Most Dependable Cars
Research firm J.D. Power has been producing an annual U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study for more than 30 years — a study that automakers take seriously and consumers recognize and value. The 2022 study to determine the most dependable cars examines problems experienced in the last 12 months by original owners of 2019 model-year vehicles, with overall dependability determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles — also known as PP100. A lower score indicates higher dependability.
Initial Quality = Dependability
Interestingly, brands that perform well in the annual J.D. Power Initial Quality Study — which ranks cars based on problems after purchase — also do well at maintaining dependability. According to the firm, seven of the 10 highest-ranked brands in the 2019 IQS are among the 10 top brands for dependability.
“Many owners are holding on to their vehicles longer, so long-term dependability is even more critical,” said David Amodeo, director of global automotive at J.D. Power. “Some automakers are performing much better than others at preventing problems from occurring. These problems include the vehicle’s mechanicals, exterior and interior — but also infotainment systems, driver assistance systems and all the other electronic systems in today’s vehicles,” noted Amodeo.
Infotainment is Problematic
Of the nine major vehicle categories covered in the study, infotainment continues to be a problem spot. With an average of 51.9 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), infotainment issues are twice as common as the next highest category.
Most Dependable Vehicle Overall — Porsche 911
For the second consecutive year, the iconic Porsche 911 earns the rank of most dependable vehicle overall. This top rating marks the third time in the last four years that the 911 has been named the most dependable car — a trait not typically associated with high-performance sports cars.
Highest-Ranked Nameplate — Kia
With 145 PP100, Kia ranks as the most dependable brand in America. The Korean automaker came in third last year, and this is the first time Kia resides at the top. Buick, Hyundai, Toyota and Dodge round out the top five mass market brands in the study. Genesis takes honors as the most dependable premium brand with 155 PP100, followed by Lexus, Porsche, Cadillac and Lincoln. What follows are individual vehicle segment winners.
Compact Car — Toyota Corolla
Toyota added the sporty Corolla Hatchback to the lineup in 2019. The first Corolla built on the Toyota New Global Architecture, the hatchback is larger, lower and wider than the 2018 model with revised sport-tuned suspension, a new engine, two new transmission options and new safety technology. Standard equipment is plentiful, including automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa compatibility and an 8-inch touchscreen display. The 2019 Corolla Hatchback is the first Toyota in North America to feature Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which has a long list of advanced safety and driver-assistance features.
Compact Sporty Car — Mazda MX-5 Miata
True to its original premise, the Miata is an impressively lightweight, nimble and fun 2-seat roadster. For 2019 Mazda began offering the MX-5 30th Anniversary Edition, finished in Racing Orange with forged aluminum wheels, Recaro seats, Bilstein dampers, a Bose audio system, orange brake calipers, orange interior accents and a numbered 30th-anniversary badge. Other updates for 2019 included a revised SKYACTIV- G 2.0-liter engine producing 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque — an increase of 26 horsepower. The 2019 MX-5 was also available with a new GT-S package featuring a limited-slip differential, Bilstein dampers and a shock tower brace. In addition to the manual soft-top MX-5, the MX-5 RF (retractable fastback) has a power-folding hardtop that can open or close in 13 seconds.
Compact Premium Car — BMW 4 Series
BMW updated the 4 Series for the 2018 model year, featuring standard bi-LED headlights with optional adaptive full-LED headlights, LED fog lights, LED taillights, a new lower front air intake, a new rear apron and new wheel designs. The 430i is powered by the TwinPower Turbo 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 248 horsepower, while the 440i gets a 320-horsepower TwinPower Turbo 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder unit. Both have a standard 8-speed sport automatic transmission, and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive as optional equipment.
Midsize Car — Hyundai Sonata
Hyundai’s midsize sedan was redesigned for the 2018 model year with bold styling front and rear, as well as a new rear suspension design and revised steering calibration for improved ride, handling and response. The 2019 Sonata has advanced safety features such as automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and smart cruise control with start/stop functionality. The standard powerplant is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine producing a respectable 185 horsepower. Also available for the 2019 model: a potent turbocharged engine or a fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain. Sonata also is available as a plug-in hybrid that can travel up to 27 miles on electric power alone.
Midsize Sporty Car — Ford Mustang
The legendary Mustang received a refresh for 2018 sporting a new, sleeker design as well as added technology and features. That pony car features a restyled grille and hood with new vents designed to give it a more aggressive look. For 2019 the California Special returned as a limited-edition package for Mustang GT, with design cues that echo the original 1968 California. Ford sold the 2019 Mustang with two engine choices: a 2.3-liter 310-horsepower EcoBoost or a 5.0-liter V8 that puts out an impressive 460 horsepower. The 2019 Mustang also features with the latest safety technology of the day, including pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, distance alert, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist.
Midsize Premium Car — Lincoln MKZ
Redesigned for the 2017 model year, the MKZ received a new front-end treatment with a grille similar to the new Lincoln Continental, flanked by adaptive LED headlights. One of the best-selling Lincolns at the time, the MKZ was the entry point into the lineup of Ford’s longstanding luxury brand. Available with the latest in advanced safety equipment, the 2017 MKZ was offered with a choice of powertrains including an available with 400-horsepower twin-turbo V6 engine as well as an advanced hybrid system.
Large Car — Chevrolet Impala
One of the few full-size sedans still available in 2019, Impala rolled off the assembly line with the latest high-tech features including active noise cancellation, 4G LTE wireless connectivity, adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, a rearview camera and Apple CarPlay. Power comes from either a standard 196-horsepower 2.5-liter engine with start/stop technology, or a 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 as standard equipment on the top-level Premier trim. The Impala was discontinued early in the 2020 model year.
Small SUV — Buick Encore
The top-selling model in the Buick lineup, Encore is also the smallest Buick vehicle. With a starting price below $25,000, the 2019 Encore stood as a great entry into the premium crossover segment and came well equipped with features such as a power driver’s seat, a 7-inch color display with backup camera and built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi connection. The 2019 Encore was available in four trims ranging from the base level to the well-equipped top-of-the-line Essence, all powered by a fuel-efficient 1.4-liter turbocharged engine.
Small Premium SUV — Lexus UX
Lexus joined the growing compact luxury crossover market with the all-new 2019 UX. The UX is the first Lexus vehicle to use the brand’s Global Architecture — Compact platform, providing the new crossover with a rigid structure and low center of gravity designed to deliver both agile handling and improved ride comfort. The exterior styling is similar to the larger NX and RX models but more aggressive, with a large spindle grille that dominates the front view. The 2019 UX was offered with a choice of two powertrains: a 169-horsepower 2.0-liter engine sending power to the front wheels, or a fourth-generation hybrid drive system with total system output of 181 horsepower. The hybrid uses the Lexus E-Four all-wheel drive system that adds an additional electric motor at the rear axle.
Compact SUV — Buick Envision
The Buick division of General Motors has experienced great sales success in China, and in 2016 Buick introduced a new SUV built in that country. The Envision crossover slots between the small Encore and midsize Enclave crossovers. The 5-passenger 2019 Envision features styling that fits seamlessly in the Buick lineup and employs a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine producing 252 horsepower and has Buick’s first Active Twin Clutch all-wheel-drive system. Occupants of Envision enjoy 8-way power front seats, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, tri-zone climate control and available OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.
Compact Premium SUV — Lexus NX
Lexus joined the burgeoning compact luxury SUV segment when it introduced the NX for the 2015 model year. In 2018 the NX was updated with fresh styling including a revised grille, larger fog light openings and additional chrome accents. Suspension tuning was also improved for better ride and handling. Naming was also changed — the NX 300 replaced the NX 200t; however, the engine remains the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine producing 235 horsepower. Lexus also offers the NX as the fuel-efficient NX 300h hybrid.
Midsize SUV — Hyundai Santa Fe
Hyundai introduced an all-new Santa Fe for the 2019 model year with updated styling and a range of new features. The Santa Fe replaced the Santa Fe Sport as the Korean brand’s 5-passenger offering, while a new Santa Fe XL offered three rows of seating. This fourth-generation Hyundai SUV comes with the latest high-tech safety features as standard equipment, including automatic emergency braking and blind-spot collision warning, as well as lane-keeping and rear cross-traffic alert. Also standard is safe exit assist, which locks the rear doors to prevent rear-seat occupants from opening them into traffic when vehicles are approaching from behind.
Midsize Premium SUV — Lexus RX
One of the first luxury crossovers when it debuted as a 1998 model, the RX combines the utility of an SUV with the ride and comfort of a luxury sedan. The RX is also the most popular model in the Lexus lineup. In 2018 Lexus upped the utility of the RX by adding the RX L trim, which is slightly larger and offers seating for up to seven with a new third row. The RX is available as the RX 350 or the RX 450h — the latter featuring a powerful and fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain.
Upper Midsize SUV — Kia Sorento
The Kia Sorento was refreshed for 2019 with subtle design changes, a revised interior and new technology. That updated Sorento features a front-end design with a more detailed grille, a new bumper design and new headlights with full LED lighting for SX and SXL trims. At the rear, the Sorento has a new bumper, a new exhaust tip and new taillight design with LEDs for EX trim and higher. Inside, the Sorento updates include a revised instrument cluster, a new steering wheel and shift knob, revised air vents and center stack design. A third-row seat is now standard on all trim levels. New technology includes driver assistance systems, Harman Kardon audio with Quantum Logic and wireless charging.
Upper Premium SUV — Porsche Cayenne
One of the first high-performance SUVs when it came to market in 2003, the Cayenne promised to deliver the performance and handling expected from a Porsche with the utility of an SUV. After more than 15 years, Porsche is still producing the all-wheel-drive Cayenne — which was all new for the 2019 model year. Designed more for pavement than mud, the Cayenne is available in a range of sporting variants including the 541-horsepower Cayenne Turbo as well as the powerful and efficient Cayenne E-Hybrid.
Minivan — Dodge Grand Caravan
The original minivan, the 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan offered more style, versatility and technological innovation than any other time in its 30-year history. The lineup was simplified down to four trim levels: SE, SE Plus, SXT and GT. The standard engine for all trims of the 2019 model is a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 producing 283 horsepower, combined with a 6-speed automatic transmission to deliver EPA fuel economy ratings of 17 mpg city / 25 mpg highway / 20 mpg combined.
Large SUV — Chevrolet Suburban
There aren’t many vehicles on the road that compete with the Chevrolet Suburban. With seating for up to nine occupants, plenty of cargo capacity, the capability to tow more than 8,500 pounds, and 9 inches of ground clearance for off-road adventures, the Suburban is one of the most capable SUVs on the road. Available with 2WD or 4WD, Suburban can also be equipped with a suite of safety features as well as 4G LTE connectivity with a Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless phone charging, power-folding second- and third-row seats, an 8-inch color touchscreen and multiple USB ports. In 2018 Chevrolet added the RST edition which was available with a Borla performance exhaust as well as six-piston front brakes.
Midsize Pickup — Nissan Frontier
The Frontier is Nissan’s entry in the midsize pickup truck market and it hadn’t really changed much in the last 10 years. Available as a King Cab or Crew Cab, the 2019 Frontier could be had with rear- or 4-wheel drive as well as with long or short truck beds. Two engines were available: a 2.5-liter 152-horsepower 4-cylinder unit or a 4.0-liter V6 producing a more respectable 261 horsepower. Frontier could be equipped with a variety of features including a heavy-duty suspension, available off-road-tuned Bilstein high-pressure performance gas shock absorbers, skidplates (PRO-4X grade), and an innovative Utili-track Channel System for easy cargo securing.
Large Light-Duty Pickup — Toyota Tundra
Although the Tundra doesn’t come close in sales to the American-brand pickup offerings, this full-size truck still brings plenty to the pickup party. There are almost 50 different configurations of Toyota’s full-size pickup truck with multiple cabs, bed lengths, powertrains and trim levels. With trims ranging from the basic SR to the luxurious Platinum, the Tundra offers impressive capability and Toyota’s reputation for reliability in a very tough truck market. In 2018 Toyota announced the addition of a TRD Sport version of the Tundra, which features sport-tuned Bilstein shocks and TRD front and rear anti-sway bars, as well as a mesh grille, LED headlights, LED fog lights and a color-keyed hood scoop.
Large Heavy-Duty Pickup — Chevrolet Silverado HD
When consumers climb into the heavy-duty truck market, their choices narrow considerably. The 2019 Silverado HD combines impressive capability with a comfortable cabin and driving ease. The latter was further improved with Chevrolet’s New Digital Steering Assist power steering — designed to make hauling and trailering more manageable via electronic controls that enhance road holding and stability on the highway. The 2019 Silverado HD can tow as much as 23,300 pounds when properly equipped.
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