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Auto Dependability Hits 22-Year High In New Study

Toyota and Ford won the most awards in the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, which came out today. Vehicles made by Toyota led the way with eight awards, while Ford models received three. In general, vehicle dependability was the best since the study first began in 1990, according to J.D. Power.

That's on the strength of a 13 percent gain from 2011 to 2012. The study compares the number of problems owners of three-year-old cars experience in the most recent 12-month span. This year's study carries particular importance, as it measures the three-year dependability of 2009 models — when the U.S. auto industry was in turmoil.

"Three years later, owners of these models are enjoying unprecedented levels of vehicle dependability and manufacturers are experiencing market recovery," J.D. Power Vice President David Sargent said on the firm's site. "This is good news both for owners — who are holding onto their vehicles for longer than ever — and manufacturers, since perception of quality and dependability is a critical factor in vehicle purchase decisions."

In terms of individual nameplates, Lexus, Porsche, Cadillac, Toyota and Scion were tops. U.S. carmakers improved at a slightly faster clip than their international rivals, J.D. Power says.

Ford's winners were the Explorer, the Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ. Toyota's eight award winners were the Prius, Sienna, Tundra and Yaris; along with the Lexus ES 350 (tied with the Lincoln MKZ) and Lexus RX 350, and two Scion cars, the tC and xB.

General Motors and Nissan each netted two awards, GM for the Buick Lucerne and Chevrolet Equinox, and Nissan for its Frontier and Murano. Out of all the brands measured, only six saw their dependability decline.

Here's a chart showing the full results:

The Detroit Free Press has more about the study, including an analysis of how GM, Ford and Chrysler performed.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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