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Most and least reliable sporty cars

Honda, Mazda, and Porsche shine for reliability

Published: November 03, 2014 04:30 PM
Photo: Honda

Sports cars are a passion purchase, selected for their styling, character, performance, and even legacy. They make a statement, while transforming a commute into a thrill ride. But there remains practical considerations with any car purchase and chief among them is reliability.

With sports cars, reliability is elusive. As we have seen over the years, reliability is highly variable, with many models seeing an ebb and flow that defies clear trends. One year, a car can have a good outlook, but a change to the powertrain or other system can rapidly reverse that trend. (See our guide to car reliability.)

This year, we see the most reliable sporty cars coming from brands known for reliability: Honda and Mazda. But, this really isn’t a category where reputation serves as a fair guide. Look to the bottom of the list, and you’ll find Scion and Subaru—two more brands also known for exceptional reliability.

Porsche makes the grade this year with the Cayman and the Boxster, two related, delightfully entertaining models. The flagship 911 fell 10 percent below the average new car, although still considered to have average reliability in our ratings. Each Porsche prediction is based on just one year of data, rather than the preferred three.

On the muscle-car front, the Chevrolet Camaro has the advantage this year. Even though the Camaro and the Dodge Challenger are both rated as average, there is a distinct difference. The Camaro is 13-percent more reliable than the average new car, whereas the Challenger falls slightly below that target. And the Ford Mustang? The venerable pony car has been redesigned for 2015, and we will need to wait for data to be able to predict how it will hold up.

In the chart below, the "most reliable" cars are rated above average or higher. In the "least reliable" column, all cars are worse than average or lower. The least reliable car is listed first, the Subaru BRZ.

Most reliable Least reliable
Honda Civic Si
Subaru BRZ*
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Scion FR-S*
Porsche Cayman Ford Focus ST*
Audi S4
Hyundai Genesis Coupe*
Porsche Boxster  

If a model was new or redesigned in the last year, or if we lack sufficient data for some years, we might use data from only one model year, as indicated by an asterisk (*).

The reliability data is spelled out in detail on the model pages, giving great resolution into how cars have been performing historically, as well as the probability of their future performance. There, reliability is broken down into 17 areas, ranging from the engine, transmission, and brakes to power equipment and the electrical system.

Jeff Bartlett

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