Mechanic looking under car
Richard Drury/Getty Images

When you’re searching for the most dependable cars, one of the best places to start is with J.D. Power and Associates. For almost 30 years, they have been putting out their U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) and this year is no exception.

This time, the 2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study has surveyed 36,896 original owners of 2015 model-year cars after three years of ownership. Many cars were awarded top honors in dependability in this year’s study and our focus is on the top 9. As a group, these vehicles are more friendly to the driver’s wallet and less friendly to the mechanic’s. Furthermore, all 9 have received high marks in overall dependability from the J.D. Power study.

If you’re looking for good, reliable cars, you might want to consider the following winners we’ve highlighted in our round-up:

1. Dodge Challenger (Top-rated midsize sporty car)

  • Overall quality rating: 5 out of 5
  • Overall performance and design rating: 5 out of 5

Topping our list of the most reliable cars is the Dodge Challenger. While it may not have been in J.D. Power’s top brand category, it makes the top of our rundown of reliable cars because of its overall performance and design. While you won’t be reaching hybrid levels of fuel efficiency with the SRT variant, the 6.4 liter Hemi V-8 does feature an EPA-rated 25 mpg on the highway. Combine that with the sleek, stylish handling and you have a car made for performance but user-friendly enough for the casual driver.

2. Hyundai Tucson (Top-rated small SUV)

  • Overall quality rating: 5 out of 5
  • Overall performance and design rating: 4 out of 5

When it comes to the dependable cars, the Hyundai Tucson is next on our list. Not only do all variants feature standard Bluetooth connectivity (for audio streaming), the Tucson GLS can come with 4.3-in. touch-screen infotainment system with a reversing camera. As far as reliable cars go, the Tucson Limited is expected to get 21 mpg (driving in the city) and 28 mpg on the highway.

3. Kia Rio (Top-rated small car)

  • Overall quality rating: 4 out of 5
  • Overall performance and design rating: 4 out of 5

The Kia Rio is one of the most reliable cars in the small car category for a number of reasons. We can start with the fact that the EPA estimates a rate of 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway (regardless of transmission). The Rio EX can also come with an Idle Stop & Go system which shuts off the engine whenever you’re idling at an intersection or in traffic. This can improve your city mileage to 28 mpg while putting less wear and tear on the engine, helping make it quite a dependable car.

4. Lexus ES 350 (Top-rated compact premium car)

  • Overall quality rating: 5 out of 5
  • Overall performance and design rating: 3 out of 5

The ES 350 is powered by a 3.5L V6 engine mated with a 6-speed sequential shift automatic. What this means – and why it makes our list of good, reliable cars – is fuel efficiency with intuitive, automatic shifting. Furthermore, the V6 generates 268 horsepower and delivers an estimated 21 mpg (city) and 31 mpg on the highway.

5. 2015 Chevrolet Malibu (Top-rated midsize car)

  • Overall quality rating: 5 out of 5
  • Overall performance and design rating: 2 out of 5

Some car connoisseurs have asked us “are Chevys good cars?” To answer that question, we come to the Chevrolet Malibu. The Malibu made it onto the list of reliable cars in 2016 and it makes a triumphant return in 2018. What’s new? For starters, Siri Eyes Free capability as well as text-messaging alerts through MyLink radio. You can also turn your Chevrolet Malibu into a Wi-Fi hotspot with OnStar-enabled 4G LTE.

6. 2015 Lexus GS (Top-rated midsize premium car)

  • Overall quality rating: 4 out of 5
  • Overall performance and design rating: 2 out of 5

Of course, we can’t put together this year’s rundown of reliable cars without mentioning the Lexus GS. Coming standard with rear-wheel drive and adaptive suspension, the Lexus GS handles better than most when it comes to the open road. That means less wear and tear and a smoother ride, making this midsize model one of the most dependable cars.

7. Lexus CT 200h (Top-rated small premium car)

  • Overall quality rating: 3 out of 5
  • Overall performance and design rating: 2 out of 5

The Lexus CT is the third and final Lexus on our roundup of reliable cars (though four actually made it onto the 2018 Vehicle Dependability Study). This Lexus is a full hybrid with an Atkinson-cycle 1.8L 4-cylinder engine and an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. That means you’ll get great gas mileage both in the city (43 mpg) and the highway (40 mpg).

8. Toyota Prius (Top-rated compact car)

  • Overall quality rating: 2 out of 5
  • Overall performance and design rating: 2 out of 5

Let’s face it, the original Toyota Prius is what set the standard for hybrids in the American car market. Fast forward to 2018 and owners of the 2015 Toyota Prius are still touting it as an efficient and dependable car. Most of this can be attributed to the full hybrid drivetrain allowing for engine only, battery only, or a combination of the two. It’s great for when you need to save on gas and versatile enough to give you that extra mile when gas stations are few and far between.

9. Buick LaCrosse (Top-rated large car)

  • Overall quality rating: 2 out of 5
  • Overall performance and design rating: 2 out of 5

Last on our list of highlights but certainly not least, the Buick LaCrosse is reliability made manifest. Not only was the 2015 Buick LaCrosse rated 5 stars out of 5 for over safety (by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), it sports a 3.6-liter conventional V-6 engine. That’s enough power to ensure your Buick goes the distance.

If you’re in the market for a car you can depend on, there are 9 great places to start looking. You can also use our auto loan calculator to help you determine which of these cars will work with your budget.