There are several sources of automotive reliability ratings and opinions to choose from. Of course, none are perfect. So it's best to compare reports, statistics and judgments of the bunch, and then lean toward the agreed-upon quality vehicles.
Reviews don't usually tell us much about durability or the volume of repairs expected from a vehicle as mileage accumulates, aside from a few long-term road tests which you may find in publications such as Motor Trend, Truck Trend, Car and Driver and Road & Track. And you may have noticed that certain new car and truck reviews are basically advertisements (great reports on subpar vehicles to promote sales). But when you do come across an unbiased review, where a qualified automotive journalist is accurately critiquing a car or truck, stick with that writer and/or that publication.
Aside from the carmaker's engineers and executives examining the confidential warranty claim reports, no one knows how well vehicles hold up better than the automotive technicians at the dealership. These guys (and girls) know what breaks, how often, and which models to stay away from. The only problem is they typically work on a single brand. But if you're deciding between two makes, and there is a joint dealer selling the two, go speak with a technician working on both. It doesn't get any better than that. Technicians from independent auto repair shops can also be helpful, but they typically work on a high number of models which limits their expertise in any one make.
J.D. Power and Associates have been around since 1968, and they have all kinds of product awards to hand out. I'm sure you've seen manufacturers plug their J.D. Power merits while marketing vehicles in ads and TV commercials. These awards and ratings are based on, not expert opinion, but data accumulated through surveys. How scientifically formatted are these studies? Not quite sure. Most of the time their findings are realistic, but we have seen a few vehicles on top of a ratings list which, in our opinion, belonged closer to the bottom. Check out the J.D. Power Performance and Design, Initial Quality and Dependability Ratings on the vehicle you're researching.
If you have to pick one, we believe Consumer Reports is the best source of Vehicle Quality and Reliability Information. Like J.D. Power, Consumer Reports compiles data from surveys of car-buyers, although, in our opinion, CR information seems a bit more accurate. Consumer Reports is a non-profit organization, which deters influence from manufacturer perks. The big difference is, along with their survey statistics, CR tests and provides unbiased reviews of the products they evaluate. One drawback; Consumer Reports' information is not free. You have to buy print publications or pay a website access fee. RWA