Dependability is at the top of most car shoppers' lists and is also one of the most vital criteria for automakers to keep customers loyal to their brand. Because of the weight that dependability rankings carry, J.D. Power conducts owner surveys to rate vehicles based on several dependability factors and awards the top performers by segment. This month, J.D. Power released the results of the 2019 study with a summary of the brands and vehicles that ranked the highest. 

reliability rankings
In addition to awarding individual vehicles, J.D. Power rates brands for their overall reliability.

For the industry as a whole, the results are promising. Overall dependability on 3-year-old vehicles improved by 4% over last year with some brands standing apart from the pack when it comes to staying problem-free. While Lexus was awarded the title of the most dependable brand, when it comes to awards per segment, General Motors led with five and Toyota followed with four. We take a look at the dependability winners among SUVs of different size categories to help you decide which model will give you the features you need minus the hassle of constant repairs. 

Dependability Criteria

VW Tiguan Engine
A problem-free engine like the Volkswagen Tiguan's contributes to its high rating. (image: Volkswagen)

J.D. Power measures dependability based on four factors including Overall Dependability, Powertrain, Body and Interior and Features and Accessory. The results are based on responses from 32,952 original owners of vehicles purchased new in 2016 after three years of ownership.

  • Overall Dependability: based on problems that have caused a complete breakdown of a component, feature or item in a vehicle
  • Powertrain: based on problems with the engine or transmission as well as overall driving experience
  • Body and Interior: based on problems with the vehicle's exterior, seats and interior issues like seatbelt malfunction, wind noise, and leaks. 
  • Features and Accessory: based on problems with controls and displays, audio, infotainment, and HVAC

Vehicles from each segment and size category are ranked based on a scoring legend of "Among the Best", "Better than Most", "Above Average" and a lackluster "The Rest". Based on the results of the owner surveys, these are the SUVs that have stayed on the road since 2016 with the fewest issues.

1. Most Dependable Small SUV: Volkswagen Tiguan

2016 VW Tiguan
The 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan is still going strong 3 years later. (image: Volkswagen)

Taking the top spot in the small SUV category is the Volkswagen Tiguan. Whether you go with a new model or one from a few years back, you can drive confidently knowing Tiguan owners rarely experience issues with their SUV. The 2016 model comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine which is potent enough to put some pep into this little crossover. Inside, you'll find premium materials such as standard leatherette upholstery and heatest seats as well as an updated infotainment system with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay newly added for 2016. 

Average Price for a 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan: $13,797 - $20,023

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2. Most Dependable Compact SUV: Chevrolet Equinox

2016 Chevy Equinox
Owners of the 2016 Equinox get a spacious interior and a smooth, trouble-free ride. (image: Chevrolet)

If you need more passenger and cargo space in addition to a great dependability rating, the Chevy Equinox is worth a look. It rose to the top of the competitive compact SUV segment by nailing all the interior, exterior, and performance dependability criteria. The 2016 Equinox outperformed its competitors after three problem-free years on the road. It offers a smooth and quiet ride, a spacious interior and technology and safety features that will hold up over time. For upgrades including navigation, sunroof, and a power tailgate, you'll want to bypass the most basic L trim and go up to the LT at a minimum. 

Average Price for a 2016 Chevrolet Equinox: $14,981 - $21,207

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3. Most Dependable Midsize SUV: Hyundai Santa Fe

2016 hyundai santa fe
Buying a used Hyundai Santa Fe is a smart choice thanks to its reliability rankings. (image: Hyundai)

There are many benefits to buying a used Hyundai Santa Fe and solid dependability is no exception. 2016 Santa Fe owners reported the fewest problems with the exterior, interior, and performance for the midsized segment. You can choose from a two-seat or three-seat configuration, though the third row may seem cramped and will shrink the available cargo space. A powerful turbocharged 4-cylinder engine or V6 option in addition to an upscale cabin make this vehicle a popular go-to for families who want worry-free performance and comfort.  

Average Price for a 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe: $16,607 - $26,756

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4. Most Dependable Large SUV: Ford Expedition

2016 Ford Expedition
The Expedition is the big winner for the dependable large SUV category. (image: Ford)

The Ford Expedition stands at the top of the large SUV podium in dependability after three years which means buying a used 2016 Expedition gives you an excellent value for your money. The Expedition offers the passenger space of a 3-row SUV along with truck-like capability. You'll find plentiful space in all three rows, a towing capacity of 6,600 pounds which outperforms comparable models, and seemingly endless cargo space. A twin-turbo 365-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 gives this land barge enough power for highways, hauling and towing. 

Average Price for a 2016 Ford Expedition: $27,640 - $41,538

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