When you buy a used car there’s a lot to keep an eye out for. From sensible questions about fuel economy to how much fun it is to take it off road, the number one thing most buyers worry about is “am I buying a lemon?” Buyers are increasingly avoiding models with poor dependability reputations. But that still leaves the question of which car is the most dependable in its class.
Fortunately, dear reader, J.D. Power has released its 28th annual Vehicle Dependability Study which has studied the reliability of 2014 model-year cars over the past 12 months to find the best in each class. Reliability is based on the number problems experienced per 100 vehicles. The fewer the problems, the lower the score.
They looked at everything from features, controls, engine, transmission, heating/cooling, entertainment, navigation, the overall driving experience, and much more.
This year Toyota has taken top honors with ten wins out of 18 categories. General Motors came in second with four wins, while Lexus scored three wins dominating the premium classes. Without any further ado, here are the results of the J.D. Power 2017 Vehicle Dependability Study.
18. Small Car: 2014 Chevrolet Sonic
The Sonic is Chevrolet’s subcompact offering that comes standard with a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine. Available as a sedan or four-door hatchback, it can be upgraded to a turbocharged 138-hp 1.4-liter engine which comes standard on the Sonic RS. The car handles well for a subcompact and gets 35 miles to the gallon on the highway (or 25 MPG in the city) but tends to be slower than its competitors. The Chevy Sonic RS also doesn’t get an engine upgrade like the Ford Fiesta ST does. You should be able to pick one up used for about $9,000. The runners-up in this category are the Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Spark, Mitsubishi Mirage, and the Ford Fiesta.
17. Compact Car: 2014 Toyota Prius
The Toyota Prius is one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the United States today with 52 MPG in the city and 48 MPG on the highway. The four-door midsize hatchback is the world’s best-selling hybrid and is sold as a regular hybrid or a plug-in model. The drive in a Prius isn’t that much fun and tends to be a rough, noisy ride. But you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank over the savings you’ll make. A used 2014 model should run you about $15,500. Runner-ups include the Buick Verano, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and the Chevrolet Cruze.
16. Compact Premium Car: 2014 Lexus ES
For something a bit more luxurious, the Lexus ES takes top honors as the compact premium car pick. The car is available with a 268 horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 or a four-cylinder 2.5-liter hybrid with 200 horsepower. The V-6 will get you 21 MPG in the city or 31 MPG on the highway. The hybrid model will get you even more with 40 MPG in the city and 39 MPG on the highway. The car will give you some great acceleration and a comfy interior but the ride can be a bit noisy. Base price for a used V-6 will run you about $26,100. The other cars that ranked high in this category are the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Acura ILX, Acura TL, and the BMW 3 Series.
15. Compact Multi-Purpose Vehicle: 2014 Toyota Prius V
The Prius makes it onto this list twice. Once for the top compact car pick and the larger Toyota Prius V gets the top spot as the compact multi-purpose vehicle. It features the same four-cylinder Atkinson cycle 1.8-liter engine / electric motor combo but at a reduced 42 MPG in the city and 40 MPG on the highway. The upside, however, is the V has a longer wheelbase and reworked suspension which will deliver a smoother ride than the regular hatchback. You should be able to pick up the larger hybrid for about $17,475. The only competition the Prius V faced in this category were the Kia Soul and the Fiat 500L.
14. Midsize Car: 2014 Toyota Camry
The Camry has been one of the best-selling cars in the United States for years and arguably the most popular family sedan. The car is available with three different engines: a four-cylinder 2.5-liter with 178 horsepower, a 3.5-liter V-6 with 268 horsepower, and a four-cylinder 2.5-liter hybrid that produces 200 hp. It may not be the most exciting drive but the quiet cabins are ideal for both the local commute and a long road trip. You should be able to pick one up used for about $13,825. Runner ups in the midsize category include the Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata, Buick Regal, and the Subaru Legacy.
13. Midsize Premium Car: 2014 Lexus GS
The Lexus GS is available as either the GS 350, a 3.5-liter V-6 with 306 horsepower or the GS 450h which is a 3.5-liter hybrid V-6 with 338 horsepower. The GS 350 comes in a rear-drive 19 MGP in city and 29 MPG on the highway or an all-wheel drive at 19/26 MPG. Meanwhile, the hybrid GS 450h boasts an impressive 29 MPG in the city and 34 miles to the gallon on the highway. The Lexus GS handles extremely well and has a luxurious interior made from high-quality materials. Base price for the GS 350 is about $30,325 used. The runner-ups in this class are the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A7, Audi A6, and the Cadillac XTS.
12. Midsize Sporty Car: 2014 Chevrolet Camaro
If you’re looking for a sportier alternative, look no further than the Chevrolet Camaro. Several models are available including a 3.6-liter V-6 with 323 horsepower, a 6.2-liter V-8 with 426 horsepower, and a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 that produces 580 horsepower. The base model is an affordable $15,600 used and for that, you get a classic muscle car that is an iconic piece of American automotive history. The downside is the MPG is pretty low especially when you get to the supercharged V-8. The Camaro outperformed the two other cars on the list of the Ford Mustang and the Dodge Challenger.
11. Large Car: 2014 Toyota Avalon
For those of us who want a larger car, the Toyota Avalon beat out the competition. Offering either a 3.5-liter V-6 with 268 horsepower or a hybrid four-cylinder Atkinson cycle 2.5-liter paired to an electric motor with 200 horsepower. The V-6 will get you 21 miles to the gallon in the city or 31 MPG on the highway while the hybrid will get you 40 MPG in the city and 39 MPG on the highway. Add in the 17-gallon fuel tank along with the hybrid engine and you’re looking at a car that will need very few stops on a long drive. A fair market price for a used one is about $21,525. The Avalon beat out the Buick LaCrosse, Kia Cadenza, Nissan Maxima, and the Ford Taurus.
10. Minivan: 2014 Toyota Sienna
Everyone wants a nice looking car but sometimes what you need is space. A lot of space. And that can mean only one thing: a minivan. The Toyota Sienna is the top pick and comes with a 3.5-liter V-6 with 266 horsepower. It seats up to eight people and is one of the few minivans available with all-wheel drive. Fuel economy for the Sienna is 18 MPG in the city and 25 mpg on the highway but those estimates drop down to 16 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway with all-wheel drive. Price-wise you’re looking at $18,300 for a used Sienna. Other minivans this one outperformed include the Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Kia Sedona, and the Honda Odyssey.
9. Midsize Pickup: 2014 Honda Ridgeline
Maybe you need space for cargo and not people. That’s where the SUV/truck hybrid Honda Ridgeline comes in. Sporting a 250 horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine, the Ridgeline has a maximum payload of 1,546 lbs and gets 15 MPG in city and 21 MPG on the highway. The truck holds up to five passengers, has a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 lbs, and is available in five trim levels of RT, Sport, RTS, RTL, and SE. You can grab a used Ridgeline for a base price of about $22,975. The pickup beat out the Nissan Frontier and the Toyota Tacoma.
8. Large Light Duty Pickup: 2014 Ford F-150
Moving up in size in the pickup department your best bet for a reliable used light duty pickup truck is the Ford F-150. Along with a maximum towing 8,300 lbs. and a max payload 1,765 lbs. for the base model, you can upgrade to your choice of four engines. A 302 horsepower 3.7-liter V-6. One of two V-8 engines which include a 360 horsepower 5.0-liter engine and a 6.2-liter engine with 411 horsepower. Finally, there’s a twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 which will give you 365 horsepower. The base model will run you a reasonable $17,675 for a used pickup. The F-150 outperformed the Toyota Tundra, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram 1500, and GMC Sierra.
7. Large Heavy Duty Pickup: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado HD
Rounding out the list of pickup trucks is the top pick for the large heavy duty pickup: the Chevrolet Silverado HD. Available in a 6.0-liter V-8 with 360 horsepower base engine or a 397 horsepower turbodiesel 6.6-liter V-8, the Silverado won’t win any economy awards guzzling 12 MPG in the city or 18 MPG on the highway. But you will love its max towing capacity of 13,000 lbs. and a max payload of 4,370 lbs. The Silverado HD starts at a fair market price of $22,000 for a used truck. It beat out the GMC Sierra HD, Ford Super Duty, and the Ram 2500/3500.
6. Small SUV: 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan
The final category of transportation vehicles is the sports utility vehicle. For the compact crossover, the Volkswagen Tiguan with its 200 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-liter engine wins out. It’s available in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive which nets 21 MPG in the city or 26 MPG on the highway in the front-wheel model. The all-wheel drive version will get you 20 MPG in city or 26 mpg on the highway. A fair market price for a used Tiguan will cost about $14,875. The runner-ups in this category are the Buick Encore, Hyundai Tucson, MINI Countryman, and the Kia Sportage.
5. Compact SUV: 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser
The Toyota FJ Cruiser is a compact SUV designed for those of you who want to get out of the city every so often. It’s styled after the FJ40 Land Cruiser which was popular in the 60s but comes with a 260 horsepower 4.0-liter V-6 engine. The fuel economy on the FJ is pretty dismal getting only 16 miles to the gallon in the city or 20 MPG on the highway in the rear-wheel drive model. The four-wheel drive gets even less with 15 MPG in the city and 18 MPG on the highway. A used FJ Cruiser will set you back about $31,250. The other top contenders in this class were the Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Honda CR-V, and the Mazda CX-5.
4. Compact Premium SUV: 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK Class
Looking to upgrade to a premium SUV we have the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class which once served as the entry-level SUV for the luxury car manufacturer. It has since been replaced by the C-Class-based GLC-Class while the GLA-Class serves as Mercedes’ entry-level SUV. The GLK-Class comes with a V6 3.5 Liter engine that produces 302 horsepower. It gets a respectable 19 MPG in the city or 26 MPG on the highway. The Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class comes with a fair market price tag of $27,725 for a used SUV. It beat out the Acura RDX, Volvo XC60, BMW X1, and the BMW X3.
3. Midsize SUV: 2014 Toyota Venza
The Toyota Venza is the midsize SUV winner and comes in three trims levels of LE, XLE, and Limited. The LE and XLE come with an 181-horsepower four-cylinder 2.7-liter engine that will get you 20 MPG in the city and 26 miles to the gallon on the highway. Both models can be upgraded to 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine and comes standard on the Venza Limited. That engine will get you 18 miles per gallon in the city and 26 MPG on the highway. A used SUV will run about $18,650 for the base model. It beat out the Ford Edge, Honda Pilot, Nissan Murano, and the Buick Enclave.
2. Midsize Premium SUV: 2014 Lexus RX
For a more luxurious option to the Venza, there’s the Lexus RX which tops out the premium SUV list. Just like the Lexus ES and GS, the Lexus RX is available in a V-6 model, the RX 350, and a hybrid model called the RX 450h. The RX 350 houses a 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 while the hybrid marries the V-6 to an electric motor. Fuel economy on the Lexus RX 350 is 18 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway. The hybrid bumps that up to 32 MPG in the city and 28 miles to the gallon on the highway. A fair market price for a used Lexus RX will cost about $30,450. Other cars in this class include the Lexus GX, Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, and the Cadillac SRX.
1. Large SUV: 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe
The final vehicle on the list is the most reliable large SUV, the Chevy Tahoe. It features a 320-horsepower 5.3-liter V-8 that gets 15 miles to the gallon in the city or 21 MPG on the highway in both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive modes. It seats seven to nine passengers and is a great alternative to a minivan. But unlike a minivan, it makes for a great off-road vehicle as well. A fair market price for a used Tahoe will run you about $28,775. It beat out the GMC Yukon, Ford Expedition, and the Chevrolet Suburban.
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