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Reliable used cars - News: When considering the purchase of a car, buyers are faced with a dilemma: New or used. Buying new means taking an immediate drop in value the minute the tires hit the street, but having the peace of mind of owning a new car with no hidden problems from the previous user. Buying used you can dodge the depreciation bullet, but risks picking up someone else’s lemon. To help alleviate the stress of this decision, J.D. Power and Associates performs an annual Vehicle Dependability Study that should give consumers more peace of mind if they decide to go the used route. Here is a list of what they found to be the 19 most dependable cars by category.
Photo credit: Automakers
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Independent market research firm J.D. Power & Associates released the findings of its 2007 Vehicle Dependability Study, which measures problems experienced by 53,000 original owners of 2004 model year vehicles. The top five brands in the study were, in order: Buick, Lexus, Cadillac, Mercury and Honda. Hummer posted the most improvement, though still ranks below the industry average. The least dependable brands in the study were, in order: Land Rover, Suzuki, Isuzu, Saab, and Volkswagen.
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Scion xA: Sub Compact Car
Making its debut in 2004, Scion debunks the theory stating: “Never buy the first year of a new model.” With Scion, Toyota brought affordability and personalization together, capturing the attention of the young and hip. The trouble will be weeding out the dependability-proven factory customized models from the cheaper aftermarket ones.
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Honda Civic: Compact Car
Honda built its reputation for reliability on the strengths of the Honda Civic, so it’s no surprise that it tops the compact car category. In 2004, the popular Civic was offered as a coupe, sedan, or sporty Si hatchback, in several levels of trim. Avoid Civics that have been modified (usually poorly) with aftermarket performance parts.
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Mazda Miata: Compact Sporty Car
One of the purest expressions of a sports car on today’s market, the Mazda Miata is terrific fun to drive, inexpensive to buy, and extremely dependable. It’s a two-seater with a small trunk, but there’s enough room for two on a weekend road trip. The top is easy to use, and Miatas get about 25 mpg combined. We highly recommend this car.
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Chevrolet SSR: Midsize Sporty Car (Tie)
The 2004 SSR is pricey and has truck-like styling with a rear tonneau cover making it a niche car that would fit better into a category of its own. The 2004 model is the last year it came with the 5.3 Liter 300 horsepower Vortec motor before switching to the 390 horsepower LS2 Corvette engine in 2005. Chevy’s fat-fendered head-turner tends to be owned by nostalgia stricken older men so finding an unmolested one in good shape should be no problem.
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Ford Mustang: Midsize Sporty Car (Tie)
Tied with the Chevrolet SSR for reliability and fun factor, the Mustang attracts both young and mature buyers, promising nostalgia for dads and hoonage for the youngsters – at least in V-8 versions. Engine options range from the 190 horsepower 3.8 L V-6 to the 260 horsepower, 302 cu. in. engine in the Cobra badged edition. 2004 is the last year of this body style and Ford has had ten years to perfect it, so anything other than dependable would be inexcusable.
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Buick Century: Midsize Car
The Century is comfortable up front, a little tight in back, and nicely styled. But other than that, this is really not a stand out year for the car. This incarnation has been around since 1997, and it was announced in 2004 that it would be discontinued in 2005, to be replaced by the LaCrosse. Since it went unchanged, the same reliability should be found in the 2005 model as well. Try to buy from an original owner – many are former rental cars.
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Ford Crown Victoria: Large Car
A staple among law enforcement agencies and taxi cab companies across the nation, the Crown Vic has proven itself through some of the most tortuous driving conditions around. A used one will treat you well as long as it hasn’t worked in one of these jobs all its life. Avoid the service fleets: remember, it’s not just the miles, it’s the hours spent idling as well. Service cars always have more wear and tear than they show.
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Honda S2000: Compact Premium Sport Car
With its harsh ride, the Honda S2000 is an acquired taste but worth it to those seeking performance. To extract maximum fun, you’ve gotta be willing to rev the engine to maximum rpm, and that means many used S2000’s have been wrung out on more than one occasion. Choose a low-mileage example from a mature owner or a certified-used S2000 that carries some protection from Honda. Avoid modified S2000s owned by people under 25 years of age.
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Infiniti I35: Entry Premium Car
2004 marks the last year of the Infiniti I-Series in the U.S. Produced in limited numbers, the reason for dropping it is that it was replaced by the M-Series. Due to the smaller number of these vehicles a 2004 I35 may be a bit harder to come by, but well worth the hunt.
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Lexus GS: Midsize Premium Car
Like any Lexus, the second-generation GS provides a top-notch interior materials and comfortable seats. You’ll marvel at how simplicity, elegance, and luxury create a sanctuary from life’s daily grind. It might not deliver the driving thrills of a BMW, but it almost makes the evening commute something to look forward to. The 2004 GS came with a 3.0 L I-6, or a 4.3 L V-8. HID headlamps are standard on the V-8.
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Lexus LS: Large Premium Car
When Lexus first debuted the LS 400 in 1990, German luxury automakers scoffed at the idea of a credible Japanese luxury sedan. They aren’t laughing anymore. It seems Americans want a comfortable, dependable vehicle no matter how much money they’re spending, and the now-Lexus LS 430 delivers. In fact, BMW and Mercedes-Benz aren’t even in the top three for the category.
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Lexus SC 430: Premium Sporty Car
Good looks and a power retractable hard top guaranteed Lexus another spot, New for 2004, the SC was also available in a Pebble Beach version which was limited to a production run of only 400. Power hard tops keep interiors fresh longer making this used convertible stand out from ragtop competitors.
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Toyota RAV4: Compact Utility Vehicle
Toyota’s RAV4 is one fun little ride with good fuel economy. Big enough for four adults, the RAV4’s space is spare, but the cargo area is deep and roomy. The main detriment is a tailgate that swings to the side, making it hard to load from the curb.
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Oldsmobile Bravada: Midsize Utility Vehicle
The Bravada is one of two Oldsmobiles that made the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Vehicle Dependability Study. Most Oldsmobiles were rebadges of other GM vehicles, with sheet metal variations arguably not as appealing to the masses as their other GM counterparts. That hint of “ugly duckling” perception also makes them a steal in the marketplace.
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Toyota Sequoia: Large Utility Vehicle
For the soccer team or family camp out, look no further – as long as towing is not on the agenda, the Suburban or Yukon would b better suited for that arena. For 2004, Toyota’s heavyweight came with a 240 horsepower 4.7 L V-8 mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission – the last year of this combination giving way to a 5-speed automatic and a bump of 33 more horsepower in 2005.
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Toyota Tundra: Large Pickup
Though it proves durable, there are problems with the Toyota Tundra. It’s a little bit smaller than the full-size trucks from Chevy, Dodge, Ford, and GMC. Its 4.7-liter V8 is less powerful than the top engines in other trucks, limiting the Tundra’s towing capacity. If these aren’t issues for you, then the Tundra makes a smart used truck buy.
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Toyota Tacoma: Midsize Pickup
This compact pickup is available in every combination from a 4-cylinder, 2-door no-frills workhorse to a 4x4 Double Cab V6. Avoid 4x4 models with lots of bangs and bumps to the under carriage as well as models that served as work trucks. A higher mileage truck that has never been off pavement is always a better bet than a low mileage on with lots of battle scars underneath.
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Oldsmobile Silhouette: Van
The Silhouette is a 7-passenger minivan available in 5 trims in 2 or AWD. The Olds minivan was also available in short and long wheel base versions. As the gawky little sister to the Chevrolet Venture it comes in at a bargain in comparison. This is a family van, so watch for lollipops stuck under the seat or similar child induced wear and tear issues.
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Lexus GX: Midsize Premium UTILITY VEHICLE
We recommend buying a Lexus GX 470 only if you plan to travel off-road, despite the fact that it wins this category. It’s a beefy, ill-handling beast slathered in typical Lexus luxury and refinement that cannot hide its go-anywhere roots. If you’re just tooling around town, try the Lexus RX 300 instead. It’s a much better pavement pounder. And if you want something truly fun and functional, get the Infiniti FX.
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Lexus LX: Large Premium UTILITY VEHICLE
The 2004 Toyota Sequoia made it on to the list so it only makes sense that its sibling the 2004 Lexus LX should as well. With 50 more horsepower than the Sequoia, and loads more comfort and convenience items into the interior, this is the choice for those wanting more than the Sequoia offers and can afford to pay more as well.
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