Vehicles Feature
Most-Reliable Luxury Cars 2006
Dan Lienert, 02.21.06, 12:30 AM ET

When David Murry prepped his Porsche 911 for 2004's One Lap of America race, he knew competitors would be bringing trailers full of spare parts, spare tires, tools and racing fuel. But Murry, a professional race car driver, brought only a tire-pressure gauge and some Windex to clean the windshield.

"It's a Porsche," he would say, according to his co-driver, Boston Globe auto columnist Royal Ford. "We don't need no stinkin' tools."

Calling themselves "Team Squeegee," Murry and Ford took third place in the race, which involves driving across the country as well as competing on racetracks.

Click here for the slide show.
This story illustrates how modern luxury cars can take care of themselves. While some luxury automakers, such as DaimlerChrysler's (nyse: DCX - news - people ) Mercedes-Benz and Ford Motor's (nyse: F - news - people ) Land Rover subsidiary, have endemic reliability problems, other upscale brands, such as Nissan Motor's (nasdaq: NSANY - news - people ) Infiniti subsidiary, are increasingly becoming known for quality.

The slide show that follows this introduction lists the 14 most-reliable luxury cars on the market, including Murry's favorite, the 911, which receives J.D. Power and Associates' highest marks for dependability. (Murry currently rides with Synergy Racing in the Grand AM GT Rolex Series, where he drives a Porsche 911 Supercup.) But the real story in the slide show is the dominance of Toyota Motor's (nyse: TM - news - people ) Lexus subsidiary, whose cars take up half of the slots in the slide show.

Lexus' LS flagship sedan, the oldest Lexus nameplate (along with the ES sedan), is the most-reliable luxury car on the market--the only one with top marks in quality and dependability from J.D. Power, as well as the highest possible "predicted reliability" rating from Consumer Reports.

Since its introduction in 1989, the LS has gone through three generations, and a fourth is due out sometime around October. Lexus says the LS has garnered more awards for quality than any other luxury car, and has won J.D. Power's Vehicle Dependability Index study every year it has been eligible.

But every Lexus vehicle except the ES sedan is in the slide show--a testament to what Lexus stands for. The company's old slogan was "The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection," and it wasn't just lip service.

While the company has world-renowned manufacturing methods, "the pursuit of perfection" is inculcated so vigorously into Toyota's corporate culture that Lexus' trademark reliability is engineered into cars before they ever hit the factories. Quality is monitored every step of the way. Failure is not accepted.

All major automakers build preproduction prototype models to iron out design, engineering and manufacturing wrinkles before mass production. In recent years, Toyota became known for building around one-tenth the amount of prototypes per production model that automakers such as General Motors (nyse: GM - news - people ) would. The only way Toyota and Lexus could do this was by learning to engineer parts that don't fail.

Toyota has built a reputation for constantly fine-tuning its engineering and design, but in our research, we were surprised to find that several other luxury cars compare favorably with Lexus models, despite being issued by companies that are hardly Toyota-like. Jaguars, for example, have always had the durability of potato chips, but the company's X-Type sedan and wagon are now receiving J.D. Power's highest marks for quality. Lincoln's Town Car sedan is another example of a top-rated luxury car from a parent company not known as a paragon of reliability.

For the X-Type, the Town Car and the other vehicles in the slide show, the ratings in question concern ratings for new models. In preparing our list, we excluded from consideration all nameplates that are headed for discontinuation.

Not every luxury car has reliability ratings. Such new cars as Audi's A3 hatchback need to be on the market longer in order for customers to generate information on problems the vehicles may be having. And such blue-blooded cars as Maybach and Bentley models tend not to have reliability ratings because their volumes are too low to make for effective studies.

The cars in the slide show received the highest marks from Consumer Reports or J.D. Power, or both. If we have cited a model as receiving top J.D. Power marks, that means all derivatives of the model received top marks. The difference between J.D. Power's "overall quality" and "overall dependability" scores is that "quality" concerns owner-reported problems in the first 90 days of ownership, and "dependability" concerns owner-reported problems after three years of ownership.

Please follow the link below to see the results of our research--to see what luxury cars you could race across the country without bringing any tools.

Click here for the slide show.
Editor's note: obtained reliability ratings from the Web sites of J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. At press time, J.D. Power had not confirmed the data in the slide show despite multiple e-mail requests from asking it to do so.

Link is here:;boxes=custom

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