Is Toyota reliable? An unbiased look at the car manufacturer

How reliable are Toyota? We take a look...

As of 2016, Toyota were the world’s largest car manufacturer. They were also the world’s first car manufacturer to produce more than 10 million vehicles per year and are the market leader in sales of hybrid electric vehicles.

Toyota’s are a common sight on British roads, and there aren’t many people who haven’t heard of a Toyota model. But, in amongst their huge achievements, can they tick off dependability? Are Toyota reliable?

In this article, we look at how reliable Toyota are, and how this compares to their rivals.

Are Toyota Reliable?

Yes, they are. Toyota have consistently been a dependable car brand for many years now, and have been on multiple reliability charts.

ReliabilityIndex puts them in 4th place, with a reliability index of 59. This is an impressive score, as the industry average is 118 and the lower the score the better. They also place seven Toyota models in their Top 100 cars for reliability, with the Toyota iQ in first place with a reliability index of just 3. You literally cannot beat that.

In a survey by the Telegraph, Toyota come in 9th place for dependability, with 96 problems per 100 vehicles. Consumer Reports are also kind about Toyota, with several models coming top in their respective classes for reliability.  

How reliable is the Toyota Auris?

If we look at individual models, then we can see that many of these are also hugely reliable. The Toyota Auris is a popular small family car, and is as dependable as they come. It has a reliability index of just 45, with an average repair cost of £363.21. It spends on average 1.98 hours off the road when it does need to be repaired, which isn’t too bad though it’s not the lowest in its class. It appears that the electrics are the main problem, accounting for 19.64% of all issues.

a blue Toyota Auris outside a city in beached area

Despite its high reliability, you should always be aware of the problems you may encounter further down the line. Problems for the Auris may include;

  • Heavy oil consumption
  • Front seat wear and tear
    • Seats tend to wear quickly in the Auris, so be aware of that if you are looking at a used model.
  • Lack of power
    • This could be due to a blocked exhaust gas re-circulation valve (which you should clean to fix)

Is the Toyota Prius reliable?

The Prius has a reliability index of 45, and an average repair cost of £476.33. This is fairly pricey, but we will come onto why that might be later on in the article. It also spends an average of 2.64 hours off road, which is a bit more than some of its main competitors. That said, it still has a great reliability index and came first in two categories for reliability on Consumer Reports. These categories included Subcompact Cars and Compact Cars.  

One of the problems that stick out the most with the Prius is that the headlights randomly turn off while driving. If you are looking for a used car, then you will want to enquire about this.

Toyota Yaris dependability

The Toyota Yaris is even more dependable than the two models above. It has a reliability index of 32, with average repair costs coming in at £247.73. It is off the road for 1.62 hours on average. The main problems appear to be with the axle and suspension, accounting for 30.86% of all problems.

Some other problems you may encounter include;

Black and white Toyota Yaris inside a showroom with marble floor and orange lighting
  • Gearbox changing problem
    • This can be found on the manual gearbox and is due to the syncromesh.
  • Rear wheel bearing failure
    • Rear wheel bearings on the Yaris are prone to premature wear
  • Air conditioning failure
    • This can also be found on the Yaris and is down to problems with the compressor

Toyota Rav4 reliability

The Toyota Rav4 was voted most reliable car by AutoExpress and also won most reliable in its class (Small SUVs) on Consumer Reports. However, Reliability Index doesn’t appear to be as kind to it, giving it a reliability index of 99. This is still a good score, but is not as good as other Toyota’s. The average repair costs are £448.98 and it spends an average of 2.95 hours off-road. These last two figures could help explain why the reliability index is lower, but more on that in a little bit.

Problems you may encounter on the Rav4 include;

  • Cylinder head gasket failure
    • This is caused by the cylinder head bolts being torqued too much
  • Gearbox problems
    • This is caused by an ECU problem and is often under warranty
  • Water pump failure
    • The water pump is known to fail early on the Rav4

Overall, Toyota is an extremely reliable brand. They have consistently ranked highly on dependability charts and their cars have come first in their class for their reliability. While there have been some problems with some models, this is understandable and there have been fewer issues with Toyota models than there are with others.

Close up image of the silver toyota badge
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Why are Toyota reliable?

Toyota have always been known for creating solid cars that are also very dependable.

One of the reasons for this is down to the simplicity of the manufacturing and the models. This is by no means a bad thing, as it means that the cars are affordable. This affordability is then reflected in the repair costs, as parts are more common and cheaper to replace or repair.

It also means that there is less to go wrong in the car. In-car technology can bring down the dependability in models, and has done in the past. While this in-car technology is appealing to buyers, it can go wrong and this can bring the dependability down. It is also more expensive to fix.

This might also be why the Rav4 has a lower reliability. The repair costs are quite high, and it’s off the road for quite some time. This can greatly lower dependability. Therefore, this could be why ReliabilityIndex have lowered the score compared to the likes of Consumer Reports.

Toyota vs. Honda vs. Nissan

So how does Toyota compare when it comes to some of its rivals?

Toyota, Honda, and Nissan are all known for their dependability, so you won’t go wrong with any of these brands. But which one is best?

Honda are an extremely reliable brand, coming in 2nd on ReliabilityIndex. They are awarded a reliability index of just 42. Their supermini, the Honda Jazz, has a reliability index of just 12 and average repair costs of £394.95. The Jazz spends on average 1.08 hours off road. The Honda Civic also does well, with a reliability index of 31 and an average repair cost of £339.32. However, it’s their CR-V that highlights the difference in dependability. The CR-V has a reliability index of 59 and an average repair cost of £352.54. This is considerably better than the Rav4. It also only spends an average of 1.89 hours off the road.

Red Toyota CR-V 2015 on the road

Nissan come 9th on ReliabilityIndex, with a reliability index of 88. The Nissan Micra has a reliability index of 34 and average repair costs of £252.07. It also spends an average time off the road of just 1.33 hours. The Nissan Qashqai is also an extremely reliable car, with a reliability index of 70. It’s average repair costs are steeper, at £346.48. The average time off the road is 2.01 hours. The Nissan X-Trail doesn’t fare as well but it still scores well. It has a reliability index of 84 with an average repair cost of £334.40.

Each brand is very dependable, so there’s no definitive answer to which one is more reliable. Honda as a brand are more reliable than Toyota and Toyota is more reliable than Nissan, but all have models that are more reliable than the others. So really, it’s down to you which model you go for.

What are the most reliable Toyota’s?

The following are the most reliable Toyota models;

  • Toyota iQ
  • Toyota Prius
  • Toyota Yaris
  • Toyota Auris

What are the least reliable Toyota’s?

The lease dependable models are as follows;

  • Toyota Avensis
  • Toyota Hilux
  • Toyota Land Cruiser

In conclusion, Toyota are a very dependable car brand. They have been on reliability tables for some time now, making their way into the top five and ten often. Their models have come top in their class for reliability, including the Prius. However, their repair costs can be quite high, which can bring down the dependability. When it comes to their rivals, they fare well, so it doesn’t really matter which brand you go for, as they are all as reliable as each other. Ultimately, if you want a solidly built car that drives well, gets you from A to B and won’t spend more time in the garage then it does on the road, then you should definitely look at getting a Toyota.

Not sure which Toyota is right for you? Read our comprehensive reviews today
Rachel Richardson
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  • Vladimir Ivanov| 23rd January 2020 at 5:08 pm Reply

    I have been shocked by the fact, that you have put Land Cruiser in the list of most unreliable Toyota cars. In most countries, where it is actively used, it is known for being extremely reliable (especially, in the eastern part). I am from Russia and all Land Cruisers here (trust me, Russia is filled with them) have a reputation of a tank-like machine, which is impossible to break. I own a Land Cruiser 100 myself for 15 years now and it has traveled 296.000 km without a major break down (only regular tech service). Please tell me, what have you based your conclusion on? To be fair, I am enraged by it.

    • Josh Bensadon| 29th May 2020 at 8:30 pm Reply

      Vladimir, I agree with you, the Land Cruiser has very few complaints. The Toyota with the most complaints is the RAV4 with 2300 complaints. This is still better than Honda CRV with 3000 complaints.
      But if you want to see the real difference, look at Corolla with only 1,382 complaints vs Civic with 6,424 complaints.

      • Rachel Richardson| 1st June 2020 at 11:53 am Reply

        Hi Josh,
        Thank you for your comment regarding the Land Cruiser. We have looked at figures for our UK-based audience as we are a UK company. The data we have used for our article is from multiple UK sources, including consumer reports and warranty companies who provide information about the number of vehicles that they have had repaired under warranties in a specific period of time. I am sure that US readers will find your information helpful.

    • Rachel Richardson| 24th January 2020 at 8:11 am Reply

      Hi Vladimir,

      Thank you for your comment. We base our reports on data from consumer reports, information from warranty companies who get their data from vehicles that require warranty repairs and insurance company data. We are not sponsored by any company to write our reports and therefore maintain a balanced and unbiased view. We are sorry if you are enraged by this information, however it is from UK-based sources as we are a UK company.

      • Vladimir Ivanov| 24th January 2020 at 9:11 am Reply

        You do not have to be sorry, I am just interested in the source of information you use. As far as I know, there are not a lot of Land Cruisers in the UK.

        • Rachel Richardson| 24th January 2020 at 1:23 pm Reply

          Hi Vladimir,
          Looking at the information available for 2019, the Land Cruiser is still considered relatively unreliable on the UK market. One thing that is taken into account when measuring reliability is the cost of repairs when it does break down, and this is relatively high for Toyota which itself is felt to be an overall reliable manufacturer. Also, the most common issues reported by those who have had to get their vehicle repaired is the braking system – something which you would (obviously) prefer not to have problems with.

  • John| 19th July 2019 at 6:48 pm Reply

    My 2011 Corolla is very reliable. I use it for uber and done 270,000 km here in Australia. Still can get a lot of mileage out of it til it dies. I’m guessing anywhere up to 500,000km is very reliable indeed.

    • Rachel Richardson| 23rd July 2019 at 9:11 am Reply

      Hi John,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s always good to hear from people who have extensive driving experience with their cars. The Corolla has recently relaunched in the UK, so we are hoping this new model will be as reliable as yours is proving to be.

  • Michael| 17th July 2019 at 11:29 pm Reply

    Have a toyota avensis as a taxi vehicle.reliable is a joke,I have had to get a new alternater fixed and now it is off the road due to the diesel lift send pump packing in.why put your reputation at risk by using bmw parts and engine!!!

    • Abbie Rawcliffe| 18th July 2019 at 10:34 am Reply

      Hi Michael, Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We are sorry that you haven’t had a more positive one with your Toyota.

  • Mike Parisi| 25th June 2019 at 5:28 am Reply

    I have a Honda Pilot with 145000 miles and I haven’t done anything but regular maintenance to it,I know people who have the Toyota Highlander who can’t say the same thing.

    • Josh Bensadon| 29th May 2020 at 8:20 pm Reply

      Honda Pilot has twice as many registered complaints as Toyota Highlander. But these are just average numbers and you are obviously lucky to have a Pilot without problems. In general, if you dig through real complaints, you will find Toyota has far less reliability complaints than Honda across all the models that they make… and Toyota makes at least twice as many models and sells 10 times more cars than Honda. Pretty impressive for Toyota!

      • Rachel Richardson| 1st June 2020 at 11:50 am Reply

        Hi Josh,
        Thank you for your comment. However, the Pilot is not sold on the UK market and therefore reliability figures for this particular model are not relevant for our core audience.

    • Rachel Richardson| 26th June 2019 at 8:26 am Reply

      Hi Mike,
      Thank you for your comment. I know that it will be helpful to our readers in the US where these models are available.

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