Buying the most dependable used cars just got a little easier, thanks to the latest findings from the 2012 J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study.

The good news is that manufacturers are building better and more durable vehicles, with overall vehicle dependability improving substantially on 2009 models. The 2012 J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study measured the initial quality of 2009 model year vehicles – basically the problems experienced by original owners of three-year-old vehicles (2009 model year) during the past 12 months.

According to the study results, 25 of 32 brands improved in dependability from the 2011 study.

Highest Ranked Brands and Models

The clear winner is Lexus, ranking highest in vehicle dependability among all nameplates in the 2012 J.D. Power study. The Lexus LS luxury sedan has the fewest problems in the industry. The next-highest ranking nameplates were Porsche, Cadillac, Toyota and Scion, respectively.

Segment Award Winners

Among the segment award winners, Toyota (and its Lexus and Scion brands) came out on top, garnering a total of eight awards. They are for:

Ford came away with three segment award winners: the Ford Fusion (Midsize Car), Ford Explorer (Midsize Crossover/SUV), tied with Nissan Murano, and the Lincoln MKZ (in a tie with the Lexus ES 350) in the Entry Premium Car category.

General Motors and Nissan each captured two segment awards: Buick Lucerne and Chevrolet Equinox, Large Car and Compact Crossover/SUV, respectively for GM, and Nissan Frontier (Compact Pickup) and Nissan Murano, tied with the Ford Explorer in the Midsize Crossover/SUV.

The Hyundai Genesis also picked up an award, in the Midsize Premium Car category.

For the full list of segment award winners as well as second- and third-place finishers, click here.

What This Means For Consumers

The bottom line for consumers looking for the most dependable used cars is that these 2009 model year vehicles are an excellent place to start. They’ve proven reliable and durable and pretty much trouble-free for the original owners. That’s always a selling point when it comes to scoping out the kind of vehicle you want to meet your needs and that of your family.

Based on these findings, however, it may also mean slightly higher resale value, since owners know they’ve got a highly-ranked vehicle in terms of dependability. If you’re looking for the most dependable used cars and single out one that is a 2012 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability winner, be prepared to pay a little more as a result. But this isn’t all bad and  you still can come out ahead. After all, a dependable used vehicle is definitely what you want when you’re buying anything other than new.

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