The Most Reliable Luxury Cars in the Past Five Years

Pass the Grey Poupon, please and thank you.

2021 Porsche 911 Targa
Porsche

Something we all strive for is attainable luxury, as most of us aren’t born with silver spoons. We scrimp and save, and when the time is right we drop our hard-earned cash on something glittery and opulent. In this case, that shiny thing is a luxury car.

The spending doesn’t end there, though. Despite all that saving, once you own the car you have to maintain it and, sometimes, fix it. That always should be a part of the mathematics you do before you pull the trigger and pull a gleaming new Bugatti into your garage — hello, $20,000 tires. That type of maintenance is out of the question for most, but the allure of a luxury car is still something that tugs at the heartstrings. 

2021 Lexus ES
Lexus

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Enter The Drive’s crack team of auto experts. We’re not just here to deliver our opinions on new rides and offer sage wrenching advice, we’re also here to help you find the most reliable luxury car. We know you’re not made of money like Scrooge McDuck. You want all the comfort of a Rolls-Royce without the headache of yearly maintenance costing tens of thousands of dollars.

To better help you along in your quest for luxuriousness, we’ve put together this guide on the most reliable luxury cars built in the past five years. Ready to start living your best life?

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 thus 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.

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

Reliable Luxury Cars from the Past Five Years

Here’s The Drive’s list of reliable luxury cars from the past five years.

2021 Porsche 911
Porsche

Where we going?

Porsche 911

The venerable Porsche 911 is the go-to luxury sports car, as its history spans decades and holds racing wins like no other luxury sports car has. The combination of speed, comfort, and opulence makes it one of the best luxury offerings available. And apart from one generation of suspect construction, it’s pretty damn reliable. 

NHTSA History

As collected by the NHTSA, these are the Porsche 911’s issues throughout the years.

2021 

Recall: Suspension components not tightened properly.

Complaints: 2

2020 

Recall: Upper control-arm rear-axle screw not tightened, front axle differential bracket may come loose, hazard warning lights may not activate, driveshaft bolts may loosen.

Complaints: 1

2019 

Recall: Upper control-arm rear-axle screw not tightened.

Complaints: 22

2018

Recall: Airbag sensors may be loose.

Complaints: 0

2017

Recall: Airbag ECU may malfunction, passenger frontal airbag may not deploy, improper windshield bonding, fuel leak due to sheared fastening screws, seat-mounted airbags may not deploy.

Complaints: 1

2021 Porsche 911.
Porsche

The 911.

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

To get a better sense of what experts and consumers think about 911s, we also tapped JD Power’s consumer reliability score to better illustrate the sports car’s reliability.

2021: 79/100

2020: 79/100

2019: 88/100

2018: 90/100

2017: 87/100

Common Problems and Repair Costs 

According to Car Complaints, a site that aggregates customer complaints about specific makes and models, there have been zero complaints in the past seven years. 

2021 Lexus ES
Lexus

I'm blue dabudee...

Lexus ES

The Lexus ES is an interesting case study for this list. Why? Because underneath that shiny Lexus exterior is actually a Toyota Avalon. That’s not a knock. The Avalon is labeled as a premium offering between Toyota’s Camry and full-luxury Lexus vehicles, and it’s an underrated choice for four-door comfort. The Lexus, however, does offer more luxury than its Toyota sibling, and you get the same great Toyota reliability everyone’s come to know and expect. 

NHTSA History

2021 

Recall: 0

Complaints: 0

2020 

Recall: Fuel pump may fail.

Complaints: 1

2019 

Recall: Knee airbags may not deploy properly, fuel pump may fail.

Complaints: 18

2018

Recall: Fuel pump may fail.

Complaints: 19

2017

Recall: Loose lock nut may cause tie-rod separation.

Complaints: 1

2021 Lexus ES
Lexus

Soft and supple.

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

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

2021: 79/100

2020: 79/100

2019: 81/100

2018: 82/100

2017: 87/100

Common Problems and Repair Costs 

According to Car Complaints, like the Porsche above, there have been zero complaints in the past five years of the ES. 

2021 Cadillac XT5
Cadillac

Cadillac-ac-ac.

Cadillac XT5

Though Cadillacs of memory were plagued by electrical gremlins, wonky fitment, and subpar luxury, the new Cadillac has aimed to fix its issues. The XT5 is one of the brand’s latest salvos across Germany’s bow. 

NHTSA History

2021 

Recall: 0

Complaints: 1

2020 

Recall: Tire failure may cause sudden air loss, tires may have been overcured, insufficient fuel supply may cause engine stall, roof-rail airbag may not deploy.

Complaints: 4

2019 

Recall: 0

Complaints: 10

2018

Recall: 0

Complaints: 0

2017

Recall: Front brake calipers may leak brake fluid.

Complaints: 65

2021 Cadillac XT5
Cadillac

Time to pound pavement.

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

To get a better sense of what experts and consumers think about the XT5, we also tapped JD Power’s consumer reliability score to better illustrate the luxury SUV’s reliability.

2021: 82/100

2020: 82/100

2019: 80/100

2018: 80/100

2017: 81/100

Common Problems and Repair Costs 

As the Cadillac is somewhat new to the world, there aren’t many issues reported by Car Complaints. The few that stand out are in its first year of production, 2017. Here are those issues.

Transmission Shudder

Customer Complaint: “I own two XT5 Cadillacs. Both shudder upon deceleration. Both front-wheel drive. I enjoy the cars, but it’s sad that Cadillac has not repaired the vehicles.”

Cost of Repair: NA

Phone Pairing Issues

Customer Complaint: “Have been having issues with getting my iPhone connected to the Apple CarPlay. Ninety percent of the time it doesn't connect unless I do some type of magic, however, when they give me loaners at the dealership, I never have this issue with the other Cadillac or General Motors products, only mine. They have been reprogrammed and still have the same issue. Cadillac really is not caring about the safety of their clients.”

Cost of Repair: NA

2021 Genesis G80
Genesis

Now that's a luxury car.

Genesis G80

Though the Genesis G80 is the newest platform on this list, its reliability has already proven vastly better than many other luxury OEMs. Backed by corporate cousins Hyundai and Kia, Genesis has made waves in the segment for both comfort and reasonable pricing. 

NHTSA History

2021 

Recall: High-pressure fuel tube may leak.

Complaints: 0

2020 

Recall: 0

Complaints: 0

2019 

Recall: Antilock brake system module may short circuit.

Complaints: 4

2018

Recall: Antilock brake system module may short circuit, oil may leak onto exhaust manifold, passenger airbag may deploy with a child in seat, front and rear glass incorrectly bonded.

Complaints: 26

2017

Recall: Antilock brake system module may short circuit.

Complaints: 24

2021 Genesis G80
Genesis

Ride in style.

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

To get a better sense of what experts and consumers think about the G80, we also tapped JD Power’s consumer reliability score to better illustrate the luxury sedan’s reliability.

2021: 76/100

2020: 76/100

2019: 79/100

2018: 80/100

2017: 79/100

Common Problems and Repair Costs 

Car Complaints has yet to record a single issue from consumers on the G80.

2020 Lincoln Corsair
Lincoln

Where's McConaughey?

Lincoln Corsair/MKC

Previously known as the MKC, Lincoln’s Corsair has been around since 2013, and like the Lexus it has more pedestrian bones underneath its sleek sheetmetal. Based on the Ford Escape, the Corsair is a compact luxury crossover that offers a lower price of entry to the luxury segment but still maintains the aesthetic, plushness, and capabilities luxury buyers are looking for.

NHTSA History

2021 

Recall: Inadequate lubrication in rear drive unit.

Complaints: 1

2020 

Recall: Distorted or inoperative rearview camera, missing or loose bolts on start/stop accumulator, rear coil springs may fracture.

Complaints: 14

2019 

Recall: 0

Complaints: 5

2018

Recall: Incorrect brake hoses may chafe.

Complaints: 6

2017

Recall: 0

Complaints: 19

2021 Lincoln Corsair.
Lincoln

Alright, alright, alright.

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

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

2021: 81/100

2020: 81/100

2019: 82/100

2018: 82/100

2017: 83/100

Common Problems and Repair Costs 

Car Complaints has yet to record any issues for the renamed Corsair, however, there were a few for the MKC. None of those, however, fall within the range of common problems.

What You Need to Look for When Buying a Reliable Luxury Car

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 luxury car. 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 little sheet of paper can tell you whether that car has undergone any major operations prompted by big-time accidents and tiny 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 the ground 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 short video of the Lexus ES going through the IIHS crash test procedure.

2019 Lexus ES 350 driver-side small overlap IIHS crash test

FAQs About Reliable Luxury Cars

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Which luxury brand is the most reliable?

A: The data suggests that Lexus tops that list, which is understandable given its corporate parent is Toyota. Remember, however, that your car’s reliability will depend on how you treat it, both in terms of driving and maintenance. 

Q: Which is the least reliable?

A: The one you don’t take care of. You have everything to do with your car’s reliability, no matter the make. That said, there have been a host of issues to plague Alfa Romeo since its return to the United States. Also, never, ever do as the author did and buy a used Volkswagen W8 Passat. That was a nightmare.

Q: Are certified pre-owned luxury cars worth the extra money?

A: They can be. A certified pre-owned (CPO) car goes through a multipoint inspection by a trained dealer technician and is certified to be in good working condition. It often comes with a warranty. If an issue occurs, the dealership will normally fix the problem. It is a more expensive route to take than purchasing a normal used car, however. 

Q: Which brand is the most expensive to maintain?

A: Mercedes-Benz has a reputation for being wildly expensive to maintain, especially its performance offerings. However, to harp on the subject, if you treat your car right, perform its regularly scheduled maintenance, and avoid driving it like you stole it, the car is more likely to stay in great condition for the length of your ownership.