Lexus, Kia are the most dependable vehicles in the U.S., says study

Updated Feb 22, 2021 | Same topic: Latest Consumer Reports

Korean car brands are also more dependable than their Japanese counterparts.

The United States started some of the world’s most iconic automotive brands, and Americans can be fiercely loyal to homegrown marques. But when it comes to dependability, customers say that Lexus and Kia lead the pack.

Lexus LC 500

Lexus as a brand is the most dependable for car owners in the U.S.

That’s what the 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) says, conducted by J.D. Power. Now in its 32nd year, the most recent survey is based on the responses from 33,251 original owners of 2018 model-year vehicles. Participating brands were measured for the number of problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) experienced during the past 12 months, covering 177 specific issues across eight major categories:

  • Audio/communications/entertainment/navigation (ACEN)
  • Engine and transmission
  • Exterior
  • Interior
  • Features/controls/displays (FCD)
  • Driving experience
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
  • Seats      

For 2021, the industry average is 121 PP100, representing a 10 percent improvement over the 134 PP100 benchmark in 2020. The lower the score, the more reliable the car. By that standard, Lexus leads overall with a score of 81 PP100. This is the ninth time that the brand has scored the highest in the 10 years it has been included in the study. Porsche came out with 86 PP100 to earn second place, and its 911 model is ranked as the most dependable, the second time in three years.

Kia Sorento front profile shot

Kia leads mass market brands in terms of dependability

If Lexus carries the banner for luxury cars, Kia lords it over the mass market, showing a considerable improvement with 97 PP100, a reduction of 35 from last year. This is the first time that the Korean carmaker ranked highest overall among mass market brands.

Toyota comes in third place with 98 PP100, garnering segment awards for the Lexus ES and GX, as well as the Toyota Avalon, Sienna, and Tundra.

The study further notes that owners of Asian brand vehicles had the fewest problems (115 PP10) compared with U.S. brands (126 PP100) and European makes (131 PP100). Korean brands Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis averaged a combined score of 99 PP100, lower than Japanese brands which together pulled in 118 PP100.

Honda Accord

The study says that some Japanese brands such as Honda are more problematic than Korean ones

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“Today’s three-year-old vehicles are of higher quality and more dependable than in previous years,” according to J.D. Power vice president of global automotive Dave Sargent. However, he notes that poor or inconsistent performance in-vehicle technology continues to affect dependability, as well as the likelihood of customers staying loyal to a particular car brand.

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Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Joseph Paolo Estabillo


Joseph has been a member of various car clubs since he got his driver's license in 2004 – old enough to remember riding in taxicabs with analog meters, but his fascination with cars goes way back. After nearly two decades of working in broadcast media, he shifted gears by coming on board as Philkotse’s first Filipino member and staff writer in 2017.

Apart from his role in Philkotse as Content Team Lead, Joseph has written episodes for Drive, which has been airing on CNN Philippines for five seasons running. He has also delivered content for various car dealerships based in the U.S., spanning multiple brands such as Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Jeep, Dodge, among others.

Keeping his hopes high and his revs low, he dreams about owning a Kei car when he retires. Hates slow parkers.

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