Some of the most closely watched ratings in the industry come out of J.D. Power and associates, which conducts several influential surveys of vehicle owners. Probably the best-known is the Initial Quality Survey, which measures owner satisfaction in the first 90 days of ownership. But a more telling measurement of longer-term quality and owner satisfaction is the company's Vehicle Dependability Study, which measures owner satisfaction of three-year-old vehicles. The overall winning brand in the 2014 study by a substantial margin was Lexus, with only 68 problems out of 100 vehicles reported.

Next closest was Mercedes-Benz with 104 problems per 100 vehicles, followed by Cadillac with 107 PP100, Acura with 109 PP100, and Buick with 112 PP100. The Toyota brand itself was in a three-way tie for sixth place with 114 PP100 with Honda and Lincoln.

Among truck and SUV categories, the strongest performers by company were Honda and General Motors, with Honda taking five out of the 10 categories, and GM taking four. The GMC Sierra took both the light-duty and heavy-duty truck. Honda dominated in the CUV category, with the discontinued Honda Element winning the Sub-Compact CUV category, the Honda CR-V winning the Compact CUV category, the Acura RDX winning the Compact Premium CUV, and the Honda Crosstour winning the Midsize CUV category. Lexus won in the Midsize Premium CUV category with the Lexus RX.

J.D. Power 2014 Vehicle Dependability Survey (2011 Model Year Vehicles)

CategoryWinner
Sub-Compact CUVHonda Element
Compact CUVHonda CR-V
Compact Premium CUVAcura RDX
Midsize PickupHonda Ridgeline
Large CUVGMC Yukon
Large Premium CUVCadillac Escalade
Large Pickup (Light Duty)GMC Sierra 1500
Large Pickup (Heavy Duty)GMC Sierra HD

Source: J.D. Power