Brand-new vehicles right off the dealer lot are generally trouble-free for the first few months, and although many manufacturers and brands like to make a big deal about their J.D. Power Initial Quality scores, a better gauge of a vehicle's longer-term reliability and durability is the company's Vehicle Dependability Survey, which surveys owners of cars after three years of ownership, in this case being 2010 models.
Significant developments in the 2013 Vehicle Dependability Survey study were it being the first year where the study showed brand-new models had fewer reported problems than carryover models, statistically busting the myth that brand-new models have more "bugs" than proven or carryover models.
This year's also marked the first time an SUV model topped the survey for being the most trouble-free model. This year's winner was the Lexus RX, which reported only 57 problems per 100 vehicles. Lexus also topped the overall Vehicle Dependability Survey with 71 problems per 100 vehicles. Toyota-brand vehicles tied with Lincoln for third place with 112 problems per 100 vehicles.
Among the pickup and SUV vehicle segments however, no single brand or company was dominant, with Toyota, Honda and General Motors each taking two spots, and Ford taking one. The Toyota RAV4 took first place among compact SUVs, the Honda Crosstour took first for midsize SUVs, the Chevrolet Tahoe took first place for full-size SUVs, the Acura RDX took first in the entry premium SUV segment, the Lexus RX took first in the midsize premium SUV segment, the GMC Sierra HD took first in the large pickup category, and the now-discontinued Ford Ranger took first place in the midsize truck category.
Among pickup and SUV-specific brands, Ram ranked highest with 122 problems per 100 vehicles, GMC came in next with 134 problems per 100 vehicles, Jeep ranked third with 178 problems per 100 vehicles, and Land Rover fourth, as well as dead-last overall among vehicle brands with 220 problems per 100 vehicles.
Source: J.D. Power and Associates