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Most Reliable Cars – 2008 Edition

Written by Nickel - 14 Comments

According to the recently released J.D. Power & Associates list of the most reliable cars of 2008, Lexus is the most dependable automotive brand. In fact, it wasn’t even that close, with Lexus logging over 20% fewer complaints per vehicle as compared to runner-up Mercury. The top ten list follows:

  1. Lexus
  2. Mercury
  3. Cadillac
  4. Toyota
  5. Acura
  6. Buick
  7. BMW
  8. Lincoln
  9. Honda
  10. Jaguar

Interestingly, Ford Motor Company nailed down three of the top ten spots with Mercury (#2), Lincoln (#8), and Jaguar (#10) all placing in the top ten. My personal favorite, Honda, slipped from 5th in 2007 to 9th in 2008.

Here’s a look at the top models by segment:

‘Regular’ Cars

  • Subcompact: Hyundai Accent
  • Compact: Toyota Prius
  • Midsize: Buick Century
  • Large: Ford Crown Victoria

Sporty Cars

  • Compact: Mazda Miata
  • Midsize: Chevy Monte Carlo

Premium cars

  • Entry: Lexus IS 300
  • Midsize: Lexus ES 330
  • Large: Lexus LS 430
  • Sporty: Lexus SC 430

Sport Utility Vehicles

  • Compact: Honda Element and Toyota RAV4 (tie)
  • Midsize: Toyota Highlander
  • Large: Toyota Sequoia

Pickup Trucks

  • Midsize: Ford Ranger
  • Large: Toyota Tundra

For the sake of comparison, Consumer Reports released their list of the most reliable cars for 2008 earlier this year. These rankings are broken down by type of vehicle, though the categories differ slightly from the J.D. Power rankings:

  • Family cars: Toyota Prius, Honda Accord (4-cyl), Ford Fusion (V6)
  • Large cars: Buick Lucerne (V8), Toyota Avalon, Dodge Charger (V6)
  • Small cars: Toyota Yaris Hatchback, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris Sedan
  • Minivans: Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Town & Country
  • Small SUVS: Honda Element, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru Forester (turbo)
  • Midsized SUVs: Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Toyota 4Runner
Published on August 11th, 2008 - 14 Comments
Filed under: Automotive

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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14 Responses to “Most Reliable Cars – 2008 Edition”

  1. 1
    ToughMoneyLove Says:

    This list explains why purchasing a slightly used Toyota or Honda (or Lexus if you want to move upscale) is such a sound financial move. I bought a certified used GS400 in 2004 (for $30k below its original sticker price) and it still runs and looks new.

  2. 2
    WiseMoneyMatters Says:

    Sweet. This makes me glad I bought a Toyota Corolla. I was leaning towards the Honda Civic, which still probably would have been a good choice, but this solidifies my decision. I’m also enjoying that I’m getting 36 MPG average according to the onboard computer.

  3. 3
    Mark Nelson Says:

    This list would have made my dad happy. He was a Ford man.

  4. 4
    Funny about Money Says:

    Interesting that Consumer Reports’ and J. D. Powers’ lists are so different. I wonder why?

    It’s nice to see someone thinks a few American cars are more or less reliable. But after so many bad experiences with Ford’s lemons over the years, it would take a lot to get me past my flinch reflex. My ex- has a Ford SUV, since the new wife has no fear…but it has stuff falling off it, very flimsily made. Six weeks after they bought the thing, the tires were recalled.

  5. 5
    nickel Says:

    FAM: Note that Ford themselves didn’t make the list, just some of their brands. However, many Ford and Mercury models are virtually identical, so it’s odd that one would make it and another wouldn’t. Perhaps it’s the Ford trucks that keep them off the list, as there aren’t equivalent Mercury models (that I’m aware of).

  6. 6
    Jim Says:

    Ford doesn’t own Jaguar…

  7. 7
    nickel Says:

    Jim: Ford owned Jaguar until March of 2008. Ford thus gets credit because the data come from the period during which Ford owned them.

  8. 8
    Budgets are Sexy. Says:

    I actually just sold my Toyota Highlander, but it was GREAT while i had it :) I’d recommend it to anyone looking around that class range. Only reason i sold it was to cut out our car payments and pick up a “beater” as my wife calls it (i call the caddy a classic, but whatever).

    Lists like these are fun to check out, so thanks!

  9. 9
    Scott @ The Passive Dad Says:

    I love my 2002 Toyota Prius and purchased this car based on consumer reports and many friends who are also happy with Toyota cars. I’m surprised a bit by the mercury #2 spot. I have to admit I don’t know any friends or family that own a mercury vehicle. I guess it’s a brand to consider when looking for another vehicle.

  10. 10
    TONY Says:

    I own a 2001 Jeep Cherokee (they are not manufactored anymore) and have owned it since December 2000. The Jeep brand never scored high but I am a firm believer in maintenance of your vehicle. If you properly maintain your vehicle, you will have less problems. Jeeps were never rated high, but I must say that I have not had any major (and only 2 minor problems) in my 7 years of owning these vehicle.

  11. 11
    Tim Says:

    Does anyone really put much stock into these ratings? The fact is, they depend on people actually doing the surveys. If your car is doing fine, chances are you aren’t going to do the survey. If I didn’t have mad cow, I could remember the study which sort of puts these consumer ratings into perspective.

  12. 12
    Its only me... Says:

    My 1992 Honda Civic is still intact! Basically nothing wrong but some paint scratches. Also, I expected BMW to be higher up on the list…what gives?

  13. 13
    danc Says:

    It makes me wonder why mercury was on the top since ford is the main composer of the other brands. the crown vic, and the ford fusion are the same base vehicle as the mercury ones listed. same engine and trans. It used to be a more touchy subject than what it is now, but why buy foreign when you can get parts for american made so much cheaper. With the way the economy is there is no reason to spend your money outside of this country. Just a thought.

  14. 14
    ALan Says:

    I agree that Lexus(Toyota) is on top, but in my personal opinion Honda sucks, and is overrated! Almost every automatic they have ever produced has failed! On carcomplaints.com Honda takes up 6 spots on the top 20 list, thats 30%. Honda is over praised, although they have great motors, it means nothing when the transmission is not good!

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