• Mar 18th 2011 at 6:00AM
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The 2008 Toyota 4Runner was a top pick for dependabilit... The 2008 Toyota 4Runner was a top pick for dependability by J.D. Power and Associates (Toyota).
Surprise: Lincoln, the Ford luxury brand perhaps most associated with cushy rides to the airport, has the most reliable vehicles on the market, according to J.D. Power and Associates. The venerable brand, trying to make a comeback with baby boomers who largely rejected Lincoln cars over the last twenty years, topped Lexus, Jaguar, Porsche and Toyota.

And while the research firm says that domestic brands as a whole still lag import brands for vehicle dependability, consumers should look at each brand and not make too many assumptions. Chrysler, for example, was selling products with low quality scores during the time of the study, though it has improved its lineup a lot for this year.

J.D. Power and Associates issues several quality studies a year, but today's Vehicle Dependability Plan Study (VDPS) is one of the most valuable to consumers. That's because it is based on consumer feedback after three years of ownership, considered a suitable amount of time for real problems to surface.

Overall, J.D. Power says, vehicle dependability has never been higher since it started this particular study in 1990.

For Lincoln, the no. 1 ranking couldn't come at a better time. Ford has sold off all its European luxury brands--Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo--and is putting more money into its Lincoln business, adding new products and giving the division more money for advertising. "This is another great testament to Lincoln," said Scott Tobin, director of Lincoln Product Development. "Long-term durability is the perfect foundation upon which to build the resurgence of the Lincoln brand. We have the dependability that's important to consumers, and now we have great new products like the innovative new Lincoln MKX and the fuel-efficient MKZ Hybrid."

One of the big reasons vehicles overall are more dependable, besides good old fashioned progress and learning, is that companies back in the 1990s began engineering vehicles and parts to last longer. Fuel and water pumps, engines and the like were developed to last well over 100,000 miles. Prior, many parts were specified to last perhaps as little as 80,000 miles. Asian car makers such as Toyota and Honda, led the way, and the annual rankings by J.D. Power made public pressured American companies to follow suit. The more robust the parts and engineering, the longer vehicles and their parts are likely to run without failing.

Most Reliable Vehicles

Sub-Compact Car 2008 Honda Fit
Compact Car 2008 Toyota Prius
Compact Sporty Car 2008 Mazda Miata
Midsize Sporty Car 2008 Ford Mustang
Midsize Car 2008 Ford Fusion
Large Car 2008 Buick Lucerne
Compact Premium Sporty Car 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK
Entry Premium Car 2008 Lincoln MKZ
Midsize Premium Car 2008 Acura RL
Large Premium Car 2008 Cadillac DTS
Compact Multi Purpose Vehicle 2008 Scion xB
Compact Crossover/SUV 2008 Honda CR-V
Entry Premium Crossover/SUV 2008 BMW X3
Midsize Crossover/SUV 2008 Toyota 4Runner
Large Crossover/SUV 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe
Large Pickup 2008 Toyota Tundra
Midsize Pickup 2008 Toyota Tacoma
Midsize Van 2008 Toyota Sienna
Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV 2008 Lexus RX 350
Large Premium Crossover/SUV 2008 Lincoln Navigator

Source: J.D. Power and Associates

The bad news: Vehicles would be even more reliable but for the fancy navigation and entertainment systems automakers are putting in new vehicles; the ones that keep drivers connected to Facebook, traffic advisories and their entire music library.

"Automakers, as a whole, have made significant improvements in reducing traditional problems, particularly with vehicle interiors; engines and transmissions; and steering and braking during the past several years," said David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates. "However, as manufacturers add new features and technologies to satisfy customer demand and new legislation, they face the potential for introducing new problems."

Despite the recall woes of Toyota Motor Corp. in the last year (over ten million vehicles recalled worldwide), the company still ranks very high in dependability and won seven of the categories measured in the study, more than any other automaker. The Toyota 4Runner, Prius, Sienna, Tacoma and Tundra topped their categories. In addition, the Lexus RX, and ScionxB also won their categories.

Ford won four categories with highest dependability scores for the Ford Fusion and Mustang, as well as the Lincoln MKZ and Navigator. General Motors (Buick Lucerne, Cadillac DTS, and Chevrolet Tahoe) and Honda Motor Company (Acura RL, Honda CR-V and Honda Fit) each received three awards.

One thing to keep in mind when researching the winning models: Some of the highly ranked vehicles have been redesigned and updated since 2008. Toyota's Sienna, Prius and 4Runner, for example, have all received makeovers. And those makeovers can cause the new versions of those vehicles' rankings to fall, especially when new technology is added. On the other hand, new vehicle designs can improve rankings by a wide margin. The new Chrysler 300, Jeep Compass and Dodge Charger are significantly better than their older versions reflected in the this study.

Before making conclusions about a new-vehicle purchase, it's best to look this study, as well as J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study (IQS), which measures quality of new cars in the first three months of ownership. Balance those results with other information about new models from sources like AOL Autos Make and Model Guide.

One of the best uses of Power's VDPS, though, is assessing the quality of a late model used car. Vehicles at the top of the rankings are among the most reliable pre-owned vehicles.

J.D. Power, along with Consumer Reports, is one of the most prominent arbiters of quality, and the firm's rankings tend to reverberate over the Internet where most car buyers are shopping.

The study is based on responses from more than 43,700 original owners of 2008 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership. The study was fielded between October and December 2010.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Dave, How much $$$ do the Japenese give you to post a picture of a Toyota when the top quality vehicle is an American Lincoln. Sad that you have sold out! A few years ago there was a huge headline that said: "Toyota makes dramatic improvement in long term quality." The very first line of the article in small print said: "GM wins the long-term quality award for the seventh year in a row." That writer was bought off just like you, our government officials (who are supposed to being doing what is best for America), and every sports advertising spot available. Isn't the real story that Ford is #1! That GM was #1 year after year after year (2000-2006, maybe even longer)? Funny how the pictures and the headlines go to the foreign competitors even though the true quality story is America. Why is the headline "Lincoln and Toyota" top the quality list? If toyota was number one, your headline would have read, "toyota tops the quality list!!!!" Those who buy off our polititians are called lobbyists. What do they call the people who "buy off" our American media and reporters? I have driven American cars and supported America with my large purchase dollars and somehow how I have always had great cars! Just gave away a Chrysler car with 220,000 miles on it, running great! Purchased a Ford with 80,000 miles on it, running great! Have a GM truck with 127,000 miles on it, running great! All great American products!
      • 4 Years Ago
      My family has been driving Toyota vehicles in excess of 30 years.They are mechanically one of the most reliable vehicles ever produced.We have owned their cars,trucks and suv's,all have been spectacular vehicles.I have kept track of several that I've sold or handed down and seen mileage approaching exceeding 400,000 miles on a vehicle.My nephew is currently driving a handed down Toyota P/U 4x4 from my father that is 21 years old with 320,000 miles and continues to reliably run without any major repairs.Change the oil and perform the regular maintenance the will last as long as you want to drive them.It disgusted with with all the negative publicity when Toyata had the recent recall.American manufactures have recalls on their vehicles at an extremely high rate probably so much that the media can't keep up with them. I drive a company owned 2001 F-250 4X4 which has seen probably $ 8000.00 is major mechanical repairs in 10 years.Not just mine we have 7 trucks that have seen blown motors and almost all have had major transmission work and frontends replaced.I could continue but enough said.Sorry for being so long winded.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hmmm, I also was wondering the same thing as CLenik1040!...WHY are all of these vehicles only from 2008?.....Was this the ONLY year that was decided to make dependable cars? We have owned 3 Toyota vehicles in the past 17yrs......A 1994 4x4 Toyota truck, that we still own. This is one tough truck!..The body is still top form for a vehicle that is 17yrs old..The ONLY thing major we delt with with this truck was to replace the engine, which we did only 2yrs ago!...Then we owned 2 Toyota 4Runners...A 1995, that we kept for 10yrs...and a 2007 4Runner Sports Edition that I still own. All these vehicles I can honestly say that we had no trouble what so ever with them...Very dependable,tough body( and their body stays in style, no drastic change to their shape over the yrs which is great).. and great gas mileage!....So, back to my question again.....why only the 2008 brands?......When was this study taken?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why not a pic of the Lincoln? AOL you are very ignorant and anti American with many of your so called news articles
      • 4 Years Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      It says in the article that they did a survey for 2008 on the people who had owne their vehicles for 3 years. So this list is all 2008. I buy American I love knowing my car was made 2 miles from my house by people I know.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What about the 2011 Aston-Martin convertible, you guys?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Keith asks: "Why does everything in the reliability study say 2008?" Uh, Keith, you need some time to go by to do a good reliability study. It wouldn't mean much if they all said 2011 models now would it?
      • 4 Years Ago
      There are no more "american" cars. You guys love ford and chevy so much? Why dont you do a little research and see where there plants are and where they get their parts.
      • 4 Years Ago
      why does everything in the study say 2008?
      • 3 Years Ago
      What a joke all t hese reliability research studies are... consumer distorts dropped Porcshe from number 2 to last in 1 year.. explain that one please..... most of the people that drive imports would never admit they had a problem with their precious little import.. even when honda had 90% transmission failure never a word was reported on that..but u let an American car company have a simple problem like a cracked windshield wiper rubber and it is headline news. now toyoata is recalling over h alf a million cars but still remains on top of reliability... explain that one too... the flower children have risen to the executive level and still hate America ..
      • 4 Years Ago
      We have a 2005 Nissan Xterra. Purchased in April 2006, it was a dealer program car with 15k miles. We purchased it in Odessa, TX from West Texas Nissan, a good place to do business. For the past 5 years it has served use very well. For its size the fuel economy is good 23/17 mpg. It has over 107k miles on it, and still runs as good as ever. Snow does not stop it. It plows through it with ease. It is my wife's car. She likes the way she can see all around from inside. It is the only vehicle she has had the confidence to parallel park with ease. I think that alone makes it an exceptional vehicle. We expect to keep it for over 200k miles. It is just that good. Norman Prevatte Fredericksburg, VA
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