In these pages we focus on design, breakthroughs, enabling technologies and concepts and it's rare that we look at product that has been in the marketplace for some time, much less second-hand product. But when we saw what UK company automotive warranty company was up to, we know you'll agree that it's worth a mention. As a privately owned insurance intermediary, the firm collects lots of data about warranty issues – something you'll never find out from the only other people who have access to the information (the manufacturers). In a very clever move, it has taken this secondary data and produced a reliability index – an independent comparison of frequency of failure across the 55,000 vehicles it insures. Read on for a list of the 100 most reliable used cars over the past decade. And before you take a peek, have a guess at where the best Japanese, German, Swedish, British, Korean and French-built cars will rank. You won't even come close!

Firstly, the company is Warranty Direct, and their reliability index can be found here. Secondly, congratulations to the Honda Accord which ranked at number one, and to Honda, Nissan and Toyota who all managed two cars in the top 10. Thirdly, congratulations to the Japanese automotive industry which supplied every car in the Top 10, and an amazing 16 of the Top 20. The highest placed non-Japanese model was the British built Jaguar X-Type in 13th with the mighty German automotive industry first appearing at number 25.

Volvo's S/V40 was the highest placed Swedish manufacturer in 15th, with the nation's most popular manufacturer, Ford, delivering its best ranked model, the Ka, in 22nd. Hyundai's Lantra was the pick of the Koreans and the Citroen Xsara was the best-placed French model at number 26.

And a very special mention to Toyota - Toyota has an ambition to become the world's largest motor company and on the results of this survey, it fully deserves to get there. It scored as well as any other manufacturer in the top ten cars with two contenders, but also took eleventh spot with the Lexus IS 200, fourteenth with the Landcruiser, 19th with the Carina E, and 21st with the Lexus 400 - six cars in the top 21 represents a fantastic effort but a look down the list confirms what we'd always suspected - they have been building the most reliable cars for a long time - long product lines such as the Celica and Corolla are also there. Those cars have been produced for 30 years in vast numbers - it's not just one very reliable model here and there - .

"Obviously reliability is not the main reason why someone might choose one model over another, but it is still an important consideration for the majority," says Duncan McClure Fisher of Warranty Direct. "However, used car buyers are considerably more cautious. Japanese models may not be the most charismatic but you're unlikely to spend a great deal of money and time in the garage keeping it on the road."

Just a note to ensure fairness - cars with extended warranties are unlikely to appear on this list, for obvious reasons. As some manufacturers offer such schemes across the range, they will also be under-represented.

The 10 most reliable cars according to Warranty Direct:

  1. Honda Accord - A classy package, well put together and feels more special than the average family car. Superb engines and value for money.
  2. Subaru Forester - Not quite an off roader, much more than an estate with a sporty edge, making it the perfect combination. Great all round buy.
  3. Mazda MX-5 - Blueprint for the modern roadster with sweet handling and engines to match. Extremely easy to live with.
  4. Mitsubishi Carisma - Despite the name, not that interesting to look at or drive, but that's not the point. Here is a no-nonsense hatchback that won't let you down.
  5. Toyota Yaris - Superminis don't come better. Bags of room and perky engines. Probably the best small car buy.
  6. Honda Civic - Solid build quality and good engines are just part of the appeal, the Civic is one of the most spacious small cars around. Great value.
  7. Nissan Almera - A dull package, but that's no reason to dismiss the Almera which is practical and perfect for the smaller family who need a big boot and utter reliability.
  8. Honda CR-V - Proof that you don't need an XXXL 4x4. Here is a four-wheel drive estate that is flexible, easy to drive and own.
  9. Toyota RAV4 - So few four-wheel drives are fun to drive. This car is suitably sporty, but very practical. Expensive used buy but worth it.
  10. Nissan Micra - The driving school favourite. Tough, fairly roomy, but with its light controls is easy to steer around town.
  11. The Warranty Direct Top 100 Most Reliable Used Cars Of The Past Decade

    1. Honda Accord
    2. Subaru Forester
    3. Mazda MX-5
    4. Mitsubishi Carisma
    5. Toyota Yaris
    6. Honda Civic
    7. Nissan Almera
    8. Honda CR-V
    9. Toyota RAV4
    10. Nissan Micra
    11. Lexus IS 200
    12. Mazda 626
    13. Jaguar X-Type
    14. Toyota Landcruiser
    15. Volvo S/V40
    16. MINI (BMW)
    17. Suzuki Vitara
    18. Mazda 323
    19. Toyota Carina E
    20. Saab 9-5
    21. Lexus LS400
    22. Ford Ka
    23. Rover 45
    24. Hyundai Lantra
    25. Mercedes SLK
    26. Citroen Xsara
    27. Ford Cougar
    28. Subaru Impreza
    29. Skoda Octavia
    30. Audi A4
    31. Nissan Primera
    32. Toyota Avensis
    33. Volvo 850
    34. Vauxhall Corsa
    35. Seat Toledo
    36. Volkswagen Golf
    37. Daewoo Lanos
    38. Fiat Brava
    39. Hyundai Coupe
    40. Mitsubishi Shogun
    41. Rover 25
    42. Mercedes CLK
    43. Fiat Marea
    44. Ford Focus
    45. Peugeot 106
    46. MG MG TF
    47. BMW Z3
    48. Hyundai Accent
    49. Volkswagen Polo
    50. Fiat Punto
    51. Vauxhall Zafira
    52. Mercedes C-class
    53. Volvo S60
    54. Toyota MR2
    55. Mazda Xedos 6
    56. Ford Puma
    57. Vauxhall Astra
    58. Vauxhall Omega
    59. Chrysler Neon
    60. Audi A2
    61. Ford Fiesta
    62. Ford Mondeo
    63. Vauxhall Corsa
    64. Citroen Saxo
    65. BMW 3 Series
    66. Vauxhall Vectra
    67. Isuzu Trooper
    68. Mercedes M-Class
    69. Subaru Legacy
    70. Rover 400
    71. Fiat Ulysse
    72. Mercedes E-Class
    73. Renault Clio
    74. Toyota Celica
    75. Peugeot 306
    76. Peugeot 406
    77. Volvo S70
    78. Rover 75
    79. Daewoo Matiz
    80. Peugeot 206
    81. Mazda MX-3
    82. Vauxhall Tigra
    83. Seat Ibiza
    84. Peugeot 106
    85. Renault Megane
    86. Peugeot 406
    87. Saab 9-3
    88. Audi A3
    89. BMW X5
    90. Mercedes S-class
    91. Toyota Corolla
    92. Seat Alhambra
    93. BMW 5-series
    94. Daewoo Nubira
    95. Alfa Romeo 145
    96. Saab 900
    97. Mazda MX-6
    98. Jaguar S-Type
    99. Daewoo Leganza
    100. Porsche Boxster