The Winners (and Losers) of Dependability

2016 Buick Verano

2016 Buick Verano

Every year J.D. Power and Associates releases a study that names the most dependable three-year-old cars on the market. This year’s results include some surprises but also reinforce some long-held beliefs regarding brands that are known to be exceptionally reliable.

Some of the most common complaints about the cars did not have to do with mechanical failures or poor build quality, but were frustrations with wireless connections, navigation, and voice-recognition software.

Technology has infiltrated our cars at a pace never before seen in the history of the auto industry, but automakers haven’t yet figured out how to seamlessly integrate it into the lives of their customers.

If technology is our biggest complaint, though, I don’t think we really have much to complain about.

Lexus, Porsche, Buick, Toyota, and GMC captured the top five spots in the reliability study, which measures owner complaints per hundred vehicles.

The industry average of problems per 100 vehicles rose from 147 last year to 152 this year. Many of those were related to the controls, entertainment features, and voice-recognition glitches in touchscreens or hands-free smartphone use.

According to the J.D. Power website,

‘The increase in technology-related problems has two sources,’ Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive at J.D. Power, noted. ‘Usability problems that customers reported during their first 90 days of ownership are still bothering them three years later in ever-higher numbers. At the same time, the penetration of these features has increased year over year.’

Dependability does go deeper than technology, of course, and the brands with the highest overall dependability rankings are:

  • Lexus, which earned the top spot for the fifth consecutive year with a score of 95 problems per 100 vehicles.
  • Porsche (97 problems per 100)
  • Buick (106 problems per 100)
  • Toyota (113 problems per 100)
  • GMC (120 problems per 100)

GM cars that received an award include the Buick Encore, Buick LaCrosse, Buick Verano, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, and GMC Yukon.

Toyota vehicles include the Lexus ES, Lexus GS, Lexus GX, Toyota Prius v, Toyota Sienna, and Toyota Tundra.

Jeep, Land Rover, smart, Ford, and Dodge were the bottom five least dependable car brands.

One thing we can learn from studies like this is that buying a car with fewer technological goodies will probably lead to a higher level of satisfaction and long-term dependability.

That’s something to keep in mind as you browse the listings for your next car.

Do you have any complaints about the technology in your car?


Find Certified Pre-Owned Cars and Used Cars in your area at CarGurus.

Used Buick Encore
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Used Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD
Used GMC Yukon
Used Lexus ES 350
Used Lexus GS 350
Used Lexus GX 460
Used Toyota Prius v
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1 Comment

  1. Buick ahead of Toyota; didn’t see that coming. The results must be highly affected by the new tech bits, because I’d be surprised if Buick surpassed Toyota in the powertrain dependability department. Interesting, nonetheless.

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