There’s a ton of car brands out there, and these days, it’s tough to tell who’s making quality and who’s making crap. So, we’re going to make it easier for you. We’ve ranked all the major car brands from worst to best and put them in this list!
And while most of the brands you see out there are owned by one of the 14 major parent companies, the quality of car you get can vary heavily from brand to brand. I’m going to use JD Power surveys, a few other metrics, and of course, my personal taste to rank these brands.
So, here you go, the brands that should be banned, and the logos to look for. We’re going to go from worst to best, and there’s a ton to get through, so we’re going to go with mostly pedestrian brands. If this article does well, we’ll make one about exotics!
The Worst: #32: Land Rover
Okay, real quick, I’m ranking Land Rover last place for good reason. I owned one. Don’t own one. Don’t buy a Land Rover. Don’t buy a Land Rover Discovery. I don’t need any stats or surveys or metrics. Land Rover is the worst.
Alright, enough said, next. Another brand to avoid like the plague is Chrysler.
They might as well rename this brand “Crap-ler” because that’s what they make: absolute crap. They’re kind of like the dollar store of car brands. And it’s not just my opinion, this is basically fact.
They rank lowest on the JD Power studies regularly, and average 113 faults per 100 cars sold. That’s right. They make more problems than they do cars. Yikes.
You’d think a company nearly 100 years old would’ve figured out how to make a decent car by now. That being said, I wouldn’t kick an SRT8 out of bed.
The next brand isn’t quite Chrysler bad, but it’s definitely isn’t good.
This one actually surprised me. For me, I hold Ford in a pretty high regard. I’ll probably own a Raptor at some point in my life. But, that might not be a great idea.
Ford is an all-around disgrace these days to what it was back in its glory days. But even though Ford has fallen off in quality, somehow, they’ve remained one of the world’s most popular car brands. However, anyone who owns a Ford will tell you they’re hunks of junk. They score almost neck-and-neck with Chrysler in terms of customer satisfaction.
But hey, at least their vehicles are somewhat more reliable, putting out less than 100 issues per 100 cars, which is setting the bar pretty low.
Now, a brand synonymous with poor reliability is Dodge.
Boy, us Americans really are #1… at making really shit cars. Like Ford, cars that bear the Dodge badge are, you guessed it, pretty awful. Customer satisfaction among Dodge owners is depressingly low, partly because Dodges are more unreliable than your pothead friend.
Now, we’re not strangers to Dodge here at Ideal. In fact, Brad and Trav bought an insanely terrible Viper a while back. And, yeah, if that car was an example of the best that Dodge can make, they deserve this ranking.
Now, American companies aren’t the only ones disgracing drivers. Whatever you do, don’t buy a Mitsubishi!
Mitsubishi might make decent TV’s and air conditioners, but they also put out some laughably bad cars. The Mitsubishi Mirage, for instance, is… a car. That’s about all that can be said for it.
Sadly, the brand that brought us the legendary Evo, and the tuner car icon Eclipse, have definitely gone downhill in recent years, ranking 30th out of 32 in initial quality. Ugh, can’t we just talk about the Evo more, please? I’m sad now.
Okay, on with the show, next up is no surprise, seeing as how much disdain I have for the British. Jaguar is bad.
While often a choice of British secret agents, Jaguar is probably not a wise choice for American car buyers. This British luxury car brand is closely associated with Land Rover, and for that reason alone, you should be very scared to buy yourself a Jag.
Not to mention, it ranks pretty low on customer satisfaction among luxury brands. Don’t be lulled in by the exhaust note of the Jaguar XF, avoid this predatory cat when possible.
And speaking of luxury divisions not being as good as their pedestrian counterparts.
Genesis isn’t really a big surprise here. They’re relatively new, pretty cheap, and are based on Hyundais. But they’re getting better, like the new G80 that seems to really have a lot going for it.
I expect over the next few years that Genesis starts climbing the ranks.
Let’s just knock this next one off the list real quick.
Yeah, Hyundai earns one spot above it’s luxury brand Genesis simply because it’s the same car without the bigger price tag. You’re getting a Hyundai either way, why spend more?
Moving on, another Asian luxury division is Infiniti, and they ain’t doing so hot.
Infiniti gets bad marks mostly because they’re a luxury car brand that leaves people feeling like they should have got an economy vehicle instead.
I love Nissans, I’ve owned quite a few, so learning that the top-tier Nissans bearing the Infiniti badge are getting dismal customer satisfaction ratings, well, color me shocked.
The good news is that means depreciation is quite high on these luxury rides. So, you can get yourself a pretty sick used Q60 for cheap, and look like a million bucks.
Now, a brand that’ll definitely not make you look like a million bucks is Fiat.
Fiat isn’t quite as bad as its ultra-crappy cousin Chrysler, but these Italian cars are far from stallions. With cars like the 1978 Fiat Ritmo, a front-drive subcompact that’s basically a flimsy piece of garbage, it’s not surprising that Fiat bowed out of the USA market for a whole 28 years from 1983 to 2001.
But, I guess they didn’t learn their lesson with the time away, as modern Fiats are equally as disastrous, ranking nearly dead last on vehicle dependability by JD Power, and having over 190 issues per 100 cars. Yeah. That’s insane.
Don’t buy a Fiat, and don’t buy a Kia while you’re at it.
Kia basically started out taking models that were discontinued by other brands and slapping the Kia logo on them, so it’s no wonder that they’ve had a history of garbage cars. In recent years, they’ve strayed away from this strategy and started making their own budget vehicles. Good call, Kia.
While they’ve certainly improved since the beginning, Kia quality still leaves a lot to be desired. Now, give me the keys to a Kia Stinger GT2 and I might move you up a few rungs of this ladder, Kia.
Next up we’re going to tell you why some Chevys should be left at the levee.
Chevy ain’t the worst of the American car brands, but it sure ain’t the best. Of course, they’ve put out some solid cars through the years, and definitely make some decent trucks.
But, never forget the SSR. Never forget the HHR. Good lord, those were awful. But the C8 Corvette is definitely a step in the right direction for Chevy.
And judging by their reliability index, a new Chevy probably won’t break down on you, which is more than can be said for this next brand.
If you’ve seen some of our videos like “Unreliable Trucks You NEED to Avoid”, you know that we’ve taken a couple digs at RAM on our channel. And that’s because they generally just don’t build high-quality pickups.
The 2002 Dodge Ram 1500, for instance, might just be the worst pickup truck of all time. And while that model is probably RAM’s cardinal sin in the truck world, there are definitely other RAM trucks that have proven unsafe and unreliable.
With RAM putting out about 105 issues per 100 vehicles, it’s no wonder they’re down here in the dumps.
Now, for probably the biggest surprise of this whole list for me.
I’m noticing sort of a trend here with Japanese luxury brands. Acura is another luxury brand that continually falls short of the mark. The “luxury” segment of its parent company Honda, you’d expect Acuras to consistently outperform cars that bear the Honda badge. But, in reality, there’s little to no difference between the performances of these two brands.
Better to go with the cheaper Honda option if you ask me.
Next up is Nissan, which hurts my little feelings a bit, but I understand why it’s in the bottom half of our list.
Now, if you ask JD Power, this is a pretty good brand, earning 9 out of 10 in overall quality. But, customer satisfaction ratings for Nissan have consistently been about average. They’re not the most reliable, they’re not the prettiest, they’re not the most luxurious or best performing. So, it makes sense.
Still, the 400Z is coming, and maybe a new GT-R, so the future is looking bright for Nissan.
Alright, we’re halfway home, it’s time for the best of the worst, Volkswagen.
The Best of the Worst: #17: Volkswagen
Honestly, VW is a decent brand that had one major slip-up: Dieselgate. Essentially, they installed a device in their cars that could detect when they were being tested and inflate their performance numbers. It put a big stain on their reputation when people found out that they were cheating emissions tests, and it seems like the German giant is still trying to recover from it.
You’ve heard it before, “Cheaters never prosper.”
A surprising name to be in the top half of the list for me is Alfa Romeo.
The Worst of the Best: #16: Alfa Romeo
Having been a fan of Top Gear for years, I assumed Alfas were just unreliable garbage. But, customers really seem to enjoy their Alfas.
Maybe that’s because they’re making desirable cars like the Giulia, which is as pretty as it is fast. And with its depreciation, it’s a cheap car that’ll make you look pretty rich.
The next German make, however, has gained the trust of tons of drivers worldwide.
It won’t surprise you that Mercedes-Benz consistently ranks high in customer satisfaction ratings, because people who own these cars are constantly talking about them. But it seems clear that Mercedes isn’t doing quite as well as it could be.
Their sales have been on a downward spiral in the last few years as people seem to be opting for more affordable brands. However, let’s not forget that they own the high-performance AMG badge, which makes some of the most awesomely powerful cars on the globe.
But, not quite as iconic as Jeep.
Ok, Jeep as a brand should be so much lower on this list. But, the Wrangler and the new JL EcoDiesel is just so damn good that I’ve bumped Jeep up a few slots here. I won’t sling too much mud at Jeep, but if they could make the rest of their lineup as good as their halo 4×4, Jeep would truly be a force to be reckoned with.
The polar opposite of mountain-crushing off-roaders are the luxury cruise ships built by American brand Cadillac.
Cadillac undoubtedly has had some bumps in its history, but it’s emerged as a brand that generally leaves its drivers happy. Caddies are barely ever recalled, and that could be why their sales have been steadily increasing for years.
Another reason is definitely their V-Series, which includes cars like the blown CTS, a supercharged sedan that comes with a manual transmission. This is a machine for those who truly appreciate the art of the car.
Now, true artists of car crafting, and one of my favorite brands of all time, is BMW.
BMW creates high quality cars that generally get high customer satisfaction ratings. Their M division, in particular, makes cars that are just Magnificent. Although, I don’t think that’s what M stands for.
From coupes to hatchbacks to convertibles to sedans, they’ve got all the bases covered, and customers seem to really enjoy owning them.
Clearly not as much as our next brand, however.
The world’s most popular car brand, Toyota, got this title by continuing to manufacture vehicles that last a lifetime. Overall, Toyotas have inspired very high customer satisfaction, mostly because they never break down. And if they do, replacing their parts costs pocket change.
But, reliability aside, it’s often overlooked that Toyota builds some pretty powerful vehicles as well. Take the Mark V Supra, for instance. The 2021 version spits out a solid 339 horsepower, and with Toyota reliability, you’ll be ripping down the road until the end of time.
Next up, is a brand with some of the best tech… VTEC!
It’s difficult to drive for more than 5 minutes without running into a Civic. Honda is a major reason why Japanese cars are regarded as having superior reliability. But that’s not all they bring to the table.
The Civic Type R, for instance, will really make you rethink what a front-wheel street car is capable of. This thing handles beautifully and is a ton of fun to drive. Plus, it’s a Honda, so you know you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it, and it’ll run forever.
Our next brand is a favorite among rich housewives and young business people alike, and with good reason!
Now, here’s a luxury car brand that actually delivers on its promise. Audis are known for being an absolute pleasure to drive, and for having beautiful interiors that would probably be comfortable to sleep in if you fall on hard times.
Probably the greatest testament to Audi’s dedication to luxury is the A8L, a perfectly luxurious sedan with a lightweight body, premium quality interior design, and a range of top-of-the-line gadgets.
Audi’s also got some serious luxury built into its subsidiary brands. You know, like Lamborghini? But what Audi is to the suit-wearer, Subaru is to the crunchier type.
The Subaru brand has always commanded a ton of respect from the USA market. These cars are safe, reliable, and deliver pretty solid performance. Plus, it’s an independent brand, not owned by any automotive giant, and consumers who don’t like supporting massive multinational companies seem to take a liking to Subaru.
Perhaps the best car that bears the Subaru name is the Forester, a compact crossover SUV that validates Subaru’s outdoorsy reputation with its impressive off-roading abilities.
Now, let’s think small.
Boy, this is a long article, eh? In honor of the most miniscule brand on our list, let’s just keep this short… or Mini. They’re pretty good!
Alright, let’s Zoom Zoom onto the next brand, shall we?
Mazda wins both performance and quality awards from JD Power. And with cars like the new Miata RF, it’s not surprise. Everytime I see a new Miata on the street, I’m basically stunned and can’t look away. They’re insanely gorgeous, and keep an eye out for the 100th anniversary Miata coming soon!
Now, I know we went at Ford earlier, but they have a certain subidiary brand that’s actually super respectable.
Contrary to its parent company Ford, which we’ve already established is a producer of trash-on-wheels, Lincoln actually makes some top-notch luxury vehicles. They rank near the very top in almost every category: performance, dependability, aesthetics, and comfort.
Lincoln checks all the boxes, and that’s why they’ve earned such a good spot on our list.
Okay, grandpa, let’s talk about your favorite car now.
Yeah, Buick. Their customers are ecstatic. They consistently rank at the top of customer satisfaction. But, I refuse to give them the top spot because, as a brand, they’re only making SUV’s and crossovers now, which essentially means they’re dead to me.
Another brand near the top has safety stitched into every model.
Most people know that Volvo is synonymous with safety, which is why so many Volvo drivers are more than satisfied with their cars. Of course, the Swedish carmaker has had its rough spots in the past, but these days, Volvo is defintely on the up-and-up.
Between 2018 and 2019, Volvo had a massive increase in sales of almost 28%, and that’s not unwarranted. As of late, Volvo’s been making great and, of course, safe cars.
Not the least of which is the S60, which is reliable, cheap to maintain, super safe, and a ton of fun to drive.
Alright for the top 2 spots here, it’s Brad vs. Squidd. Japan vs. Germany. Reliability vs. Performance. Sport vs. Luxury.
These top 2 spots are almost a tie. Statistically, they’re near dead even. So, let’s talk Porsche.
With an over 80% customer satisfaction rating, they’re killing it. It’s no fluke, Porsche makes fantastic cars. They just revealed the 992 GT3 with over 500 horsepower pumping out of a flat-six, bouncing off a 9000 RPM redline, combined with a six-speed manual. I know what Brad’s getting for Christmas.
So, hats off to Porsche, they definitely deserve a top spot here on my list. But the only brand good enough to be in my garage? Well, that’s going to be Lexus.
The Best: #1: Lexus
This brand has risen to become the most trusted brand on the American market with good reason. They never break down, they deliver on their dedication to luxury, they’re a blast to drive, and their exteriors are stylish and classy.
With modern models like the IS 300 regularly beating out its German rivals in a variety of metrics, today’s Lexus is a beast to be reckoned with.
But what puts Lexus at the top here to me, and why I think Lexus is the best brand for Ideal and our fans, is that even old models are still top tier in performance, appeal, and value. Don’t believe me? Watch my video on how the GX470 is the best deal ever. Or buy yourself an LS 400 with 300, 000 miles and see how long it lasts. Hint: it’ll outlast you.
Hands down, if you follow Ideal, you should buy a Lexus, new or old.