If you’ve ever had a car that ran right most of the time, but just made you pull your hair out with frustrating little issues—Bluetooth won’t pair, the navigation takes you to the wrong place, a check-engine light that keeps coming on—you know how much stress it can add to your life. So why not skip right over that whole mess with your next used car with the help of some data from industry giant J.D. Power?
J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from original owners of 2013 model-year vehicles about their cars’ dependability over the last 12 months—the entirety of 2015, basically. So if you’re in the market for a lightly used car from the 2013 model year, the data collected from those 33,560 owners about their cars can help push you toward the specific models and brands that are most likely to deliver a hassle-free experience.
Thankfully, the J.D. Power data doesn’t just look at expensive luxury cars, or mainstream cars, but the entire industry. So no matte what you’re looking for, chances are the top-performing used cars, vans, and trucks in one of these segments will suit your needs perfectly.
The best large car, per the study, is the Buick LaCrosse, followed closely by the Nissan Maxima and the Toyota Avalon. Mid-sized cars are divided up into groups: premium, sport, and standard. The most dependable mid-sized premium car is the Lexus GS, followed by the Mercedes-Benz E Class. The Chevrolet Camaro takes the mid-size sporty category, and the Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata, and Toyota Camry are the top three standard mid-sized cars.
In the Compact car arena, we again have standard, sporty, and premium. The top-ranked compact premium is the Lexus ES, followed by BMW’s 1-Series, the Acura ILX, and Audi A4 (the latter two in a tie for third place). Compact sporty cars include the top-ranked MINI Cooper hatchback, Coupe, and Roadster, followed by the Volkswagen GTI. The Buick Verano won the standard compact car segment, followed by the Toyota Corolla and Toyota Prius.
Below the compacts are the small cars and city cars. Here, Honda’s Fit wins the small car category, followed by the Nissan Versa and Hyundai Accent, while the Fiat 500 tops the city car slot.
Next we have the pickups, starting with the heavy duties, where the Chevrolet Silverado HD is the winner. Light duty pickups to buy are the Toyota Tundra, GMC Sierra, and Chevy Silverado. Moving to SUVs, the best large SUVs are both from General Motors: the GMC Yukon (first place) and Chevrolet Tahoe (second). If you’re after a mid-sized, premium SUV, the Lexus GX takes the top rank in that category, followed by the Lexus RX and Porsche Cayenne. The standard mid-sized SUV group is topped by the Nissan Murano, followed by the Toyota Venza and Nissan 4Runner.
Families in search of a new minivan will be best served by the Toyota Sienna, according to the J.D. Power study, followed closely by the Chrysler Town & Country. Younger buyers or empty nesters in search of smaller compact SUVs and crossovers will want to look for the Mercedes-Benz GLK, BMW X3, or BMW X1 in the premium segment, or the Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota FJ Cruiser, and Honda CR-V in the standard segment. Looking for something even smaller? Check out the top-ranked Buick Encore, followed by the MINI Countryman and Volkswagen Tiguan. Not quite sure what you need? Perhaps a small MPV like the winning Toyota Prius v, or the Kia Soul.
If none of the models on this list of the top-ranked vehicles suits your fancy, you could do worst than buying from one of the top-ranked brands on the list, regardless of model. The top 10 brands in the 2016 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study are:
Honorable mention also goes out to 11-16 on the list, in order: Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti, BMW, Cadillac, and Volvo, all of which were above the industry average for vehicle dependability.
automotive freelance journalist