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8 Most Dependable Cars of 2012

DETROIT ( MainStreet) -- The auto industry is making better vehicles than it has in at least two decades, with Toyota (TM - Get Report) and Ford (F - Get Report) winning honors for the most-top quality models.

In releasing the results of its 2012 vehicle dependability study, which considered 2009 vehicles, J.D. Power said dependability improved 13% from a year earlier, leading to the lowest problem rate since the inception of the study in 1990, when 1987 vehicles were measured.

The Buick Lucerne got the nod as best large car in J.D. Powers' latest reliability rankings.

The improvements in 2009 models came even though the year was, financially, one of the toughest in auto industry history.

J.D. Power said Lexus ranks highest in vehicle dependability among all nameplates in 2012. Rounding out the top five are Porsche, Cadillac, Toyota and Scion, respectively. Mini and Scion posted the greatest year-over-year improvements.

Overall, Toyota, along with its Lexus and Scion nameplates, won eight segment awards, while Ford, along with its Lincoln, won three. GM (GM - Get Report), with its Buick and Chevy, won two awards, as did Nissan (NSANY). Additionally, the Hyundai Genesis won its segment. Ties were recorded in two segments, bringing the total number of winners to 16.

The study, conducted between October and December, is based on responses from more than 31,000 original owners of 2009 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership. It measures problems experienced during the past 12 months. Overall dependability is determined by the level of problems experienced per 100 vehicles, with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

The overall dependability average in 2012 was 132 problems per 100 vehicles. This compares with last year's average of 151 problems per 100 vehicles.

These are the top eight cars. Next week, we will list the top eight crossovers and trucks.

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