Special Report

This Is the Most Dependable Car in America

Many people cannot buy the car they would like to own for different reasons. But if they could, some would likely consider Kia, the most dependable car in America. (These, on the other hand, are cars Americans don’t want to buy.)

The main reason people cannot buy the car they want is that auto inventory is extraordinarily tight, primarily because of a shortage of semiconductor chips used in the electronics and infotainment systems in cars. Supply chain problems also have meant some manufacturers needed to shutter assembly lines. The problem is so severe that even a strike among the truck drivers that deliver auto parts threatens to make industry inventory even smaller.

Prices have been a barrier for people who can find the car they would like to buy. Dealers have started to raise prices above the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Ford’s CEO threatened to punish its dealers if they continue the practice. Ford chief Jim Farley stated, “We have very good knowledge of who they are, and their future allocation of [the] product will be directly impacted.”

Drivers have recently held on to cars for record amounts of time. The average age of an American car on the road in 2021 was 12.1 years, according to IHS Markit. That is up from 9.6 years in 2002. One theory of why people hold these cars longer is that they are built better than a generation ago, which suggests that they are more dependable. (These are the longest lasting cars on the road.)

Car research leader J.D. Power releases its U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study each year. The just-released 2022 edition is the 33rd year the company has done the research.

The new edition looks at cars from the 2019 model year. It catalogs 184 problems that fall into nine categories: climate, driving assistance, driving experience, exterior, features/controls, displays infotainment, interior, powertrain, and seats. 

Summarizing one reason for the study, David Amodeo, director of global automotive at J.D. Power, commented, “Many owners are holding on to their vehicles longer, so long-term dependability is even more critical.”

The primary yardstick for dependability in the study is problems per 100 vehicles. The research divides car brands into two categories, mass market and premium. Ironically, mass-market brands averaged 190 problems per 100 vehicles, while premium brands averaged 204 problems per 100 vehicles. The authors believe that the more elaborate electronics and infotainment systems in premium cars may be the reason.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the report to find the most dependable cars in America. Across all brands, South Korea’s Kia took first place with 145 problems per 100 vehicles. Buick and Hyundai followed closely. Among luxury cars, Genesis, the luxury brand of Hyundai finished first at 155.

The brand with the worst performance was Land Rover, the high-end sport utility vehicle brand, with 284 problems per 100 vehicles.

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