What makes a vehicle reliable?
A reliable vehicle is one you can trust – you don’t want to spend money on an unsafe car that’s going to fall apart. Reliability is an important decider as to whether a car is worth spending money on.
Reliable cars shouldn't need more maintenance than the usual wear and tear that comes with age and shouldn't be breaking down regularly with extra faults.
Euro NCAP safety ratings are a good indicator of reliability. A full five-star rating is ideal and means you can trust your reliable BMW to keep you safe while out on the roads.
A reliable car will also have a reasonable amount of fuel efficiency for what the model sets out to do. Of course, if you buy a performance-based BMW with a massive engine, you can expect this to use more fuel than smaller, more casual cars.
With a BMW, you’ll get a three-year, unlimited mileage manufacturer warranty that will cover you against the costs of repairs and replacement parts.
How reliable are BMW models?
BMW 1 Series
The BMW 1 Series scores well for reliability on consumer surveys, usually getting an above-average rating when compared to similar models.
It’s considered a safe car too, with a full five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. You’ll get safety tech like traffic sign recognition, lane-departure warning and speed limit assist.
The 1 Series is also relatively inexpensive to run and is the cheapest BMW you can currently buy.
You can expect up to 61.4mpg from the 116d model, while the 118i offers up to 49.6mpg.
BMW 2 Series
The BMW 2 Series is renowned for its reliability, sitting high on reliability surveys with positive reviews from those who drive the car.
In 2022, the 2 Series Coupé was awarded four stars by Euro NCAP for safety. This does put it slightly behind its sibling models, such as the 1 Series, but it’s still a great score.
Running costs are reasonable, too – expect up to 49.6mpg from the 218d model, while still enjoying a feisty drive with plenty of power.
BMW 3 Series
The BMW 3 Series is ranked well for reliability, stealing top spots on reliability surveys and securing positive reviews from brand loyalists.
You’ll always find some variation in reliability scoring, but for the most part, the 3 Series does well.
The 3 Series also receives a full five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, with tech like lane-keep assist, reversing camera and blind spot warning on offer.
The 320d model with mild-hybrid tech offers 58.9mpg, while the 318i models can offer up to 44.1mpg. Despite the large engines, they don’t guzzle as much fuel as you might expect.
BMW 5 Series
The BMW 5 Series is considered a reliable model, but reviews from motorists do differ. Some reliability surveys claim the 5 Series is a seriously dependable model, while some place it around average.
This model also receives a full five-star Euro NCAP rating, with 91% for adults and 85% for children. This is thanks to impressive safety tech like an autonomous emergency braking system and lane-departure warning.
The 520d model also offers up to 58.9mpg, making it an affordable car to fill up and run. This is especially true if you opt for the plug-in hybrid model – the 530e can offer as much as 176.6mpg.
BMW 6 Series
Impressively, the BMW 6 Series scores highly for reliability. Surveys and driver reviews are positive and name this as a model you can rely on, as it steals the high spots on scoring tables.
The 6 Series GT was awarded a five-star Euro NCAP rating in 2017, but the 6 Series is a less-common model that isn’t sold in high enough quantities to get its own test so far.
The 640d model offers up to 52.3mpg, with 143g/km for emissions. That’s an impressive score when you consider the size and weight of the luxurious 6 Series.
BMW 7 Series
The BMW 7 Series does well for reliability, scoring at an average level on consumer reliability tests and receiving positive reviews from those that drive the cars.
The 7 Series hasn’t received an NCAP rating but does come with a range of impressive safety tech.
There’s a flashy Driving Assistant Professional package on offer that provides optional remote-controlled parking and forward collision warning.
The most efficient model is the 745e – a hybrid option that offers up to 141.2mpg.
BMW 8 Series
The BMW 8 Series is a high performer for reliability, sitting in the higher places on consumer reliability tests and surveys.
Since it’s a relatively new model and sits at a premium price point, there isn’t too much history to go on just yet.
The 8 Series hasn’t received an NCAP rating either, but it does come loaded with safety tech and has some positive reviews.
It does run on the pricier side for fuel, but this should be expected from a model of this size and stature. You’re looking at around 44.1mpg from the 840d model.
How reliable is the BMW X Series?
The BMW X1 is reviewed as one of the most reliable BMW SUVs on offer, built on the same platform as the X2 with tried-and-tested engineering.
The X1 scores well on reliability surveys and even secures the top spot on some leaderboards.
You can expect impressive running costs, with the sDrive18d model offering up to 56.5mpg.
Paired with a five-star Euro NCAP rating, this makes it a reliable choice.
A BMW X2 is a great option for a reliable family SUV, with some claiming it's one of the most dependable models in the market segment.
As the X2 shares its Euro NCAP rating with the X1, you can expect the same five stars. It’s worth noting that this rating has now expired, but the safety tech in the car is still good to go.
You’ll get impressive fuel efficiency figures, too. The front-wheel-drive sDrive18d offers 56.8mg, so you won’t be shelling out for running costs.
The BMW X3 is the mid-range option and is the most popular in the lineup. It scores well on reliability surveys, usually sitting in the top 10 among similar models.
There’s a plug-in hybrid option on offer too, with a fully-electric mile range of around 29 miles.
The X3 gets a five-star Euro NCAP rating, with 93% for adult occupants and 84% for children.
The BMW X4 scores well for reliability, securing average spots on consumer reliability surveys and positive reviews.
The X4 also receives a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, sharing the rating with the X3 model. It gets plenty of safety kit plus ISOFIX car seat points that are ideal for travelling with little ones.
The xDrive20d model offers up to 49.6mpg, but that figure will drop to 26.2mpg in the performance-focused X4 M Competition.
The BMW X5 is a slightly bigger option that’s also rated well for reliability. As standard, you’ll get five seats but can be updated to seven in all models except the hybrid.
The X5 is a great option for reliability in a bigger car, scoring well on reliability surveys and offering a five-star Euro NCAP rating.
It does well for efficiency as well, offering up to 54 miles of electric driving from the xDrive45e hybrid model. You can expect around 36.2mpg from the xDrive30d model – not bad for a larger SUV.
The BMW X6 is yet to make it onto many of the big reliability surveys, but the closely-related X5 has proved to be a favourite. Reviews so far say the X6 is a dependable vehicle that’s highly regarded for daily use.
While the X6 is yet to get its own Euro NCAP rating, the X5 is a similar model and scores the full five stars. There’s plenty of safety kit installed, like active emergency braking that can detect other road users.
Diesel is king for efficiency in this range, with the xDrive 30d offering up to 42.8mpg.
The BMW X7 is rated well for reliability and ranks slightly above average on consumer reliability surveys.
It’s yet to get a Euro NCAP rating, but the heaps of safety tech leave no doubts that this is a secure car. Expect kit like lane-keep assist and lane change and departure warning.
As for running costs, the X7 delivers around 36.2mpg in the xDrive40d model. It might not seem that great of a score at first glance, but that’s impressive for a car of this size and weight.
Which BMW model will suit you?
The BMW that will suit you best will differ based on your needs. If you’re after something smaller and a great first step into the world of premium cars, the 1 Series will be ideal.
It’s a reliable model that has all the bells and whistles of a luxury BMW, at a lower price point.
For something larger and with a focus on performance, the 3 Series is a great choice. You can even choose from convertible 3 Series models if you want a really sporty feel, but each one is comfortable and impressive to drive.
To get in on the SUV trend and maximise space and ride height, a BMW X model will be your best bet.
The BMW X1 and X2 models are a great entry-point to the world of SUVs as they’re slightly smaller but are still spacious and comfortable. They’re also rated well for reliability and safety.
If you’re after a larger model, either the BMW X5 or X6 are great choices, while the BMW X7 is the largest SUV on offer. These are ideal if you need to carry more people or possessions and don’t want to scrimp on style and luxury.
If you want to go all out, the BMW Z4 is a sports car that’s flashy but easy to use for everyday life. It’s a model you can rely on, while still being a lot of fun.