While the Detroit "Big Three" are surprisingly under-represented, Toyota dominates the list with six of the 14 top picks.
With the average new-vehicle ownership period now extending to around 6.5 years, long-term reliability is – or at least should be – among a car or truck buyer’s major concerns. These 14 pickups, SUVs, and minivans, then, received perfect scores for powertrain reliability in the latest JD Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, which is based on over 35,000 surveys conducted among original owners of three-year-old cars. Click here for details on our methodology.
Toyota/Lexus dominates the trucks list, placing more than half (seven) of the 13 models cited. Unfortunately, all the Toyotas get lower marks for feature/accessory reliability, which should come as no surprise to anyone that’s driven a recent vintage model with the manufacturer’s difficult to master and often just plain balky touchscreen infotainment system. Still, that’s of relatively minor concern, compared to where the proverbial rubber meets the road, and that’s a vehicle’s major mechanical components.
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1. BMW X3
While it only gets average marks for overall dependability from JD Power, the compact and decidedly sporty BMW X3 crossover SUV is the only model in its class to get a perfect grade for powertrain performance; survey respondents marked it off for body and interior dependability, however. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports rates the 2014 vintage above average for reliability, but gives it somewhat lower scores for in-car electronics and climate control; it gives the 2017 edition a recommended rating.
The heavy-duty pickup truck class of 2014 consisted of only four models, with the two General Motors entries receiving perfect scores for powertrain dependability from JD Power. Though the Silverado HD (shown above) and Sierra HD are mechanically identical, the Sierra gets below-average marks for body and interior dependability from JDP. According to Consumer Reports surveys, the 2014 models score above average in most regards, but get lower marks for minor engine problems, which CR defines as issues with "accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, (or) oil leaks."
3. GMC Yukon
Curiously, the full-size truck-based Yukon SUV is mechanically identical to the Chevrolet Tahoe, yet it gets a perfect powertrain score while the Chevy only gets a four out of five rating from JD Power. And the Yukon gets just an average JDP score for body/interior, while the Tahoe gets a top rating in that regard. Could Chevy and GMC owners be fussy about different things? As it stands, both models get a top overall JDP reliability score. Consumer Reports, on the other hand, gives the 2014 Yukon a rock-bottom overall reliability rating, but grants both the Chevy and GMC versions top or above average scores for most mechanical issues including the powertrain, so go figure.
Another small segment that, for 2014, included the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma, the car-based midsize Ridgeline pickup gets top marks across the board for dependability from JD Power. It also gets a top reliability score from Consumer Reports, with only body and suspension issues getting just-average marks. The current model is recommended by CR. Note that the Ridgeline went out of production for the 2015 and 2016 model years, but returned to Honda’s lineup in an updated and restyled – though mechanically similar – version for the 2017 model year.
The compact Tucson crossover received a top rating from JD Power for powertrain dependability, though it only garnered an average score for body/interior, which knocked its overall dependability rating down a notch. Consumer Reports gives the 2014 model a three out of five score for reliability, though it’s rated above average in all major categories except for the suspension and power equipment/electronics. The Tucson was redesigned for the 2016 model year and the current model is recommended by CR.
6. Lexus RX
Lexus’ popular midsize premium crossover SUV gets a perfect dependability rating in most regards from JD Power, though it does get knocked down a point for body/interior dependability. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports gives the 2014 top marks for reliability, again citing body issues (squeaks, rattles, leaks, etc.) as a minor weakness. The RX received a full revision for the 2016 model year and the current model is recommended by CR.
7. Kia Sportage
Kia’s compact crossover SUV gets top marks for powertrain dependability from JD Power, though it’s given a below-average score for feature/accessory reliability that takes the overall rating down a notch. The 2014 version has not been rated for reliability by Consumer Reports, however. The Sportage received a major makeover for the 2016 model year, with the current edition being recommended by CR.
The midsize Murano crossover SUV is ranked highly for powertrain dependability by JD Power, though its survey respondents didn’t think as highly of it for body/interior issues, giving it only an average grade in that regard. The 2014 model also gets top marks for reliability from Consumer Reports, though it gets marked off a notch for its electronics, body/paint and body integrity (those squeaks and rattles again). The Murano was redesigned for the 2015 model year and the current model is recommended by CR.
The rugged midsize truck-based 4Runner SUV gets a perfect powertrain score, but is knocked down to below average in feature and accessory dependability, which shouldn’t surprise anyone given Toyota’s woefully inept infotainment systems. The 2014 4Runner gets a perfect five out of five score for reliability from Consumer Reports, though again gets a rock-bottom grade for its dubious electronics.
The retro-styled FJ Cruiser truck-based SUV is the only compact model to get a perfect powertrain dependability rating from JD Power, based on the 2014 version. It nearly ranks perfectly across all JDP dependability categories, though it gets a four out of five score for feature/accessory reliability. Consumer Reports hasn’t rated it for reliability, though it gives the burly SUV high marks for performance and owner satisfaction. Unfortunately, the FJ Cruiser went out of production at the end of the 2014 model year, though it remains in demand in the pre-owned market.
One of no fewer than three midsize SUVs that aced JD Power’s powertrain rating, the Highlander missed getting a top score for overall dependability due to a just-average score for body/interior and below average score for feature/accessory dependability. Again, blame Toyota’s clumsy touchscreen infotainment system for the latter deficiency. Consumer Reports gives the 2014 model a four out of five for reliability, with the aforementioned electronics getting a rock-bottom rating in that regard. The current version is CR recommended.
12. Toyota Sienna
Toyota’s minivan gets perfect JD Power scores for both powertrain and overall reliability, and the latter is despite getting just a score of just three out of five for body/interior and four for feature/accessory dependability. Consumer Reports gives the 2014 Sienna a perfect score for reliability, though CR’s survey respondents likewise knock off a couple of points for body integrity and electronics. It also recommends the current model.
13. Toyota Tundra
The full-size Tundra pickup truck was completely redesigned for the 2014 model year to better take on the domestic-branded half-ton stalwarts. While the Ford F-150 gets a top overall dependability rating from JD Power, that model only gets a three out of five for powertrain durability, while the Tundra gets a perfect score in that regard. As with many of the above Toyotas, the Tundra’s overall tally was brought down a tick due to lower grades for body/interior and feature/accessory dependability. Consumer Reports give it a top rating for reliability, but likewise scores its stubborn electronics low. The 2017 version is recommended by CR.
14. Toyota Venza
The Venza is a wagon-like midsize crossover SUV based on the Toyota Camry, and it just about receives top scores across the board for dependability from JD Power, though it gets marked off for, you guessed it, feature/accessory dependability. For its part, Consumer Reports gives it a top score for reliability, with caveats related to body integrity and, that’s right, electronics. You’ll have to look for the Venza on a used-car lot, however, as was discontinued at the end of the 2015 model year.