The J.D. Power and Associates 2013 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) offers promising news for current owners as well as prospective buyers of 2010-model-year cars and trucks. This annual survey, which measures problems experienced during the previous 12 months by original owners of 3-year-old vehicles, found that overall, problems decreased by about 5 percent compared to the industry figure for 2009 models evaluated in Power's 2012 VDS. Topping the ratings as repeat winner in the Most Dependable Brand category was Lexus. It recorded a stellar 71 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), the key stat the organization uses as its measurement benchmark.

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Filling out the Top 10 Brand rankings are Porsche (94 PP100), Lincoln (112 PP100), Toyota (112 PP100), Mercedes-Benz (115 PP100), Buick (118 PP100), Honda (119 PP100), Acura (120 PP100), Ram (122 PP100), and Suzuki (122 PP100). Mazda (124 PP 100) and Chevrolet (125 PP100) were the only other automakers to record scores better than the industry average of 126 problems per 100. That figure -- which was down from 132 in 2012 -- is the lowest number since the VDS was instituted in 1989. The 2013 Power VDS also found that while import nameplates (123 PP100) still hold an edge in the rankings, the domestic manufacturers (133 PP100) have cut that margin from 13 to 10 problems from the preceding year.

According to David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates, the news was equally good for new or substantially redesigned vehicles. In that arena, 2010 models outperformed their 2009 counterparts, earning an average dependability score of 116 PP100 on the 2013 VDS versus 133 PP100 in 2012. Sargent notes that unlike in the past when these remade offerings frequently fell victim to first-year issues, "the rapid improvement in fundamental vehicle dependability each year is more than offsetting any initial glitches that all-new or redesigned models may have."

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On an individual model level, the 2013 Lexus RX became the first SUV/Crossover vehicle to ever roll off with the top overall-ratings honor, recording just 57 problems per 100 on average. Ram experienced the greatest upward move for a brand, shedding 52 PP100 from its 2012 figure. Collectively, Toyota/Lexus/Scion accounted for seven segment wins, while GM grabbed four, Honda/Acura netted a pair and Audi, Ford, Hyundai, Mazda and Nissan earned one each.

"The continuous improvement in long-term dependability means consumers should have more confidence in three-year-old vehicles, whether they are keeping their current vehicle or shopping for a used car, truck, crossover or SUV," said Sargent. "This means there are a lot of dependable off-lease vehicles in the used-vehicle market. It also means that owners who keep their vehicle beyond the manufacturer's warranty period are able to have greater peace of mind that vehicles are becoming increasingly more dependable. That said, it is virtually certain that new vehicles being sold today will be even more reliable in three years." A complete listing of manufacturer rankings and individual segment winners can be found at


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