This time, we’d like to introduce you to J.D. Power, another group known for its reliability rankings. J.D. Power recently published its annual Vehicle Dependability Study, which measures reliability problems in three-year-old vehicles. The organization collects data by surveying drivers who bought their cars new to find out what issues they had in the third year of ownership.
The focus on three-year-old vehicles means this year’s survey looks at 2016 models. J.D. Power’s findings are most valuable for buyers of late-model used vehicles, such as those that have just come off short-term leases.
J.D. Power’s is consumer-focused, so it only considers vehicles from mainstream brands. Of the 31 makes included in this year’s study, Porsche is the most exotic. It is also this year’s second-most dependable brand overall, finishing behind first-place Lexus and ahead of Toyota.
The Porsche 911 is 2016’s most dependable vehicle overall. Curiously, though, none of Porsche’s models rank most dependable in any of J.D. Power’s 20 individual vehicle categories. All German brands earned better-than-average dependability ratings, a first in the study’s 30-year history.
Read on to find out which models J.D. Power considers the industry’s most reliable.
Most dependable small car: Chevrolet Sonic
The Chevrolet Sonic was a five-year-old design in 2016.
- It has aged well, with a grown-up driving feel and spacious interior.
- Available engines are a 1.8L four-cylinder and more powerful 1.4L version with turbocharging.
- A sporty RS trim is our favorite.
- It uses the more powerful engine, a firmer suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes.
Most dependable compact car: Buick Verano
- The 2016 Verano boasts a quiet ride and comfortable suspension.
- Among its available options is a turbocharged engine that makes 250 hp and comes with a six-speed manual transmission.
Most dependable compact sporty car: Mini Cooper
The third-generation Mini Cooper is the most reliable version yet of this fun hatchback.
- Basic models from 2016 use a 1.5L turbocharged three-cylinder engine that’s pretty dull to drive, but the Mini Cooper S gets a more responsive 2.0L four-cylinder.
- Either way, the Mini Cooper is one of the best handling cars at any price.
Most dependable compact multi-purpose vehicle: Kia Soul
In our opinion, J.D. Power’s vehicle categories get too specific. We would sooner call the Kia Soul a compact station wagon.
- Whatever you call it, the Soul is roomy for its size.
- The boxy shape means it’s not very aerodynamic and highway fuel economy is disappointing.
- At the top of the 2016 range, the Kia Soul came with cooled front seats, heated rear seats and lane departure and forward collision warning systems.
Most dependable compact premium car: Lexus ES
We question J.D. Power’s decision to call the Lexus ES a compact car.
- In 2016, it was more like a full-size sedan that came standard with LED headlights, cooled front seats and passive keyless entry.
- Its 3.5L V6 is powerful and quick.
- A hybrid version is less potent but boasts compact car-like fuel economy.
Most dependable mid-size car: Toyota Camry
It’s no surprise to find the Camry in this ranking.
- Toyota’s legendary reliability has helped this family sedan become a household name.
- The 2016 Toyota Camry came with four-cylinder, hybrid and V6 engines.
- The V6’s power is nice, but we think the other engines better suit the Camry’s reputation as an efficient family vehicle.
Most dependable mid-size sporty car: Dodge Challenger
If you want straight-line speed, the Dodge Challenger is a good way to get it.
- The flagship of the 2016 lineup was the 707-hp Challenger Hellcat.
- Dodge offered two other V8 engines that year, which made 372 hp and 485 hp.
- If you want the look without the speed, a base V6 makes 305 hp.
Most dependable mid-size premium car: BMW 5 Series
By 2016, the sixth generation of the BMW 5 Series was in its last year.
- If you’re shopping for one, you have a wide range of turbocharged engines to choose from.
- The 528i uses a four-cylinder; a 535i has a gasoline six-cylinder, and the 535d a diesel six-cylinder; and the 550i has a swift V8.
- There’s also the M5, which turns this sedan into a top-tier performance car.
Most dependable large car: Buick LaCrosse
The 2016 Buick LaCrosse also came out a year before a major redesign.
- In most respects, the LaCrosse is a pretty ordinary big sedan.
- An optional adaptive suspension helps this car handle surprisingly well.
- In standard trim, expect a quiet, comfortable ride and good power from a V6 engine.
Most dependable small SUV: Volkswagen Tiguan
Volkswagen introduced the first-generation Tiguan in 2009.
- By 2016, competitors like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 had outgrown it.
- But the original Volkswagen Tiguan is fun to drive thanks to a turbocharged engine that was a rarity in the class at the time.
- Its suspension provides a great balance of comfort and handling.
Most dependable small premium SUV: Audi Q3
In 2016, the Audi Q3 was still new in the upscale compact crossover category, having been introduced in Canada the year before.
- Its styling is awkward compared to the larger Q5, but distinctive with its large grille and wraparound tailgate.
- The Audi Q3 and VW Tiguan have a lot in common, including their turbocharged engine.
- Consider the Tiguan a more affordable alternative to this little Audi.
Most dependable compact SUV: Chevrolet Equinox
Chevrolet restyled its popular Equinox in 2016, lending more flair to this small crossover.
- While the Equinox is classified as a compact, it feels bigger than that inside.
- Base models use a four-cylinder engine that feels underpowered.
- The option is a 301-hp V6 that brings great acceleration but hurts fuel economy.
Most dependable compact premium SUV: BMW X3
The second-generation BMW X3 was well into its run in 2016.
BMW had refreshed the X3’s styling the year before and added a diesel engine option that makes a modest 180 hp.
- Its 280 lb-ft of torque is more impressive, as is its fuel economy.
- Other engine choices are a gas four-cylinder with 241 hp and a 300-hp six-cylinder.
Most dependable mid-size SUV: Hyundai Santa Fe XL
By 2016, the Hyundai Santa Fe XL SUV had established itself with a refinement that belied its price.
- As the XL label suggests, this is a larger, seven-seat version of the Santa Fe.
- It’s a family-sized vehicle whose smooth V6 engine makes 290 hp.
- The Limited trim level turns the Santa Fe XL into a budget-priced luxury model.
Most dependable mid-size premium SUV: Lexus GX
Until recently, the Lexus GX SUV was the company’s only mid-size utility vehicle with seven seats.
- It combines luxury with a truck-based platform and true off-road ability.
- A soft suspension makes this SUV comfortable on paved roads, too.
- The only engine is a powerful V8 that uses a lot of gas.
Most dependable large SUV: Ford Expedition
The Ford Expedition SUV is a less-posh version of the Lincoln Navigator.
- All Expedition models in 2016 used a turbo V6 engine that performs like a V8 but with better fuel economy.
- An Expedition Max has a larger interior and more cargo space, but all versions can seat eight people.
- Platinum trim turns this big SUV into a near-luxury vehicle without the Navigator’s expensive price.
Most dependable minivan: Chrysler Town & Country
This is the last time you’ll see the Chrysler Town & Country minivan on this list.
- Chrysler replaced it with the more stylish Pacifica in 2017.
- A big V6 engine makes a lot of smooth power and the suspension provides a comfortable ride.
- Other minivans offered similar luxury, but the Town & Country is among the more affordable upscale minivans on the used market.
Most dependable mid-size pickup: Nissan Frontier
By 2016, the Nissan Frontier pickup truck’s design was 12 years old.
- This is hardly the most high-tech used pickup, but it’s a proven and simple design.
- The King Cab body has two small, side-facing back seats.
- The Crew Cab is larger and has a three-place rear bench.
- Engines are a 152-hp four-cylinder and a 261-hp V6.
Most dependable light-duty pickup: Toyota Tundra
The Toyota Tundra full-size pickup boasts the same reputation for durability as the Camry and Corolla cars.
- However, it doesn’t offer as much choice as the more popular Ford F-150 pickup.
- There is no V6 engine option, just a pair of V8s that makes 310 hp and 381 hp.
- There are three body styles, though.
- A regular cab seats three and the Double Cab and Crewmax seat six.
- The Crewmax has a larger back seat with luxury-sedan legroom.
Most dependable heavy-duty pickup: Chevrolet Silverado HD
The Chevrolet Silverado HD pickup is available in 2500 and 3500 versions.
- Both boast more towing and payload than the light-duty 1500 model.
- In theory, this is a work truck.
- In practice, a High Country trim turns the Silverado HD into a legitimate luxury vehicle.
- The base engine in 2016 models is a 360-hp gas V8.
- Diesel is more notable for 765 lb-ft of torque than its 397 hp.