If you like to drive your car, truck or SUV until the wheels fall off, dependability is important, and according to a new study, vehicles are generally becoming more dependable. J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study indicates that the strong initial quality of vehicles built in 2009 “has translated into historically high levels of vehicle dependability in 2012.” Compared with 2011’s dependability study of 2008 model-year vehicles, owners reported 13 percent fewer problems with their three-year old cars, trucks and SUVs.

“Despite facing immense challenges in 2009, automakers placed a keen focus on delivering outstanding levels of quality, which they understood would be essential to their long-term success,” said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. “Three years later, owners of these models are enjoying unprecedented levels of vehicle dependability and manufacturers are experiencing market recovery.”

That’s good news for owners who hold onto their vehicles longer. Top performers include the Toyota Yaris, Buick Lucerne, Toyota Prius, Lexus ES 350, Lincoln MKZ, Scion tC, Hyundai Genesis and Ford Fusion. Sargent says that while brands such as Buick, Cadillac, Ford, Hyundai and Lincoln performed well in the study, they’re still challenged by consumer perceptions regarding reliability.

Of 32 brands measured, 25 improved vehicle dependability from the year before, one stayed even and six lost ground,” writes Autoweek. The top five spots were taken by Lexus, Porsche, Cadillac, Toyota and Scion, in that order. While Toyota brands dominated the highest-ranked vehicles, Chrysler finished last. Dodge, Jeep, Ram and Jaguar vehicles also lagged behind in vehicle dependability.

These results are based on cars sold three years ago,” Doug Betts, senior vice president-quality, Chrysler Group LLC told The Detroit News. “Since that time, we have made significant changes to our product lineup and everything else about our company's structure and the way it develops cars.”

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