If you’re planning on choosing a roadgoing car based on racetrack results, maybe you’d better think again. With the world’s greatest off-road race, the Dakar Rally, currently powering its way through Chile, it’s interesting to note that the leaders of the event (BMW and Volkswagen) are among the least reliable 4x4 vehicles on the road, where it really counts. Newly released and highly credible information from the U.K. has revealed the most and least reliable pre-owned 4x4 and SUV cars on the market (see the top 10 lists here). Honda’s CR-V won the crown of the most reliable 4x4 by a fair margin while Audi’s A6 Allroad is the most unreliable 4x4 on the road, with Volkswagen’s Touareg and BMW’s X5 placing second and third most unreliable. That’s right folks, despite performing spectacularly in race events such as the Dakar, the VW Touareg is the second most unreliable 4x4 on the market, according to Warranty Direct.

Warranty Direct’s study used its unique Reliability Index, which takes into account how often vehicles break down, average repair cost and time spent in the garage to calculate its overall reliability. The lower the Reliability Index number, the more reliable the car.

Audi’s A6 Allroad fared worst, with more than half recording a fault in a typical year. A third of those problems reported were suspension-related.

At the other end of the scale, Honda’s CR-V was revealed as the off-roader least likely to let you down, followed by the Suzuki Grand Vitara and Toyota’s RAV4. Mitsubishi and Kia make it a clean sweep for Far Eastern manufacturers in the top five.

The Volkswagen Touareg, despite winning the 2009 running of the famously tough Dakar at the hands of South African Giniel de Villiers, didn’t transfer its success to Warranty Direct’s study, with a quarter of faults down to electrical gremlins.

The highest-placed European car is the newer incarnation of perennial 4x4 favourite, Land Rover’s Freelander, which has traditionally fared badly in Warranty Direct’s studies.

Warranty Direct’s Duncan McClure Fisher said: “It’s promising to see improvement from Land Rover’s flagship model, but it’s telling that the bottom 10 is dominated by European cars, and the top of the list populated largely by Japanese vehicles, which still hold sway overall. The biggest surprise must surely be the poor performance of the XC90. It’s not what you’d expect from a manufacturer with Volvo’s reputation, but I’m signing cheques every day on XC90 repairs.”

With an average repair cost of GBP 595.58, the Mitsubishi Shogun (00-07) is the most expensive to fix but thankfully has a low incidence rate, with just under 8% per year suffering a glitch.

Meanwhile, a third of Nissan’s X-Trail problems are down to cooling and heating issues while almost 60% of enforced garage visits for Volvo XC-70 owners are due to suspension breakages.