This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.

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Cars are becoming more dependable overall, and one car brand leads the pack in terms of reliability.

J.D. Power says Lexus is the most dependable brand overall, and the most reliable among luxury car brands in its 2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. Meanwhile, Kia earns the top ranking among mass-market brands.

Kia is followed by Toyota, which is a sister brand of Lexus. Both are owned by Toyota Motor Corp.

In compiling its rankings, J.D. Power looked at the number of problems per 100 vehicles that original owners of 3-year-old vehicles experienced over 12 months. The lower the score, the higher the dependability.

The study looked at 177 specific problems grouped into eight major vehicle categories:

  • Audio/communication/entertainment/navigation
  • Engine/transmission
  • Exterior
  • Interior
  • Features/controls/displays
  • Driving experience
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning
  • Seats

Based on the data in these categories, the 10 most dependable brands and their scores are:

  • Lexus — 81
  • Porsche — 86
  • Kia — 97
  • Toyota — 98
  • Buick — 100
  • Cadillac — 100
  • Hyundai — 101
  • Genesis — 102
  • Lincoln — 106
  • Acura — 108
  • BMW — 108

The average score among all vehicles was 121.

Overall, vehicle dependability reached a record high in the 32-year history of the survey. Owner-cited problems dropped 10% from a year ago. J.D. Power noted that the rate of improvement was sharply higher than in the previous two years.

Korean and Japanese brands are especially dependable, with three Korean brands — Kia, Hyundai and Genesis — excelling.

However, the news wasn’t all good. In an announcement, Dave Sargent, J.D. Power vice president of global automotive, says:

“Most owners aren’t experiencing their vehicles breaking down or falling apart but, for many, vehicle technology continues to function poorly or inconsistently. If an owner can’t rely on a system to work as they expect, it is also considered a lack of dependability.”

In addition, trucks and SUVs tend to lag cars in terms of dependability — a significant finding, given that trucks and SUVs make up about 80% of retail sales each month, J.D. Power says.

The average dependability score among trucks is 130, and that of SUVs is 122, compared with an average of 111 for cars.

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