2015 Vehicle Dependability Results
Research firm J.D. Power and Associates has been producing its annual U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study for the past 26 years. The 2015 study examines problems experienced in the last 12 months by original owners of 2012 model-year vehicles, with overall dependability determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100). A lower score indicates higher dependability. As cars become more technologically advanced, the issues experienced by new-car owners have evolved as well. Problems most reported in the last 12 months concerned Bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition. Not surprisingly, 2012 was the year many manufacturers made these high-tech features standard equipment in their vehicles. Let’s look at the brands and models that J.D. Power considers most dependable.
Highest-Ranked Nameplate — Lexus
For the fourth consecutive year, Lexus tops all other car brands with a score of 89 PP100. Buick moves up three spots from 2014 to rank second with 110 PP100, beating the next highest scorers: Toyota, Honda, Cadillac and Porsche. Other notable improvements come from Scion (up 13 positions), Ram (up 11 positions) and Mitsubishi (up 10 positions). General Motors and Toyota each have seven category winners. At the bottom of the brand rankings is Fiat with 273 PP100, and Land Rover, Jeep, MINI and Dodge round out the bottom five.
Small Car — Scion xD
Runners up: Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit
The xD is the entry point of the Scion lineup, offering a fun-to-drive small hatchback that claims a reasonable 33 mpg on the highway. Bluetooth connectivity and HD Radio became standard features in 2012.
Compact Car — Toyota Corolla
Runners up: Nissan Leaf, Honda Civic
One of the most popular small cars in America, the 2012 Corolla had an impressive list of safety features. In keeping with the high-tech issues found by owners of 2012 models, Toyota provided Audio with Bluetooth as standard equipment on the Corolla for the first time in 2012.
Compact Premium Car — Lexus ES
Runners up: Lincoln MKZ, Lexus CT
The 2012 model was the final edition of the previous-generation ES. Until it was redesigned for the following year, the ES was primarily a very nice Toyota Camry (the current generation has better differentiation from its Toyota counterpart). That said, the ES did offer a number of luxury amenities, making it a perfect entry point to the Lexus lineup.
Compact Sporty Car — Scion tC
Runners up: Volkswagen Eos, MINI Cooper
Before the introduction of the Scion FR-S, the tC was the sportiest of the Scion models. Designed to appeal to a younger audience, the 2012 tC featured a standard high-powered 300-watt Pioneer audio system as well as Bluetooth connectivity.
Midsize Car — Chevrolet Malibu
Runners up: Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry
One of GM’s best-selling cars, the Malibu was at the end of its product cycle in 2012 — it was updated for the 2013 model year. With two engines available, the 2012 Malibu has a rating of 33 mpg on the highway — impressive for a midsize sedan.
Midsize Sporty Car – Chevrolet Camaro
Runner up: Ford Mustang
Chevrolet offered a number of special-edition Camaros in 2012. A special 45th Anniversary package for Camaro and Camaro SS models featured hood/deck stripes, badging and 20-inch wheels. The high-performance ZL1 was also added for 2012.
Midsize Premium Car – Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Runners up: Lincoln MKS, Infiniti M
The E-Class is one of only two European models to top a vehicle category, and both are from Mercedes-Benz. The 2012 E-Class had a more fuel-efficient 7-speed automatic transmission, and was also available as the E63 AMG with a 518-horsepower twin-turbo V8.
Large Car — Buick LaCrosse
Runners up: Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus
This year Buick moves up to second place in overall dependability; however, this is the only category in which the brand earned a top spot. The LaCrosse was first offered with “eAssist” in 2012, which improved fuel economy by 25 percent. Buick IntelliLink was also added in 2012, using Bluetooth to connect the driver’s smartphone to a new high-resolution, full-color touchscreen.
Small SUV — Kia Sportage
Runners up: Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Patriot
Although the Kia brand was slightly below average in dependability ranking this time around, the Sportage beat all other small SUVs. In 2012 Kia introduced its new UVO infotainment system on the Sportage, making it possible for drivers and passengers to answer and place phone calls, access music from a variety of media sources and create custom music experiences — all with voice activation.
Compact SUV — GMC Terrain
Runners up: Toyota FJ Cruiser, Toyota RAV4
One of seven vehicles from General Motors to rank highest in their category, the Terrain brings the bold GMC styling to the compact SUV market. The 2012 Terrain was available with GMC IntelliLink, which allowed smartphone integration with the audio system via Bluetooth for hands-free control via voice activation and steering-wheel-mounted controls.
Compact Premium SUV — Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
Runners up: Acura RDX, BMW X3
The first compact SUV to be offered by Mercedes, the 2012 GLK was designed to be a modern interpretation of the larger and tougher G-Class. Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine teamed with a seven-speed automatic transmission and available 4MATIC full-time four-wheel-drive, the GLK came well equipped with such items as 19-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, roof rails, privacy glass and chrome detail touches inside and out.
Compact MPV — Scion xB
Runners up: Mazda Mazda5, Toyota Prius V
The xB is the third Scion to top a category in this dependability study — impressive given that Scion had only four models in 2012. The xB was one of the first compact models in the U.S. to feature a boxy design, and in 2012 Bluetooth hands-free calling and HD Radio were made standard on all xBs.
Midsize SUV — Nissan Murano
Runners up: Buick Enclave, Toyota Highlander
The only top-ranked Nissan in this list, the Murano was easy to spot in 2012 with its unique styling. For the 2012 model year, Nissan added a new Platinum Edition with new 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a navigation system and exclusive Sapphire Black exterior color.
Midsize Premium SUV — Lexus GX
Runners up: Lexus RX, Cadillac SRX
The Lexus GX is one of seven models from Toyota (Lexus is a division of Toyota) to be ranked highest in a category. Based on the Toyota 4Runner, the GX offers the luxury expected of a Lexus combined with impressive off-road capability.
Midsize Pickup — Honda Ridgeline
Runners up: Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma
Surprisingly, the Ridgeline is the only Honda named in this list of most dependable vehicles. Unusual in the pickup truck world because of its unit-body architecture (as opposed to traditional body-on-frame truck design), the Ridgeline offers a lockable trunk located below the pickup bed.
Minivan — Toyota Sienna
Runner up: Honda Odyssey
The Sienna was completely redesigned in 2011, bringing the third generation of Toyota’s minivan to market. Still the only minivan with available all-wheel drive, the 2012 Sienna offered features such as a conversation mirror, seating for up to eight passengers, a fold-flat third row seat and an available rear-seat Dual View Entertainment Center that uses two displays side-by-side to create either a seamless 16.4-inch widescreen image from a single source or two individual screens, each with input from separate sources.
Large SUV — GMC Yukon
Runners up: Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban
There aren’t many vehicles on the road that can compete with the GMC Yukon (or its twin, the Chevrolet Tahoe). With seating for up to nine occupants, plenty of cargo capacity, the ability to tow more than 8,000 pounds and nine inches of ground clearance for off-road adventures, the Yukon is an impressive SUV.
Large Light-Duty Pickup — GMC Sierra 1500
Runners up: Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ram 1500
Trucks remain the most popular type of vehicle in America, and the Sierra offers a vast variety of configurations to meet just about any truck-buyer’s needs. The Sierra is available with three different cab styles, three cargo-box lengths and five trim levels. For those interested in something a bit nicer, the Sierra Denali features a luxurious interior and unique exterior styling to stand out from the crowd.
Large Heavy-Duty Pickup — Chevrolet Silverado HD
Runners up: GMC Sierra HD
The Silverado HD (heavy duty) is the ultimate work truck with some impressive capabilities. When properly equipped, the big pickup can tow up to 23,000 pounds or carry a payload of more than 7,000 pounds. With the powerful, efficient 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine, the Silverado HD can travel almost 700 miles between fill-ups.