vehicles are holding up. To see reliability ratings in 14 trouble areas, refer to the Reliability History charts beginning on page 195. On these pages we look at the overall reliability and separate the models into lists that highlight the best and worst.
CR Good Bets (below) are the best of the best; they have performed well in our road tests and have been consistently better than average in overall reliability. The complete list of Reliable Used Cars (pages 189-190) includes all the models that have had above-average reliability, according to our survey, and divides models by price category, make, and model year.
Used Cars to Avoid (pages 191-192) shows you all models, by manufacturer and year, that have had below-average reliability, according to our 2003 survey. Repeat Offenders (page 191) are models that are especially risky buys. They have exhibited several years of poor overall reliability.
GOOD BET These models represent the best of both worlds They have performed well in CONSUMER REPORTS tests over the years and have had much-better-than-average reliability for multiple years. They are listed alphabetically. Acura Integra Acura MDX Acura RL Acura TL Buick Regal Chevrolet/Geo Prizm Chrysler PT Cruiser Ford Escort Honda Accord Honda Civic Honda CR-V Honda Odyssey Honda Prelude Honda S2000 Infiniti G20 Infiniti I30, I35 Infiniti QX4 Isuzu Oasis Lexus ES300 Lexus GS300/GS400, GS430 Lexus LS400, LS430 Lexus RX300 Lincoln Town Car (except '03) Mazda 626 …