DETROIT (

TheStreet

) -- The No. 1 brand in this year's J.D. Power vehicle dependability study was

Ford's

(F) - Get Report

Lincoln, which led for the first time in the history of the closely-watched study.

Among the 50 vehicles, both cars and others, that the firm rated,

Toyota

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received the most awards with seven. Ford was second with four. (The Lincoln nameplate, counted separately, had two awards, while Lexus and Scion had two each.)

Meanwhile, the various

GM

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nameplates accumulated six awards.

Overall, vehicle dependability has improved from 2010, with automakers succeeding in reducing problem rates in many traditional areas, but challenges remain in overcoming problems with newer technologies and features, J.D. Power said.

The perception of quality and dependability is considered the most influential factor in a consumer's decision to purchase a specific new vehicle model.

The study measures problems experienced during the past twelve months by original owners of three-year-old (2008 model year) vehicles. The study reviews 202 problem symptoms across all areas of the vehicle. The study, conducted in the fourth quarter of 2010, is based on responses from more than 43,700 of these owners.

The survey charts dependability by the level of problems experienced per 100 vehicles. The average rating in 2011 was 151 problems per 100 vehicles. Lincoln led with 101 problems per 100 vehicles.

Here are the top ten cars in the 2011 survey. In the near future,

TheStreet

will present the list of the top ten vehicles among trucks, crossovers, SUVs and multipurpose vehicles.

Honda Fit

The

Honda

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Fit was the most dependable rated sub-compact car.

Three Honda products -- Acura RL, Honda CR-V and Honda Fit -- received awards. Overall, the Honda brand had 139 problems per 100 vehicles.

Toyota Yaris and Hyundai Accent were also named as top cars in the sub-compact category.

The 2011 Honda Fit was also

selected the best budget car by

Consumer Reports.

Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius was the most dependable compact car.

Overall, the Toyota brand had 122 problems per 100 vehicles, ranking fifth in the survey.

The Hyundai Elantra Sedan and the Toyota Matrix were also named as top cars in the compact category. The 2011 Elantra was selected as the top small car by

Consumer Reports.

The 2011 Prius was ranked the best green car by

Consumer Reports.

Mazda Miata

The Mazda MX5 Miata was the most dependable compact sporty car.

Overall, the Mazda brand had 181 problems per 100 vehicles.

The Scion tC was also named as a top car in the compact sporty car category.

Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang was the most dependable midsized sporty car.

Overall, the Ford brand had 140 problems per 100 vehicles, ranking 12th.

The 2011 Mustang was selected as the top sporty car by

Consumer Reports.

J.D. Power noted that while domestic brands have closed the gap with import brands in initial quality, import brands continue to outperform domestic brands by 18 problems per 100 vehicles.

Domestic brand cars have fewer problems than import brand cars -- domestics have 135 problems per 100, while imports have 147 problems per 100 -- but the trucks and crossovers produced by domestic manufacturers have more problems than import manufacturers' vehicles.

Other than the Mustang, no other midsize sporty cars won awards.

Ford Fusion

The Ford Fusion was the most dependable midsize car.

In February, the Fusion set a monthly sales record of 23,111, up 40%,

The Buick LaCrosse and the Mitsubishi Gallant were also named as top cars in the mid-size category.

Buick Lucerne

The Buick Lucerne was the most dependable large car.

As a brand, Buick had 125 problems per hundred vehicles, making it the second highest ranking U.S. nameplate after Lincoln.

The Ford Taurus and the Chevrolet Impala were also named as top cars in the large car category.

Mercedes Benz CL K-Class

Mercedes Benz CL K-Class was the most dependable compact premium sporty car.

As a brand, Mercedes had 128 problems per hundred vehicles.

No other compact premium sporty cars won awards.

Lincoln MKZ

The Lincoln MKZ was the most dependable entry premium car.

In 2011, Lincoln improved by 13 problems per 100 vehicles.

The only other cars named in the category were imports: the Lexus ES 350 was second, while the Acura TL tied with the Acura TSX for third.

Acura RL

As a brand, Acura ranked sixth in the survey, with 123 problems per 100 vehicles.

The Acura RL was the most dependable midsize premium car.

The Mercedes Benz E-Class and the Lexus GS were also named as top cars in the midsize premium car category.

Cadillac DTS

The Cadillac DTS was the most dependable large premium car.

The DTS had had 90 problems per 100 vehicles, the fewest of any vehicle in its class for the second year in a row, GM said, adding that for six straight years, the DTS and its predecessor, the DeVille, have earned a spot in the top three of the large premium car segment in the vehicle dependability study.

As a brand, Cadillac ranked ninth in the survey, with 130 problems per 100 vehicles.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte

.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here:

Ted Reed