Most Reliable Compact SUVs [Top Ranked Models]

Most Reliable Compact SUV

Compact SUVs the size of the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V have become a mainstay of the American automotive landscape. These types of vehicles make great family cars, are outstanding in challenging weather, do pretty well off-road in some cases, and make great commuter and multi-purpose vehicles.

One thing every owner places highly on their list of priorities is reliability. It plays a big role in determining our list of the best SUVs.

Here is our ranking of the most reliable compact SUVs from top to bottom. First, we will overview the top five models, tell you which scores lowest, and let the data chart do the talking for the also-rans.

Check out our overall picks for the most reliable SUVs here >>

Read about how we rank our vehicles >>

Who Provided the Data for This List?

Where Data Comes FromFind the Best Car Price relies on three primary sources of reliability data to choose the most reliable vehicles.

First, we look to RepairPal ratings. RepairPal is a long-trusted resource that lists how frequent and severe trips to the mechanic are for thousands of cars, and gives each vehicle a rating out of 5.

Next, we look to the J.D. Power & Associates brand rankings in its Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS). This study uses owner-reported data to score how well three-year-old vehicles are holding up.

Last, we look to CarComplaints to ensure no widespread reports of big problems with a given model.

Most Reliable Compact SUV Comparison

Model RepairPal Score
J.D. Power VDS Score
Lexus NX
Buick Envision
Mazda CX-5
Kia Sportage
Porsche Macan
Honda CR-V
Subaru Forester
Hyundai Tucson
Toyota RAV4 
Acura RDX
Chevrolet Equinox
Volvo XC40
Nissan Rogue 
VW Tiguan
Ford Escape
Jeep Cherokee
Tesla Model Y
(Worst Overall)



1. Lexus NX

Lexus NX Reliable Compact SUVThe Lexus brand is respected among consumers and testers as one of the most reliable brands in history.

Lexus is number one on the J.D. Power VDS study rankings, and only Porsche comes close. The 2024 Lexus NX has a rating of 83 out of 100 on J.D. Power.

It also boasts an impressive 4/5 reliability rating on RepairPal, ranking 2nd out of 11 for luxury compact SUVs.

Updates for 2024

The Lexus NX gets new color-coded elements on the front and rear door panels. Also, some updates have been made to the upholstery colors.

Current Lexus NX Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2022LexusNX 300
2023LexusNX 350
2024LexusNX 350
2025LexusNX 3505.99%$509/month for 36 months, $3,999 due at signing7/31/24
2025LexusNX 350h$599/month for 36 months, $3,999 due at signing7/31/24
2024LexusNX 450h+
2025LexusNX 450h+

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Lexus deals here.

2. Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5 Reliable Compact SUVWe could have ranked the Mazda CX-5 equal to the Lexus NX on this list.

The CX-5 has a 4.5/5 rating on RepairPal, ranking 1st out of 26 on RepairPal's list of mid-sized SUVs.

It also has a 83/100 from J.D. Power.

The CX-5 almost never misses one of the “Best of” lists. Watch for the Mazda CX-5 to score highly on our upcoming ranking of the best-used SUVs.

Updates for 2024

The CX-5 adds the Carbon Turbo trim with Zircon Sand paint and black trim pieces, including wheels and mirror caps. This trim level features the 256-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four engine along with all-wheel drive.

Current Mazda CX-5 Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2024MazdaCX-5$1,000 0.00%$339/month for 36 months, $2,999 due at signing7/31/24

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Mazda deals here.

3. Buick Envision

Buick Envision Reliable Compact SUVThe Envision is the only model on this list made in China. GM’s import brand, Buick, scores very highly on the J.D. Power VDS ranking, and the Envision does quite well on the RepairPal score.

When the Envision first made its debut in 2016, it earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus score.

If anyone had any doubts about the quality and safety of Chinese-made vehicles, let them forever be put to rest.

Updates for 2024

The Envision receives an overall brand revision that includes slim LED lighting elements, a revised grille, and Buick's new tri-shield logo on the hood. On the interior, the Envision gets a new digital gauge display and infotainment screen mirror the dash-mounted setup.

Current Buick Envision Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2023BuickEnvision$3,500 1.40%7/31/24

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Buick deals here.

4. Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage Reliable Compact SUVSurprised to see a Kia on this list? Don’t be.

The brand has one of the highest J.D. Power VDS scores, and its Sportage earns a respectable 4/5, ranking 6th out of 26 on their list of compact SUVs.

The Sportage is a hidden gem in this segment. If you like the unusual styling, check out the Sportage when you shop for your next vehicle.

Updates for 2024

After a major revision last year, Kia Sportage got a couple of minor revisions for 2024. That includes the addition of airbags to the second-row seats and new LED projector headlights.

Current Kia Sportage Deals & Incentives

You may qualify for deals and incentives, check out this month's Kia deals here.

5. Porsche Macan

Porsche Macan Reliable Compact SUVHere’s an interesting fact; The Porsche Macan outsells all of Porsche’s car models combined in America.

Of course, Porsche cars are rarer than hens’ teeth. Despite testing exotic vehicles like Alfa Romeos, McLarens, and Maseratis, this writer isn’t sure he’s ever seen a Macan in person.

If you like exclusivity and reliability in equal measures, the Macan is for you.

Update for 2024

There are no significant updates for the 2024 model.

Current Porsche Macan Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2024PorscheMacan$849/month for 39 months, $8,649 due at signing7/31/24

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Porsche deals here.

Worst Compact SUV for Reliability - Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y Reliable Compact SUVThe Tesla Model Y launched in 2020 and earned the lowest possible score on the Consumer Reports rankings. Tesla’s brand ranking is not just last on the J.D. Power VDS, it’s so far from the mainstream in its problems per 100 vehicles they had to leave it off the main chart.

Tesla vehicles have double the problems that top-ranked brands on the VDS do. And keep in mind, it’s Tesla owners reporting these problems.

Consumer Reports has gone out of its way to warn consumers about the Model Y’s reliability record.

Biggest Compact SUV Reliability Surprises

Having let the data guide us on this ranking, it was a surprise to us that Toyota’s RAV4 and Honda's CR-V do not earn spots in the top five most reliable compact SUVs.

Toyota’s Consumer Reports score is not high enough, despite a very high brand rating by J.D. Power. Honda was moved low on the list because its J.D. Power score is not even average.

What Is the Most Reliable Compact SUV?

The compact SUV segment is packed with reliable choices. However, it is the Lexus NX that stands above the others. The 2024 model year NX is at the end of its generation, which always means the bugs have been worked out. Heading into 2022 the new NX will primarily use proven powertrains from other Toyota/Lexus family vehicles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who makes the most reliable small SUV?

Our research compiling both RepairPal and J.D. Power scores indicate that the Lexus NX is the most reliable small SUV. Mazda’s CX-5 and Buick’s Envision round out the podium.

Which is the most reliable compact SUV for 2021?

Reliability ratings lag model years because data to support the rankings can only be gathered after the vehicle has had some time on the road. Our analysis of the data shows that the Mazda CX-5, Buick Envision, and Lexus NX look promising.

Which compact SUV has the lowest reliability ratings?

On both the RepairPal and J.D. Power rankings, the Tesla Model Y scores lowest among SUVs smaller than midsized.

How do you know if a vehicle is reliable?

There are some great resources out there to find out if your vehicle is reliable. RepairPal and J.D. Power are the major ones that compile reliability data. CarComplaints is another place to check for widespread reports of big problems for a given model.