8 Most Dependable American Cars

Car Culture / 32 Comments

Domestic, durable, and dependable.

When average Joe and Jenny think of the most reliable cars, they tend to think Toyota or Honda, or maybe Mercedes or Volkswagen. American cars don't immediately spring to mind. American trucks do, perhaps, but less so sedans and crossovers. However, America has made - and does make - some remarkably dependable cars. Under the banner of "cars" here, we are going to include crossovers and SUVs, but we'll leave trucks for another day. To figure this out, we're cross-referencing a variety of reliability indexes and looking at use cases that have demonstrated how dependable a vehicle can be. Of course, there's no guarantee any vehicle will run trouble-free for 200,000+ miles, but we're convinced that these American cars all have a great shot. Bear in mind that some of the cars listed below are only available as second-hand buys, as a couple of them are no longer in production.

Ford

1. Ford Crown Victoria

If you're specifically looking for a used car, you're in luck because the benchmark for American reliability is Ford's Crown Victoria sedan. It entered the market in 1991 and was retired from retail sales in 2008, but the factory continued producing them until 2012. Most famously, the Crown Victoria was, and in some cases still is, used commonly as a police patrol vehicle. Its body-on-frame construction and standard V8 engine with rear-wheel drive made the Crown Victoria a sturdy and dependable vehicle that could withstand a lot of abuse. Similarly, the Crown Victoria was also pressed into service as a taxi vehicle. However, our favorite tale of its reliability is from a publisher that stopped flying around the country following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Instead, he drove his Crown Vic all over the US as it was easier than dealing with airports and to the tune 465,015 miles. He wrote a book called The Car I Couldn't Wear Out and still used the original spark plugs, although he did have to replace a wheel bearing.

1998-2008 Ford Crown Victoria Ford
1998-2008 Ford Crown Victoria Ford
1998-2008 Ford Crown Victoria Ford
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2. Buick Envision

If you're looking for something new, durable, and American, then you need to look at Buick, who often comes up in reports as America's most reliable brand. That's an eye-raising claim, but Buick has trimmed down its lineup drastically and is able to focus more on quality control - except for the Enclave, it seems. We recently featured the Envision on our list of underrated cars you can buy new in 2022, and its durability ratings were absolutely an ingredient on that recommendation.

2021-2022 Buick Envision Front Angle View CarBuzz
2021-2022 Buick Envision Lateral View CarBuzz
2021-2022 Buick Envision Rear Angle View CarBuzz
2021-2022 Buick Envision Dashboard Buick

3. Ford Fusion

The Ford Fusion went out of production in 2020 as Ford had worked out the midsize sedan segment wasn't profitable enough anymore. At its peak, the Fusion was one of Ford's best-selling models and proved itself remarkably reliable. Rumor has it a Ford Fusion Active wagon will make it to the US but, if so, expect something lifted and all-wheel drive - along the lines of the Subaru Outback. If you don't mind losing a little trunk space in order to get better mileage, the Fusion Hybrid also has solid dependability ratings. That means picking one up with a few miles on it would be a good bet now.

2013-2016 Ford Fusion Sedan Front Side in Motion Ford
2019-2020 Ford Fusion Sedan Top View Ford
2013-2016 Ford Fusion Sedan Rear Three-Quarter Left Side View Ford
2019-2020 Ford Fusion Sedan Interior Overview Ford

4. Dodge Charger

Some model years are better than others when it comes to the Dodge Charger, but from 2018 until now, it's all good in the reliability ratings, at least according to J.D. Power's consumer-verified ratings. The 2020-2022 models were all rated 89 out of 100 for quality and reliability, and the 2018-2019 models aren't far behind at 81/100. We've seen plenty of reports of the four-door sports sedan hitting 300,000 miles, and as it's over a decade into the current generation, Dodge has had plenty of time to iron out the earlier problems. Those earlier problems mainly affected the 2006 through 2014 model years, starting with engine failure as a common issue in 2006 and front suspension issues through later years. Frankly, we just wouldn't consider a pre-2018 model, although there are happy customers out there.

2021-2022 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Front Angle View CarBuzz
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2021-2022 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Engine CarBuzz

5. Chevrolet Impala

According to a study, of the millions of Impalas sold from the 1980s to 2018, around 1.7 percent had gone over 200,000 miles. That doesn't sound like a lot but, compared with just about every other sedan, that's an amazing metric. It shouldn't surprise us that the Impala was reliable right up until it was discontinued in 2020 as it was an important part of GM's fleet lineup. It wasn't only used as rental cars or company cars by sales reps traveling the country but also by state and federal employees, including police departments.

2008-2013 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Front Angle View Chevrolet
2014-2020 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Side View Chevrolet
2014-2020 Chevrolet Impala Sedan Rear View Driving Chevrolet

6. Lincoln Continental

While the Continental doesn't quite dominate reliability rankings, it's more consistently highly ranked than most on this list. As it's a luxury car, the Continental is all but guaranteed to need a refresh of suspension parts later on in its life. However, on a luxury car, that should be filed under routine maintenance as you don't tend to get a plush ride without the use of softer bushings and, on air suspension models, the main components are made of rubber.

2017-2020 Lincoln Continental Front Angle View Lincoln
2017-2020 Lincoln Continental Side View Lincoln
2017-2020 Lincoln Continental Rear Angle View Lincoln
2017-2020 Lincoln Continental Dashboard Lincoln

7. Chevrolet Malibu

You'll have noticed by now that dependable cars don't tend to be exciting cars. The Chevrolet Malibu doesn't get the same sparkling reviews as its contemporaries, but still exists as a comfortable appliance car. With the Impala gone, Chevrolet currently only has two fleet passenger cars - the Spark and the Malibu. According to Chevrolet, the Malibu is sold in "nearly 100 countries on six continents," which probably explains why it hasn't been axed in the US, where crossovers are now king. However, new or used, the Malibu makes a compelling choice for dependability and low running costs if you want to buy American.

2016-2018 Chevrolet Malibu Front View Driving Chevrolet
2016-2018 Chevrolet Malibu Rear Angle View Chevrolet
2016-2018 Chevrolet Malibu Front Angle View Chevrolet
2016-2018 Chevrolet Malibu Side View Chevrolet

8. Jeep Cherokee XJ

Modern Jeeps aren't particularly noted for their long-term dependability, but it's fair to point out they are designed to get banged around off-road, and that's what many people do with them. However, if you're willing to go used and ignore modern safety equipment, the classic Cherokee XJ that was in production from 1983 through to 2001 is almost legendary for its dependability. It was also the precursor to the modern SUV and crossover with its unibody chassis and the first Jeep model to be offered with two-wheel drive. As well as a sturdy yet lightweight frame, the Cherokee XJ also comes from a time when Jeep's six-cylinder engines were close to being bulletproof. It was popular for fleet use due to its utility, dependability, and cheaper running costs than heavier 4x4 models.

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1998-2008 Ford Crown Victoria
1998-2008 Ford Crown Victoria
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