8 Most Dependable Trucks and Utilities of 2012

DETROIT TheStreet) -- Toyota ( TM) may have had a difficult year in 2011, but the J.D. Power 2012 dependability study provides an indication of why the Japanese automaker has such an enviable reputation.

In the recently released study, which considered 2009 vehicles, Toyota came out ahead of its competitors. The Toyota, Lexus and Scion nameplates won eight segment awards, while Ford ( F), along with Lincoln, was second with three awards.
The Ford Explorer tied for best midsize crossover in the latest J.D. Power rankings.

Two GM ( GM) brands, Buick and Chevy, won two awards, as did Nissan ( NSANY). Lexus ranked highest among all nameplates. Rounding out the top five are Porsche, Cadillac, Toyota and Scion, respectively.

The pattern continued in the seven categories in the truck, utility and van sectors, where the three Toyota brands produced four winners and two runners-up, while Ford had two winners and two runners-up. Nissan also had two winners.

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 the 2011 average of 151 problems per 100 vehicles.

Last week, we listed the top eight cars. These are the top eight trucks, utility vehicles and vans:

Best compact multipurpose: Scion xB
The Scion xB had 113 problems per 100 vehicles. No other vehicles in its category were ranked.

The xB is built on the same platform as Toyota's Yaris compact, which J.D. Power ranked as the most dependable subcompact.

The 2009 xB got a slightly more rounded design than its predecessor, but grew by a foot in length and by 3 inches in width. It featured a more powerful engine, a new platform and a new interior with an upgraded audio system.

Best compact crossover SUV: Chevrolet Equinox
The Chevrolet brand had 135 problems per 100 vehicles, slightly above the average of 132. GM's only other winner was the most dependable large car, the Buick Lucerne.

Runners-up in the best compact category were the Honda ( HMC) CR-V and the Toyota RAV4, which had 121 parts per 100 vehicles. Only Toyota reported its results by vehicle.

The 2009 five-passenger Equinox added a few items as standard equipment that were previously optional. It was available in four models, including the Equinox Sport and Equinox LTZ. Two V-6 engine options were offered.

Best midsize crossover: Ford Explorer (tie)
The Ford brand had 124 problems per 100 vehicles, ranking eighth, just behind Lincoln, with 116.

Runner-up in the midsize crossover category was the Toyota Highlander, which had 111 parts per 100 vehicles.

The 2009 Explorer has a traditional body-on-frame chassis and could be configured with the standard V-8 engine or the V-8 and with a choice of rear or four-wheel drive. With the addition of a third-row seat, the Explorer can seat up to seven passengers.

Best midsize crossover: Nissan Murano (tie)
The Nissan brand had 152 problems per 100 vehicles.

In 2009 Nissan launched an all-new Murano on an updated platform with a revised 3.5-liter V-6 engine and second-generation Xtronic CVT transmission. Five models were available.

Best midsize premium crossover: Lexus RX 350
The Lexus RX 350 had 85 problem per 100 vehicles.

Runner-up was the Lincoln MKX.

The Lexus RX 350 provides seating for five. It has a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with front- or all-wheel drive. Six new exterior colors highlighted the changes for the 2009 model year.

Best midsize van: Toyota Sienna
Toyota Sienna had 123 problems per 100 vehicles.

Runner-up in the midsize van category was the Honda Odyssey.

The 2009 Sienna came in four models, all with the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission. Seating for eight passengers was optional, as was all-wheel drive.

Best midsize pickup: Nissan Frontier
Runners-up were the Ford Ranger and the Honda Ridgeline.

The Frontier was updated for 2009 with a new front fascia, grille, redesigned headlights and new wheels. It was offered with a choice of 4- or 6-cylinder engines, in king cab and crew cab body styles.

Best large pickup: Toyota Tundra
Tundra had 108 problems per 100 vehicles.

Runners-up were the GMC Sierra HD and Chevrolet Silverado LD.

Toyota's Tundra competes in an arena traditionally dominated by traditional domestic automakers. Like its competition, the Tundra offers a choice of passenger cabins, option packages, bed sizes, 6- and 8-cylinder gasoline engines and rear- or 4-wheel-drive.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/tedreednc.

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