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2018 Vehicle Dependability Study: Most Dependable Small Cars

2018 Vehicle Dependability Study: Most Dependable Small Cars

By Christian Wardlaw, February 14, 2018
When J.D. Power conducts the research that goes into the annual Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), the company surveys thousands of original owners of 3-year-old vehicles. Based on the collected data, J.D. Power discovers what has gone right and what has gone wrong each make and model, and reports the findings in the VDS.

Power Circle Ratings are derived from this data, and are designed to provide consumers with a visual summary of the study’s discoveries. Each rating reflects how dependable a particular car, SUV, minivan, or truck is likely to be based on what owners of the vehicle have shared with J.D. Power. Using Power Circle Ratings, consumers can make smarter choices when buying a used vehicle.

According to the data collected for the 2018 VDS, this Most Dependable Small Cars guide includes those 2015 model-year vehicles that receive a Power Circle Rating of 4 or 5 out of a possible 5 for vehicle dependability after three years of ownership.

2015 Buick Verano

A compact sedan based on the same platform as the Chevrolet Cruze, the Buick Verano was styled and equipped to compete as a premium offering along the lines of the Acura ILX, Audi A3, and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. Available with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder or a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, the Verano even offered a manual gearbox in a bid to appeal to driving enthusiasts. No changes were made in 2015, aside from making a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot standard equipment.

The 2015 Buick Verano receives a Vehicle Dependability Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5.

2015 Chevrolet Sonic

Infused with personality, the Chevrolet Sonic is one of the safer choices in the small car segment, and came in both 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback body styles. A 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine came standard in LS and LT trim, while a turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder with the same power but more torque was included with LTZ and RS trim. In 2015, the latter engine was a new standard feature for LTZ trim, while all Sonics could be fitted with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.

The 2015 Chevrolet Sonic receives a Vehicle Dependability Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2015 Kia Forte

Three different Forte models are available, depending on your needs and preferences. The most common is the 4-door sedan in LX or EX trim. Next up is the Forte5 hatchback, in EX or SX trim. The whimsically named Forte Koup is a 2-door coupe offered in EX or SX trim. A 145-horsepower 4-cylinder is standard for the LX sedan, while all EX versions get a 173-hp 4-cylinder. Upgrade to SX trim for a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Kia made few changes to the Forte for 2015.

The 2015 Kia Forte receives a Vehicle Dependability Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2015 Kia Rio

A small, entry-level car, the Rio came in 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback body styles and in LX, EX, and SX trim levels. Each came with a 138-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine, among the most powerful in the segment, and the SX trim added a sport-tuned suspension, larger front brakes, paddle shifters, and big 17-inch wheels and tires. While the Kia Rio is reliable, be sure to check its crash-test ratings before buying one.

The 2015 Kia Rio receives a Vehicle Dependability Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5, and receives an award in the Small Car category.

2015 Nissan Leaf

Nissan’s electric 5-door hatchback is a dependable choice, sensible for people who have highly predictable driving patterns and who are unlikely to suffer range anxiety – the panic associated with dwindling driving range and uncertain access to a vehicle charger. Offered in S, SV, and SL trim levels, each 2015 Leaf gained standard features for the model year.

The 2015 Nissan Leaf receives a Vehicle Dependability Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5.

2015 Nissan Versa

Nissan’s entry-level 4-door sedan (Versa) and 5-door hatchback (Versa Note) share a name, but are substantially different from one another. Both versions of the Versa are remarkably roomy for the small car segment, however, delivering plenty of utility and efficiency at an affordable price. Crash-test ratings, however, leave something to be desired. For 2015, the Versa sedan received a freshening, while the Versa Note hatch gained sporty SR and uplevel SL trims. All Versas added standard equipment for the model year.

The 2015 Nissan Versa receives a Vehicle Dependability Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2015 Toyota Prius

A 5-door hatchback equipped with a gas-electric hybrid or a plug-in hybrid powertrain, the Toyota Prius is what people think of when they picture a hybrid car in their heads. The 2015 model year was the third-generation Prius’s last before a complete redesign, so Toyota left it well enough alone. The only change was a new Persona Series special edition based on the Three trim level.

The 2015 Toyota Prius receives a Vehicle Dependability Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5, and receives an award in the Compact Car category.

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