If you're shopping a late-model used car, a new study might nudge you toward Toyota or GM. Both automakers dominated J.D. Power and Associates' influential 2015 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, released today. Toyota's Lexus luxury division topped the VDS' 31-brand dependability rankings, while the Toyota brand itself ranked third. GM was close behind, with its Buick and Cadillac divisions ranking second and fourth, respectively. The automakers' remaining brands — Scion, GMC and Chevrolet — were well above average.
Shoppers should pay attention to the VDS, which this year surveyed more than 34,000 owners of 2012 model-year cars in late 2014 to gauge how many problems they experienced in the first three years of ownership. Don't confuse it with the firm's Initial Quality Study, which measures problems in the first 90 days.
Jeep and Fiat were recent losers in both studies, but most Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brands fared poorly in the VDS. Fiat, Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler accounted for four of the bottom nine brands; FCA's Ram truck division was the sole bright spot, landing above average.
Lexus remains the highest-ranked VDS brand for its fourth consecutive year. The brand's 89 problems per 100 cars were the lowest of all brands by a significant margin. By contrast, Land Rover and Fiat both had more than 250 problems per 100 cars — the industry average was 147 problems per 100 cars.
The 2015 VDS analyzed 177 specific problems across eight categories. Here are the full rankings: