Most dependable cars, brands at 3 years of ownership – Power study

Good news if you’re in the market for a car – vehicle dependability is at an all-time high, says J.D. Power. More good news is that its latest study identifies the best brands and models to help your selection.

The market research firm’s 2020 Vehicle Dependability Study looks at problems experienced in the last 12 months by original owners of 3-year-old vehicles. Useful information, especially, for anyone considering a 2017 model-year vehicle. But for those who aren’t, the findings still serve as a valuable barometer of which automakers are producing the most reliable rides, and what they are.

Genesis, the luxury badge of Hyundai Motors, tops the brand ranking, followed by another premium name in Lexus. Fourteen automakers beat the industry average, recorded at 134 problems per 100 vehicles, and while luxury automakers fare well, most are mainstream brands. They’re led by Buick, third overall.


Genesis G80
The 2017 Genesis G80 is the most dependable midsize premium car in J.D. Power’s study. Credit: Genesis/Newspress USA


“Despite the increased adoption of complex vehicle technology, dependability continues to improve,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. “There’s no question that 3-year-old vehicles today are better built and more dependable than same-age vehicles were in previous years.”

There’s a word of caution, too, however. The rise of such sophisticated technology could mean problem levels plateau or even increase in the next few years.

Among vehicle segments, Toyota and General Motors gathered most wins with six and five models each. Overall, sedans prove more reliable than SUVs, although utilities are catching up.

Here are the results for both brand and vehicle type.


Vehicle dependability brand ranking

With problems per 100 vehicles

1. Genesis, 89
2. Lexus, 100
3. Buick, 103
4. Porsche, 104
5. Toyota, 113
6. Volkswagen, 116
7. Lincoln, 119
= 8. BMW, 123
= 8. Chevrolet, 123
10. Ford, 126
11. Mazda, 130
12. Cadillac, 131
= 13. Hyundai, 132
= 13. Kia, 132
Industry average: 134


Most dependable cars

Small car – Honda Fit
Small premium car – BMW 2 Series
Compact car – Nissan LEAF
Compact sporty car – Mazda MX-5 Miata
Compact premium car – Lexus ES
Midsize car – Buick Regal
Midsize sporty car – Ford Mustang
Midsize premium car – Genesis G80
Large car – Toyota Avalon


Most dependable SUVs, vans and trucks

Small SUV – Buick Encore
Small premium SUV – Mercedes-Benz GLA
Compact SUV – Chevrolet Equinox
Compact premium SUV – Porsche Macan
Midsize SUV – Toyota 4Runner
Midsize premium SUV – Lexus GX
Large SUV – Chevrolet Tahoe
Minivan – Toyota Sienna
Midsize truck – Nissan Frontier
Large light-duty truck – Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra
Large heavy-duty truck – Chevrolet Silverado HD


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