[quote]Is there a make of car today that you can really buy new and expect at least ten reliable years from?
OP, the short answer is "it depends." Fun, huh? A few years ago I would've said "buy a Toyota or Honda," but as you noted Toyota's had some reliability dings lately (for good reason - even *they've* admitted they stepped off the ball quality-wise), and even Honda's starting to fuck up; they just redesigned the 2013 Civic a mere *year* after introducing an entirely redesigned model. Yes, the 2012 was THAT bad; most of the car critics said they liked its predecessor better!
I'll say the following as a car geek:
**Do NOT buy ANY luxury make -- *including* Lexus and Infiniti -- if you're seeking reliability on a long-term scale. Yes, Lexuses are by far the most reliable luxury cars, but that does NOT mean they can be accurately compared to Toyotas in terms of reliability, particularly the newer ones. In their constant race to keep up with BMW and Benz, Lexus keeps introducing more and more seemingly wacko electronic options, whether it be cars that can parallel-park themselves or drive themselves via sonar-based cruise control. Most of these technologies are entirely untested in terms of long-term reliability, simply because they haven't been *around* for the long term. Oh, and listen to R58: BMWs, Benzes and Audis are quite reliable, but the maintenance costs on all of them are a TOTAL bitch, and don't make the mistake of assuming you'll somehow be able to find a cheap AND reliable mechanic who's a true expert on German cars. Absolutely do NOT buy any high-performance car, even a BMW, unless you don't mind tire and brake pad expenses that are out the wazoo.
**There have been many posts on this thread about driving in snow, but most Americans today don't live in snowy climates (or places that get snow more than once or twice a year at most). Furthermore, I'd have to agree with the poster upthread who said you can get by without AWD even in snowy climates as long as you have good snow tires and preferably traction control.
**If I *personally* was buying a new car today for your intended purpose ... I'd probably get a Honda CR-V. Contrary to what some idiot said upthread, they are most definitely *not* "chick cars," and they're both reliable and relatively commodious if you need to haul stuff. I prefer German sports sedans, personally, and my last several cars have been BMWs, but under NO circumstances would I recommend buying a new one and keeping it for any period after the initial warranty runs out; as I already noted, maintenance costs are a *bitch* and, worse, the major services just happen to be needed right after the 50K-mile warranty runs out. (I paid over $2,000 for a 60K-mile BMW service once, and that was from a comparatively *cheap* mechanic.)
**Finally, I know you might have a temptation to get a hybrid, if only for the gas savings, but keep in mind that only Toyota and Honda have been building them for a good amount of time, and even they aren't infallible; my brother once got a nasty surprise when his "high mileage" Civic Hybrid turned out to get about 30mpg in hot and humid weather due to the A/C being on constantly. These days there are plenty of non-hybrid cars that get over 40 mpg on the highway, ones you don't have to worry about in terms of unpleasant surprises.