In the market for a car--maybe one that's a little gently used? You're in luck: this week, J.D. Power published its 2017 Vehicle Dependability Study, showing which brands are likely to cause the fewest headaches down the road.
The Dependability Study is a bit like Power's equally popular Initial Quality Study, which is typically issued in June. Both studies assess real-world data from America's registered drivers about the problems they've had with their cars, trucks, and SUVs.
The difference is that the Initial Quality Study looks at issues folks have had with new vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership. The Dependability Study, however, looks at vehicles that are three years old--the idea being that brands that score well stand a better chance of holding up over the long term.
For the 2017 edition of its Dependability Study, Power polled 35,186 original owners of 2014 model-year vehicles, asking how many issues they'd had with their vehicles in the previous 12 months. Responses were gathered between October and December 2016.
The winners, the losers
Tied for first place in this year's study were two perennial top-of-the-heap contenders: luxury marques Lexus and Porsche. Each brand had a reported 110 problems per 100 vehicles during the prior year.
But premium cars weren't the only ones receiving high scores: in third place was one of the world's best-known mass-market brands, Toyota, with 123 problems per 100 vehicles. Buick followed with a score of 126, and Mercedes-Benz rounded out the top five with 133.
The industry average was 156 problems per 100 vehicles. That's four points higher than the 2016 average.
At the bottom of the charts were four of Fiat Chrysler's five brands (which is, unfortunately, fairly common in surveys like this). Fiat fared worst of all, with a staggering 298 problems per 100 vehicles, though in fairness, it might've been bested by Smart if Power had been able to find enough Smart owners to include in the survey.
In the penultimate spot, Jeep fared much better than its FCA sibling, with owners reporting 209 problems per 100 vehicles during the previous year. Other low performers were Infiniti (203), Dodge (187), and Ram (183).
As far as individual models are concerned, Toyota was the clear winner, earning top marks in 10 of Power's 18 segments. (That's a record for this study.) Those winners included the Lexus ES, Lexus GS, Lexus RX, Toyota Avalon, Toyota Camry, Toyota FJ Cruiser, Toyota Prius, Toyota Prius v, Toyota Sienna, and Toyota Venza.
And interestingly enough, of all models--luxury and mass-market--the Toyota Camry had the fewest number of issues.
It also means that when it comes to issues with your next ride, chances are they'll involve the technology on your dashboard, not the transmission. In-car tech accounted for 22 percent of all owners' visits to the shop, and more often than not Bluetooth pairing and misrecognition of voice commands were the culprits. You've been warned.