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The most dependable cars you can buy

Lexus ranks highest on J.D. Power's dependibility study. But be forewarned: Dependability doesn't always equate to affordability.

By Aug 19, 2014 6:10PM
Couple shopping for car © Don Mason, Blend Images, CorbisBy Christine DiGangi,

Paying for maintenance is inevitable for car owners, but future trips to the auto repair shop aren't often top-of-mind for consumers browsing the dealership lots.


Ideally, shoppers have done research on and have some experience with manufacturers and models to help inform a vehicle-purchase decision, but it's difficult to predict how reliable a car will be.

If avoiding the repair shop is your top concern, buying a Lexus is a good bet, according to the J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. For the 25th year, J.D. Power published rankings of the best vehicle brands, based on the average number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles, as well as a breakdown of most reliable vehicles in 21 body-type categories.

Lexus products had the best ranking because they averaged 68 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100). Mercedes-Benz took second with an average of 104 PP100, and Cadillac was third with 107 PP100. General Motors, Toyota and Honda had the most category winners. The study included survey responses collected October through December 2013 from more than 41,000 original owners of 2011 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership.


Based on those responses, here are the most reliable vehicles in each category:

Compact Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV)
2011 Honda CR-V

Compact Car
2011 Chevrolet Volt

Compact Multi-Purpose Vehicle
2011 Scion xB

Compact Premium CUV
2011 Acura RDX

Compact Premium Car
2011 Lexus ES 350

Compact Sporty Car
2011 MINI Cooper

Large CUV
2011 GMC Yukon

Large Car
2011 Buick Lucerne

Large Heavy Duty Pickup
2011 GMC Sierra 2500HD

Large Light Duty Pickup
2011 GMC Sierra 1500

Large Premium CUV
2011 Cadillac Escalade

Large Premium Car
(tie) 2011 Cadillac DTS, 2011 Lexus LS

Midsize CUV
2011 Honda Crosstour

Midsize Car
2011 Toyota Camry

Midsize Pickup
2011 Honda Ridgeline

Midsize Premium CUV
2011 Lexus RX

Midsize Premium Car
2011 Lexus GS

Midsize Sporty Car
2011 Chevrolet Camaro

2011 Toyota Sienna

Sub-Compact CUV
2011 Honda Element

Sub-Compact Car
2011 Honda Fit

How reliability factors into vehicle cost

Consumers value dependability for a variety of reasons: It minimizes repair expenses over the life of the vehicle, meaning you may be able to hold on to it longer than you would a less-reliable model. By shopping for cars less frequently, you can reduce the number of auto loans you have to take out. On the flip side, if you're the kind of person who likes to change vehicles regularly, cars with good reliability rankings tend to have higher resale value than their less-dependable counterparts, so you could get a significant down payment for your new car when selling your old one.

There are obvious money-saving advantages to having a dependable car, but there's also no way of knowing what may happen to your vehicle in the future, so it's important to focus on all aspects of affordability when choosing your next ride. Consider the basics, like the type of car most useful to you and the fuel economy you prefer, but also consider long-term expenses, like how much of the vehicle's cost you may have to finance and what your loan interest rate may be. Look beyond monthly payments as well, because while you can reduce them by lengthening your loan term, you will also pay more in the long run because of the interest the loan accrues over time.

Auto loan interest rates rely heavily on your credit standing, so it helps to check your credit scores well in advance of visiting a dealership or applying for third-party financing. That way, if you have room for improvement or errors negatively affecting your credit history, you have time to work on your credit. Keep in mind the auto loan will also affect your credit going forward, so it's crucial to know you can afford your monthly payments -- late payments hurt your credit, and if you miss enough bills, your vehicle could get repossessed (a repossession hurts your credit, too).

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Aug 23, 2014 8:32AM
Anyone that purchases anything based on a JD Powers survey is a fool.  They deliberately don't take into consideration many of the factors that a buyer should weigh and use for a decision.  

For example, they rank many of the national builders like Centex, Lennar, Pulte, Toll Brothers and other as some of the best residential home builders, and what they leave out is that they all use the cheapest building materials, and labor they can find to slam a house up in 3 months or less.

Walk on to any one of their job sites and it's filled with illegal immigrants working for pennies, and they pretend to be unaware of the situation.  It is slowly decimating the wage structure of residential construction.  Facts like that are never revealed in their survey results, which should be a top consideration for every person purchasing a home in America.
Aug 23, 2014 5:21AM
Another so called "ranking" paid for by GM. The bad part is there people who will read this and believe it.
Aug 23, 2014 7:46AM
JD Powers just looks at the pretty bells and whistles and has no clue about reliability
Aug 23, 2014 3:52AM
Umm...What region of the country did they find these 41,000 to be inhabiting?  Honda Ridgeline and Crosstour?? I have NEVER SEEN ONE OF EITHER being driven on the roads where I live.  Come on the Ridgeline shouldn't even be classified as truck either. Crosstour, basically a hatchback  Accord. Oh and Chevy Volt best compact with all the other compacts on the road who outsell the Volt by like what 100,000 - 1??  Maybe with all the various Honda/Acura and Toyota/Scion/Lexus cars on this list, they paid for the survey and supplied the mailing lists?  Then a few GM products thrown in. This survey is definitely not an accurate representation, but more like a joke.  Try surveying say 100,000 from various areas of the country. As my screename says, I HAD a 2005 Mustang that was a very early (built October 23, 2004/ purchased November 22, 2004) model that I will be honest and say had a great many problems being an early production model, but my Ford dealer always fixed the problems same day. Oh yeah this is based on 2011 vehicles, of which my family is currently driving a Hyundai Elantra LTD. Best dam car overall I've ever had!! NO PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER. Yes there were dealer service alerts that I didn't even know existed, but they were handled during the routine service schedule visits which never took longer than 2hrs. When has anyone had a car from another company with a navigation system and it sat at the dealership for days if not weeks?  There was a dealer service alert  on my Elantra's navigation system, that as anyone with one knows, is now also the radio/mp3/cd/Bluetooth that they replaced SAME DAY even though I was having no issues and was still out within 2hrs.  To ME anyway that is THE BEST COMPACT CAR.  Next time include me in the survey.
Aug 23, 2014 9:13AM

This is information is only useful if you are in the market for a used car. In todays world the quality of automobiles can be totally different year to year. This article is pretty much worthless.

Aug 23, 2014 11:15AM
Sure, a few kids were killed, but GM saved .22 cents per vehicle on their faulty ignition switches., Sure they knew about it for over 10 years, but just think about the bottom line!. Do you think its easy to turn a profit?  God bless GREED! The Bible says its what Jesus would do! Right??
Aug 23, 2014 9:42AM
Ford & Dodge fall hard to Government Motors. Real results or Fascism , you decided.
Aug 23, 2014 12:21PM
These studies are a joke. Last new car I bought they sent questionnaires out at 1, 3, and 6 months after purchase then never heard from them again. Ya after 6 months a new car should still be dependable.
Aug 23, 2014 9:12AM

The J. D. Powers rating are completely useless......

The only ratings that have any merit are Consumer Reports - they are unbiased and factual!!

Aug 23, 2014 10:51AM

Ask someone that been involved in an accident caused by one of GM's faulty switches how dependable GM cars are.

JD Powers have been bought off.

Aug 23, 2014 11:17AM
I guess three years of ownership is a step up in survey over Power's "initial quality" surveys. The initial quality didn't mean much.
Aug 23, 2014 10:50AM
Very interesting to compare Consumer Reports reliability ratings (based on thousands of subscriber replys to their annual survey) to what JD Powers shows! There are some glaring differences! I agree with cal684!!!
Aug 23, 2014 8:36AM
They do the same in ratings of other things as is all about how the rating is written up and submitted by the applicant. Been there done that.
Aug 23, 2014 11:02AM

Somebody screwed up and mixed the articles on most re-called and most dependable.

Everyone of these GM vehicles have had  massive re-calls, and very spotty dependability is that tranny working in your Sierra???

Aug 23, 2014 2:13PM
you know this list is bogus by the number of GMs,GM has not made a quality vehicle it could stand behind in decades,anybody buying a GM will get burned,i got burned and will never buy a GM product again
Aug 23, 2014 1:28PM
How many Volts are on the road ?It's a feel good warm and fuzzy feeling inside typical liberal......I'm buying it to save the environment... piece of poop.What do you dumb liberals think charges your Volt....COAL FIRED POWER PLANTS.
Aug 23, 2014 10:15PM
JD powers could not rate their way out of a wet paper bag !!
Aug 23, 2014 9:06PM
I think I'll stick with my 1959 Peugeot 403.
Aug 24, 2014 8:19AM
where's my little imposter, I miss you
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