Customers report that these SUV have the least problems in the first three years.
When your money is on the line for a used SUV, you want to know the vehicle you’re buying will be a reliable traveling companion years down the road.
Our In-Depth Reviews and Instrumented Tests give you a clear picture of what every new SUV has to offer, and we also run select models through our Long-Term Test program to see how they hold up during one year and 40,000 miles of abuse. But when we want information on how reliable a vehicle promises to be after several years in service, we turn to research firm J.D. Power.
Customer Feedback on Reliability
Power conducts an annual Vehicle Dependability Study that asks thousands of owners how their vehicle has performed three years after their initial purchase.The Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) covers a total of 177 potential problem areas. The results are presented in terms of issues per 100 vehicles. An Overall score of 100 means that a vehicle has an average of 100 issues per 100 vehicles, or an average of 1 per vehicle. Obviously, a lower score equates to fewer problems and better reliability.
The Overall scores for three-year-old vehicles will never be perfectly predictive of how reliable a brand-new, current-year model will be; manufacturers tend to improve the quality of their vehicles over time, but there are also some years when they slide backwards. If you're looking for a new SUV, we suggest cross-checking the VDS with Power's Initial Quality Study (IQS), which surveys customers on problems in the first 90 days of ownership. Industry insiders say it's a reasonably good predictor of a car's future score on the Dependability Study.
How We Chose These Vehicles
For a deeper check on a vehicle's reliability, the Power site enables you to look back beyond the latest VDS survey to previous years' results to see how the same model has done over time. For this review, we've done just that: We've assembled the 13 used SUVs that rank highest in dependability based on their Overall scores in their individual categories in the two most recent VDS studies, published in 2017 and 2018. Each of those surveys looks back three years, so the SUVs assembled here represent the most dependable ones from model years 2014 and 2015. As a group, what's most impressive is that every one of these vehicles averaged less than 100 issues per 100 vehicles - in other words, less than one issue per vehicle on average-after three years in service. That's how reliable SUVs have become.