Most Reliable Cars in 2008

Although I admit that professional surveys mean little when it’s YOUR car that breaks down, I’d like to share the list of most reliable cars based on the recently released J.D. Power & Associates list of the most reliable cars of 2008.

At the top of the list is, of course, a Toyota brand (Lexus). However, interesting to note are #2 and #3: American brands. Who would have though that a Ford and a Chevy brand would beat out Toyota in reliability results, but given Toyota’s massive amount of recalls in the last few years, I guess it’s understandable:

  1. Lexus
  2. Mercury
  3. Cadillac
  4. Toyota
  5. Acura
  6. Buick
  7. BMW
  8. Lincoln
  9. Honda
  10. Jaguar

And what’s going on with Honda? Oh how the mighty have fallen. Perhaps Toyota and Honda now see what it’s like to be a top producer, in high demand, and rushed to produce more cars than their process can handle. That’s one big reason you see their quality slipping.

Here’s a look at the top models by segment:

Standard Cars

  • Subcompact: Hyundai Accent
  • Compact: Toyota Prius
  • Midsize: Buick Century
  • Large: Ford Crown Victoria

Sports Cars

  • Compact: Mazda Miata
  • Midsize: Chevy Monte Carlo (although there aren’t a huge number of options in this segment)

Premium cars

  • Entry: Lexus IS 300
  • Midsize: Lexus ES 330
  • Large: Lexus LS 430
  • Sporty: Lexus SC 430

Sport Utility Vehicles

  • Compact: Honda Element and Toyota RAV4 (tie)
  • Midsize: Toyota Highlander
  • Large: Toyota Sequoia

Pickup Trucks

  • Midsize: Ford Ranger
  • Large: Toyota Tundra

For the sake of comparison, Consumer Reports released their list of the most reliable cars for 2008 earlier this year. These rankings are broken down by type of vehicle, though the categories differ slightly from the J.D. Power rankings:

  • Family cars: Toyota Prius, Honda Accord (4-cyl), Ford Fusion (V6)
  • Large cars: Buick Lucerne (V8), Toyota Avalon, Dodge Charger (V6)
  • Small cars: Toyota Yaris Hatchback, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris Sedan
  • Minivans: Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Town & Country
  • Small SUVS: Honda Element, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru Forester (turbo)
  • Midsized SUVs: Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Toyota 4Runner

One thing to note in these studies is that it’s just based on surveying owners of these vehicles and some analysis of market recalls. And as I said, it means nothing if you own a Lexus that spends more time at the dealer’s service department than in your driveway. Also, reliability is only one attribute of the vehicle selection process, so don’t go running out and buying a car simply because it is on this list. Do your research, test drive the vehicle and make an informed decision before plunking down tens of thousands of dollars on a hunk of metal and plastic.

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