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Nissan Leaf tops our car reliability survey

The all-electric Nissan Leaf was the most reliable model in our latest car reliability survey.

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Consumer NZ head of testing Paul Smith said the Leaf’s performance is perhaps no surprise, given it has no combustion engine or gearbox, the 2 most complicated and problematic parts of a car.

“Just 4% of Leafs in our survey had a major reliability problem that caused significant repair costs or time off the road. The majority of Leaf owners, 97%, were very satisfied with this electric car,” Mr Smith said.

Of 23 brands analysed in Consumer NZ’s survey, Suzuki was the most reliable with 20% of 432 Suzuki owners reporting a major failure. That compares with 33% on average across all brands. Land Rover, Volvo and Daihatsu were the worst performers, with more than half of owners reporting major problems in the past year.

“The survey results confirm what we all assume: cars get less reliable as they get older and travel more kilometres. Buyers looking for an older-than-average car might want to consider a Lexus. Fifty-seven percent of Lexus owners with cars 14 years or older reported major problems, compared with 76% of all cars this age,” Mr Smith said.

Almost half (46%) of cars on New Zealand roads are used imports, the majority from Japan. Consumer NZ’s survey found no difference in reliability between an import and a New Zealand-new car. Owners were just as satisfied too.

The survey also found buying a new car doesn’t guarantee trouble-free motoring. 13% of new cars under 4 years old suffered a major fault.

Best and worst models

Small cars
Most reliable: Suzuki Swift
Most satisfied owners: Suzuki Swift
Least reliable: Ford Fiesta
Least satisfied owners: Holden Barina

Medium cars
Most reliable: Nissan Leaf (and most reliable overall)
Most satisfied owners: Nissan Leaf
Least reliable: Toyota Caldina
Least satisfied owners: Ford Focus

Large cars
Most reliable: Skoda Octavia
Most satisfied owners: Skoda Octavia
Least reliable: Nissan Primera
Least satisfied owners: Toyota Avensis

SUVs
Most reliable: Mitsubishi ASX
Most satisfied owners: Toyota Land Cruiser
Least reliable: Ford Territory
Least satisfied owners: Holden Captiva

Our survey covered 10,350 vehicles. We analysed 23 brands and 69 models. Results are for models with more than 30 responses. Our survey asked owners about serious, major and minor faults with their cars in the past 12 months. We also asked how satisfied they were with the car and how likely they were to recommend the model to friends and family.

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