The Most Dependable SUVs and Least Dependable

With the average price of a new SUV over $40,000, it’s important to have one that is dependable. But how do you know which SUVs you can count on to last?

J.D. Power has released its 2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. The company surveyed more than 30,000 vehicle owners where they shared their experiences with their vehicles. The results showed good news for SUV owners.

Based on the study, vehicle dependability is at an all-time high. 2020 vehicles had 10% fewer problems than 2018 models. So let’s get to it and look at what the study found for the SUV vehicle segment dependability winners.

The Most Dependable Small SUVs

Buick Encore

Hyundai Tucson


Kia Sportage

The Most Dependable Small Premium SUVs

Mercedes-Benz GLA

Audi Q3

The Most Dependable Compact SUVs

Toyota RAV4

Subaru Forester

Buick Envision

You can learn more about compact SUV models here.

The Most Dependable Compact Premium SUVs

Lexus NX

Lincoln MKC

The MKC was discontinued after the 2019 model year in favor of the Lincoln Corsair.

Porsche Macan

The Macan Turbo is also one of the fastest SUVs on the market.

The Most Dependable Midsize SUVs

Toyota Highlander

Ford Edge

Kia Sorento

You can learn more about three-row crossover models here.

The Most Dependable Midsize Premium SUVs

Cadillac XT4

The XT4 also made our most American made SUVs list.

Lexus RX

The Most Dependable Large SUVs

Chevrolet Suburban

GMC Yukon

Chevrolet Tahoe

You can learn more about full-size SUV models here.

The Most Dependable Large Premium SUVs

Lexus GX

The Most Dependable SUV Models

In the study, a total of 20 SUV models were recognized as the most dependable in their vehicle segments. This is out of more than 100 SUV models on the U.S. market.

There are other studies available on vehicle reliability. In Consumer Reports‘ 2021 reliability survey, their results showed that the Lexus NX, Buick Encore, and Lexus GX were the top three most reliable SUVs.

These three models are developing a strong record showing their reliability. They were also 2021 J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Survey segment award winners for dependability.

The Most Dependable Automakers

The automakers that ranked highest in the study in terms of reported problems per 100 vehicles were as follows:

1. Lexus – 81 problems per 100 vehicles
2. Porsche – 86 problems per 100 vehicles
3. Kia – 97 problems per 100 vehicles
4. Toyota – 98 problems per 100 vehicles
5. (tie) Buick – 100 problems per 100 vehicles
5. (tie) Cadillac – 100 problems per 100 vehicles

The overall auto industry average was 121 problems per 100 vehicles.

The Least Dependable Cars

The least dependable automakers in the study were luxury automakers: Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, Tesla (not official as limited data), and Land Rover. Land Rover had the worst dependability and a lofty finding of 244 problems per 100 vehicles.

Not all luxury automakers fared poorly in this dependability study. Lexus, Porsche, Buick, and Cadillac all finished in the top 6 for most dependable vehicles.

Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury line, Lincoln, Acura, and BMW all scored above average and were within eight points of fifth place Cadillac.

The Least Dependable SUVs

Land Rover only makes SUVs so that would make their models the least dependable SUVs based on the study. Their models are:

  • Defender
  • Discovery
  • Discovery Sport
  • Evoque
  • Range Rover
  • Range Rover Sport
  • Velar

Land Rover’s can be quite luxurious and are formidable off-road. But they can also be problematic.

The Range Rover SVAutobiography made our list of most expensive SUVs and also is a popular celebrity SUV.

What Factors Were Considered

The J.D. Power study collects data on reported vehicle owner problems in 177 specific issues, which are grouped into eight major vehicle categories. They are:

  • Controls and displays
  • Driving experience
  • Engine and transmission
  • Exterior
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
  • Infotainment, communications and navigation systems
  • Interior
  • Seats

How Vehicles Were Rated

Based on the specific issues reported by vehicle owners, the J.D. Power study evaluates vehicles and automakers on the number of problems per 100 vehicles.

It was also broken down among vehicle segments. Sedans were found to be the most dependable vehicle type with 111 problems per 100 vehicles, SUVs came in second at 122 problems, and trucks were the worst with 130 problems per 100 vehicles.

The Most Common Vehicle Problems

When you think of vehicle problems, you probably think of mechanical issues. The good news is that new SUV models rarely have mechanical troubles.

The problem areas are in the technology, the driver assistance systems, and the infotainment system. Not only can the technology be problematic, but vehicle owners can be confused about how to operate the systems or don’t like the way they work.

Dependability Saves You Money

Dependability is also a positive for finances. In addition, to keep vehicle repair and maintenance costs down, dependable vehicles can also have higher resale values. Toyota fared well in this regard in our look at the best and worst resale value SUVs.

Do you have a newer SUV that’s had dependability issues? We want to hear from you. Leave a comment below and share your experience.

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