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Bankrate's 2007 New Car Guide
Dollar$ & $en$e
Status and styling aside, many car-buying decisions boil down to bucks and budgets.
Dollar$ & $en$e
Top 5 most reliable cars

Sure, that shiny new car looks good on the showroom floor, but if you can't trust it to get you where you are going, what good is it?

Lucky for you, vehicles are more reliable now than ever before. But that doesn't mean everything that shines is trustworthy. So, before you hit the new car lot, it might pay to take a look at what is likely to run like a top for 200,000 miles, and what will leave you with the sour taste of lemon in your mouth.

Top 5 most reliable cars
1. Buick
1. Lexus (tie)
3. Cadillac
4. Mercury
5. Toyota

There are really two ways to look at a vehicle's reliability, says Philip Reed, consumer advice editor for automotive resource Edmunds.com.

"First and most important is does it break down and leave you stranded?" he says.

Because, no matter how good a car looks, or how many bells and whistles it has, it is primarily a mode of transportation. And if you can't trust it to get you from point A to point B, it fails in the most basic test of reliability.

The good news, he says, is that in most cases, new cars rarely leave their owners stranded roadside anymore.

"It's been pretty amazing the advances the automakers have been able to make in terms of longevity," he says. "It used to be that 100,000 miles was the end of a car, but now it is not uncommon to see double that, or more."

On the other hand, just because a car never breaks down doesn't mean it is reliable. And that is the second, less easily measured standard of reliability: Are small things constantly breaking and falling apart? And if that is the case, you may have a trusty ride, but you are not likely to be very satisfied with your purchase.

It is tempting to think that if you want a reliable car, you have to shell out a year's pay. But according to the J.D. Power & Associates Vehicle Dependability Study, that might not be the case anymore.

That study looked at the number of problems reported by 53,000 original owners of 2004-model-year cars to see how well they held up over time. And, predictably, the top automaker in terms of reliability continued to be Toyota's luxury brand, Lexus -- a title the automaker has held for more than a decade.

The surprise from that study, however, was that the gap in long-term quality between luxury and nonluxury brands has been cut in half during the past four years.

-- Posted: Oct. 11, 2007
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