Buick ties Lexus for No. 1 in car reliability

Survey finds Detroit brands making headway against Japanese competitors.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- For the first time in 12 years, Toyota's Lexus luxury brand has to share its top rank in J.D. Power and Associates' annual Vehicle Dependability Study.

And it has to share it with an American car.

Most dependable 2003 vehicles by market segment
Because brand rankings - for example Buick, Lexus, Mercury, etc. - are based on averages, not all top-ranked brands have specific top-ranked vehicles.
Sub-compact car Scion xA
Compact car Honda Civic
Compact sport car Mazda Miata
Midsize sporty car Chevrolet SSR/Ford Mustang (tie)
Mdisize car Buick Century
Large car Ford Crown Victoria
Compact premium sporty car Honda S2000
Entry premium car Infiniti I35
Midsize premium car Lexus GS
Large premium car Lexus LS
Premium sporty car Lexus SC
Compact SUV Toyota Rav4
Midsize SUV Oldsmobile Bravada
Large SUV Toyota Sequoia
Large Pickup Toyoya Tundra
Midsize pickup Toyota Tacoma
Van Oldsmobile Silhouette
Midsize premium SUV Lexus GX
Large premium SUV Lexus LX
Source:Source: J.D. Power and Associates

General Motors' Buick brand tied Lexus in the study, which measures the number of problems owners experience with their cars after three years of ownership.

Following Lexus and Buick in the rankings were GM's Cadillac luxury brand, Ford's Mercury brand and Honda's Honda brand.

Toyota's mass-market Toyota brand ranked sixth.

"Consumers don't necessarily need to pay premium prices to obtain high quality and dependability," said Neal Oddes, director of product research and analysis for J.D. Power and Associates.

"With three non-premium nameplates - Buick, Honda and Mercury - ranking within the top five," he said, "and particularly with Buick tying with Lexus for the top rank, consumers seeking a vehicle with strong dependability have good choices at various price levels."

J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from more than 53,000 original owners of 2004 model year vehicles.

Owners of the top-ranked Lexus and Buick vehicles experienced 145 problems per 100 vehicles. Owners of second-ranked Cadillac vehicles experienced 162 problems per 100 vehicles.

The lowest-ranking brand was Land Rover, Ford's European luxury SUV brand. Land Rover owners experienced 398 problems per 100 vehicles, according to the survey.

J.D. Power and Associates also ranked specific vehicles within their respective categories. The top-ranked sub-compact car, for example, was the Scion xA from Toyota's youth-oriented Scion brand.

The top-ranked compact car was the Honda Civic and the top-ranked Sporty car was the Mazda Miata.

The Chevrolet SSR, a low-slung convertible pickup, and the Ford Mustang tied as the most dependable midsize sporty cars, and the Ford Crown Victoria ranked as the most dependable large car.

Lexus vehicles topped five categories, more than any other brand. Lexus had the top-ranked premium SUV, large premium SUV, premium sporty car, large premium car and midsize premium car. Toyota's Toyota brand topped four categories. Top of page