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The 10 ‘Healthiest’ Cars of 2011

Old Reliables?

If you can’t decide between buying a used car and springing for a brand new one, you might want to consult CarMD’s 2011 Vehicle Health Index. The company, which manufactures an automotive diagnostic tool and software for car repair and maintenance, analyzed the data it had on roughly 136 million vehicles to determine which ones cost, both figuratively and literally, their owners the least amount of grief in 2011.

“The list is intended to help people put perception and public opinion aside when [car shopping],” says Art Jacobsen, CarMD’s vice president, adding that this is done by painting a concrete picture of which vehicles break down the least due to check engine-related problems. It also factors in how much these problem cost owners to fix when they do happen.

Using the data, CarMD was able to rank manufacturers in terms of cost and reliability. (You can find more on how they did here.) They were also able to rank specific makes and models. The overall ranking is a composite of two equally weighted scores: the repair incident rating, which was determined by the number of vehicle failures divided by the number of registered vehicles on the road, and the repair cost rating, which reflects the percentage of cost for repairs on that specific vehicle versus the average retail cost for the industry.  The lower the score is the more reliable a car is considered.

Read on to find out which vehicles came out on top once all the calculations were completed.

Photo Credit:   jerebu

10th Most Reliable Vehicle: 2008 Toyota Highlander

Average Repair Cost: $328.57

Repair Incident Rating: 0.117

Repair Cost Rating: 0.141

Overall Score: 0.129

Toyota (minor spoiler alert!) was able to grab the title of the most reliable manufacturer, despite the fact that its average repair costs skewed on the high side. The Highlander’s average cost was actually lower than the $417.37 Toyota cars averaged in general.

But Jacobsen says the high average costs attest to how reliable the cars actually are.

“They break down so infrequently that when they do, it’s something serious,” he explains.

Photo Credit: Toyota

9th Most Reliable Vehicle: 2005 Chevrolet Blazer

Average Repair Cost: $149

Repair Incident Rating: 0.166

Repair Cost Rating: 0.091

Overall Score: 0.128

Photo Credit: GM

8th Most Reliable Vehicle: 2009 Honda Pilot

Average Repair Cost: $12.83

Repair Incident Rating: 0.231

Repair Cost Rating: 0.011

Overall Score: 0.121

Photo Credit: Honda

7th Most Reliable Vehicle: 2009 Toyota Camry

Average Repair Cost: $176.04

Repair Incident Rating: 0.143

Repair Cost Rating: 0.092

Overall Score: 0.117

Photo Credit: Toyota

6th Most Reliable Vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Sonata

Average Repair Cost: $12.33

Repair Incident Rating: 0.22

Repair Cost Rating: 0.01

Overall Score: 0.115

Hyundai, who placed second overall it terms of general reliability, was bolstered to the top by strong performances by its newer Sonatas and Elantras.

“They’re both high-quality vehicles,” Jacobsen says.

Photo Credit: Hyundai

5th Most Reliable Vehicle:  2009 Toyota RAV4

Average Repair Cost: $61.33

Repair Incident Rating: 0.186

Repair Cost Rating: 0.042

Overall Score: 0.114

Photo Credit: Toyota

4th Most Reliable Vehicle: 2009 Honda Accord

Average Repair Cost: $65.13

Repair Incident Rating: 0.174

Repair Cost Rating: 0.041

Overall Score: 0.108

Photo Credit: Honda

3rd Most Reliable Vehicle: 2007 Honda CR-V

Average Repair Cost: $85.75

Repair Incident Rating: 0.148

Repair Cost Rating: 0.046

Overall Score: 0.097

Photo Credit: Honda

2nd Most Reliable Vehicle: 2008 Honda CR-V

Average Repair Cost: $91.25

Repair Incident Rating: 0.142

Repair Cost Rating: 0.047

Overall Score: 0.095

Photo Credit: Honda

The Most Reliable Vehicle: 2009 Toyota Corolla

Average Repair Cost: $45.84

Repair Incident Rating: 0.145

Repair Cost Rating: 0.024

Overall Score: 0.085

The fourth Toyota featured in CarMD’s top 10, Jacobsen says the Corolla’s reliability makes it a good choice for parents looking for a set of wheels for their teen.

“If I’m looking to buy a used car [for my child], I’m looking for a 2009 Toyota Corolla,” he says.

Photo Credit: Toyota

The Most Common Car Repairs

What problems are vehicles in general most likely to experience? Find out in MainStreet’s roundup of the most common car repairs – also based on CarMD data – and learn what you can do to avoid them!

Photo Credit:  Robert Couse Baker

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