As vehicle owners have become increasingly testy over inconveniences like onerous infotainment systems, balky Bluetooth cellphone pairing, and testy voice-command interfaces, the concept of reliability has been stretched in recent years. Issues with electronics now account for 20 percent of all consumer-reported car glitches in JD Power’s dependability ratings, and have caused Consumer Reports to give poor marks for what some might otherwise consider to be amenable rides.
Still, it’s the hardcore mechanical issues that could strand an owner at the side of the road or otherwise require frequent trips to the dealer’s service department for repairs that should matter most to car and truck buyers, particularly those who intend to keep them for longer than the original warranty period. To that end, we dug deep into the results of the latest JD Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, based on over 35,000 surveys conducted among original owners of three-year-old cars, to determine which models should, in fact, mechanically stand the test of time better than others.
While JDP ranks models for overall reliability, which includes body and trim aspects and issues with features and accessories, we instead zeroed in on the survey’s “Powertrain Dependability” scores. According to JDP these are, “Based on problems with the engine or transmission as well as problems that affect the driving experience (i.e. vehicle/brakes pull, abnormal noises or vibrations).”
By that method, we’re featuring the 13 cars in the accompanying slideshow that received perfect five out of five “Power Circle” scores for powertrain dependability, based on the performance of 2014 models. We’re offering a list of the least-reliable cars, based on those models achieving the lowest JDP powertrain ratings in a separate post, as well as those that identify the most- and least-reliable pickup trucks, SUVs/crossovers, and minivans.
Be aware that JDP focuses its surveys on mainstream models, eschewing low-volume sports cars and high-end luxury cars. And keep in mind these recommendations are based on the historic performance of 2014 models, and as such may not reflect as accurately on more-recently introduced or fully redesigned models.