The Most Reliable Crossovers of the Past Five Years

 Get used to it: Crossovers are here to stay.

2021 Toyota C-HR
Toyota

As cars replaced horses, station wagons replaced cars, and then SUVs replaced station wagons, so crossovers have replaced SUVs as the dominant force in transportation. Yes, pedants will say that a crossover is just a smaller SUV, but they’re really not. The crossover is based on a car platform. 

Their popularity means that more manufacturers are ditching their car offerings for pure crossover and SUV lineups. For the time being, however, crossovers are still car based and represent a hotter than hot market share. As such, everyone’s looking for a good deal on a vehicle that’ll stand the test of time, something that just isn’t guaranteed with today’s throw-away-get-a-new-one manufacturers. 

2021 Kia Soul
Kia

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To better help a cash-strapped public that’s seen new and used car prices soar — the average new-car price is more than $40,000 — The Drive’s crack team of informational experts put together this list of the most reliable crossovers on sale today. We sifted through reams of research, scrolled through countless forums and government websites, and relied on our own knowledge of the subject to deliver our expert opinions.

We’ve done so in the hopes that we can provide some peace of mind on one of the most expensive purchases you’ll ever make in your life. Let’s get after it. 

What Makes a Reliable Brand?

Reliability depends on a host of variables, but the two biggest structural supports are the development and manufacturing of a vehicle. When auto manufacturers spend the time and money developing a car and its manufacturing line, a car tends to last longer. Hastily designed, poorly manufactured, and cheaply constructed materials will all reduce a car’s longevity and reliability.

There’s also a work ethic variable that cannot be ignored. Honda’s and Toyota’s cultures of “reliability over all” embody that ethic and have kept each automaker’s legendary reliability in the minds of consumers for decades. Add longer than normal warranties and good customer service, and it’s easy to see why these Japanese companies have enjoyed their strong standings for so long.

Yet, once a car leaves the dealership lot, outside factors impact a car’s durability.

What Impacts a Car’s Reliability?

The short answer is you. The longer answer is a car’s reliability and longevity are inextricably tied to how you take care of your vehicle, your maintenance schedule (if you have one), your conservative or brash driving habits, and whether or not you live in climates where extreme weather could affect the car’s construction.

Maintenance like regular oil changes, fluid flushes, tire rotation, and fuel-system cleaners along with keeping the exterior and underside of your car clean will all increase the life expectancy of your car. Keeping it out of the harsh desert or tropical sun and away from the rust-inducing salted roadways of winter will also extend its life.

And lastly, keeping the Mario Andretti driving antics to a minimum will keep your brakes, engine, tires, and chassis happy and less stressed far longer compared to hitting every trip to the grocery store like it’s the Indy 500. 

Reliable Crossovers From the Past Five Years

Here is The Drive’s list of reliable crossovers from the past five years.

2021 Kia Soul
Kia

Soulfull. I'll see myself out.

Kia Soul

Kia’s engineering, along with its research and development and manufacturing, has come a long way since its inception. The new Soul is a perfect example of that fact

NHTSA History

As collected by the NHTSA, these are the Kia Soul’s issues throughout the years.

2021 

Recall: Improperly heat-treated piston oil rings.

Complaints: 9

2020 

Recall: Improperly heat-treated piston oil rings.

Complaints: 115

2019 

Recall: 0

Complaints: 20

2018

Recall: 0

Complaints: 60

2017

Recall: 0

Complaints: 87

2021 Kia Soul
Kia

The Soul in *action.             *slow but purposeful action

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

To get a better sense of what experts and consumers think about Souls, we also tapped JD Power’s consumer reliability score to better illustrate the crossover’s reliability.

2021: 85/100

2020: 85/100

2019: 84/100

2018: 83/100

2017: 83/100

Common Problems and Repair Costs 

As with any car, not all Soul models are built to the same standards as the reliable vehicles mentioned above. Here’s a quick rundown of problematic Soul offerings, including the issues, customer complaints, and repair costs that will help you make the best decision when purchasing your next car.

General Electronic Issues

Customer Complaint: Car Complaints’ list of grievances mostly revolves around general electrical issues, though none rise to the level of Common complaints, as there aren’t many specific complaints about one single item within the last five years. 

Repair Costs: NA

2021 Toyota C-HR
Toyota

A pint-sized crossover offering. 

Toyota C-HR

As with Toyota’s other offerings, the company’s history of quality and reliability follows the diminutive C-HR. The question is whether its cartoonish styling is right for your tastes.

NHTSA History

2021 

Recall: 0

Complaints: 3

2020 

Recall: Rear seat-belt assemblies may not lock as intended.

Complaints: 3

2019 

Recall: Rear seat-belt assemblies may not lock as intended, impermanent text on load-capacity label, insufficiently tightened rear-axle bearing bolts.

Complaints: 10

2018

Recall: Inoperative electronic parking brake.

Complaints: 40

2017

Recall: NA

Complaints: NA

2021 Toyota C-HR.
Toyota

White on blue.

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

To get a better sense of what experts and consumers think about C-HR, we also tapped JD Power’s consumer reliability score to better illustrate the crossover’s reliability.

2021: 85/100

2020: 85/100

2019: 81/100

2018: 80/100

2017: NA/100

Common Problems and Repair Costs 

According to Car Complaints, an aggregate complaint site for owners of specific cars, there have been six complaints on the Toyota C-HR in the past five years. None of them have to do with the car’s manufacturing itself.

2022 Buick Encore
Buick

Encore! Encore!

Buick Encore

Buick is making some great cars right now. Most are being sold to China, but some are still coming stateside. They’re put together well, the designs are elegant and tasteful, and Buick’s reliability hasn’t been an issue in decades. You should check the company out. 

NHTSA History

2021 

Recall: 0

Complaints: 0

2020 

Recall: Missing bolts on start/stop accumulator, front-seat rear-attachment bolts may be missing.

Complaints: 2

2019 

Recall: Missing bolts on start/stop accumulator, airbags may not deploy due to incorrect setting.

Complaints: 20

2018

Recall: 0

Complaints: 21

2017

Recall: Frontal airbags may not deploy.

Complaints: 32

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

2022 Buick Encore
Buick

Sick, skyline.

To get a better sense of what experts and consumers think about Encore, we also tapped JD Power’s consumer reliability score to better illustrate the crossover’s reliability.

2021: 85/100

2020: 85/100

2019: 84/100

2018: 83/100

2017: 86/100

Common Problems and Repair Costs 

According to Car Complaints, few complaints have been lodged against the Encore in the past five years. None of them rise to the level of common problems, however. 

2021 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
Mitsubishi

Out in the land sporting it up.

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Mitsubishi is one of those companies perennially on the verge of sudden and inevitable collapse, much to the confusion of scientists and writers everywhere. But there’s a good reason the company is still around, as the cars are put together by people who care. The Outlander Sport is an underrated value option.

NHTSA History

2021 

Recall: 0

Complaints: 0

2020 

Recall: 0

Complaints: 5

2019 

Recall: Inoperative right-rear seat-belt buckle, incorrectly assembled rear seat-belt assembly, incorrect rim size on label.

Complaints: 18

2018

Recall: Prolonged braking by collision-avoidance system, safety systems may be disabled when in use.

Complaints: 7

2017

Recall: Inoperative right-rear seat-belt buckle, prolonged braking by collision avoidance system, safety systems may be disabled when in use, engine may stall or overheat.

Complaints: 52

2021 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
Mitsubishi

Sporty.

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

To get a better sense of what experts and consumers think about the Outlander Sport, we also tapped JD Power’s consumer reliability score to better illustrate the crossover’s reliability.

2021: 85/100

2020: 85/100

2019: 81/100

2018: 84/100

2017: 81/100

Common Problems and Repair Costs 

According to Car Complaints, there have only been two complaints received about the Outlander Sport in the past five years. None of them rise to the level of common problems. 

2021 Nissan Rogue Sport
Nissan

That's a good-looking Rogue Sport. 

Nissan Rogue Sport

Despite Nissan’s current penchant for international espionage and daring midnight escapes, the Rogue Sport is a lovely offering that’s more in line with an owner’s quiet existence. If the Rogue Sport is too big for you, the smaller Nissan Kicks is a solid option as well.

NHTSA History

2021 

Recall: 0

Complaints: 0

2020 

Recall: 0

Complaints: 9

2019 

Recall: No backup camera display image.

Complaints: 28

2018

Recall: No backup camera display image

Complaints: 25

2017

Recall: 0

Complaints: 10

2021 Nissan Rogue Sport
Nissan

Industrial.

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

To get a better sense of what experts and consumers think about the Rogue Sport, we also tapped JD Power’s consumer reliability score to better illustrate the crossover’s reliability.

2021: 84/100

2020: 84/100

2019: 83/100

2018: 82/100

2017: NA/100

Common Problems and Repair Costs 

According to Car Complaints, two major complaints have been received about the Rogue Sport in the past five years, including AEB and brake malfunctions. 

Automatic Emergency Braking Malfunction

Complaint: “On Friday, May 3, I was driving east on U.S. Highway 41 (Miami) at 7 p.m. When stopping at the traffic light in front of Turnpike North exit (close to 117 Avenue), my brake system malfunctioned. The tires produced a metallic sound, and the pedal slid to the end. I had to use the emergency brake to stop. I then was left standing in a fast and wet road with poor lighting at rush hour, a sure accident waiting to happen. I called roadside-assistance service, which took two hours to show up. (Two companies were called to assist.) Before that, a car driving at a high speed crashed into my car because the driver missed my hazard-warning flashers. When the dealer reviewed my car, they said that it was a function of the Autonomous Emergency Braking, a ‘safety feature’ that I understand has malfunctioned in other new Nissan Rogue vehicles.”

Cost of Repair: NA

Brake Malfunction

Complaint: “When driving home from work from time to time, I often noticed a slight thumping noise in the rear of my car every time that I came to a stop. At first I thought it was my spare tire moving around in my car trunk. On January 1, 2019, my accident occurred. I was going over a ramp between 25 and 30 mph. A car jumped out in front of me out of nowhere. When I stepped on my brakes, my front seat unlocked on me and slid forward. My brakes locked up on me as well, along with the steering wheel. Leaving me to crash my new car into the rear of another car. My car was totaled, and I am lucky to be alive. The airbag in my car went off a few seconds after the crash. If it wasn't for me raising my arm up in front of my face, my head would have slammed into the windshield. The 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport is looks nice, but it is not safe at all.”

Cost of Repair: NA

What You Need to Look for When Buying a Reliable Crossover

As with any transaction, there are a few key points that every customer should know and ask for before slapping your John Hancock on the dotted line. These helpful tips prevent you from purchasing a car that forces you to ask yourself, “What have I done? What in God’s name have I done? How much is it to replace a hybrid system?” (Sob screaming included.)

Never fear, The Drive’s editors put together exactly what you’ll want to look for whenever you purchase a new or used crossover. Ready? 

Check Service Records

A car’s service records are its history. They should have everything from fluid flushes to significant repairs. This is the car’s life on paper and is really seen as how the last owner took care of it. When your car comes with a stack of papers shoved neatly into its service book, you’re likely not getting a lemon. But if all you have is one receipt from McDonald’s, we’d look elsewhere.

Obtain a Carfax

A Carfax report is a great tool. This sheet of paper can tell you whether that car has undergone any major operations prompted by big-time accidents and little fender benders or if it was recovered from the Atlantic Ocean after the ship that was carrying it capsized off the coast of Georgia

Look for Rust

Whether you’re buying from a cold-weather locale or the car has crisscrossed the country throughout its life, you’re going to want to get down on your back and start looking for oxidation, otherwise known as rust. Do a thorough inspection, because if you miss a patch of rust in the wheel well, you’ll likely have a front-row seat to your car slowly disappearing as if Thanos snapped it out of existence.

Look for Extreme Wear

Look, there are drivers out there, definitely not us, who think they’re Dominic Torreto. They drive their cars hard and put them away wet, which is not great for a car’s overall health. You’ll want to check the car’s tires, work your way through its transmission, hit small speed bumps to check its suspension, and ask for an inspection by a trusted mechanic. 

Video

Here’s a compilation video of a handful of the above being crashed tested. 

FAQs About Crossovers

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: What is a crossover? 

A: Glad you asked. We at The Drive are sticklers about naming conventions, so we put together a complete explainer guiding you through the difference between a crossover and an SUV

Q: What’s the safest crossover?

A: The IIHS awarded its 2021 top safety picks to the Ford Bronco Sport, Mazda CX-30, Subaru Forester, Volvo XC40, and Nissan Rogue Sport.

Q: How much should I pay for a used crossover?

A: You’ll want to take into account a host of factors such as miles, wear and tear, make and model, year, and service history. Kelly Blue Book has a great pricing tool that’ll help you narrow down how much you should be paying for a used crossover.