Don't Worry, Drive Happy: 15 Most Worry-Free Cars in U.S.

Oct 07, 2014 05:00 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

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Car buyers have a lot to consider when buying a car. From the vehicle's fuel economy to its size, there is a lot to think about.

No matter if you're looking for a used car or a brand new one, eventually the vehicle is going to need repair work. One of the most concerning issues is how much a car will cost to repair over time.

Cars.com has released a new Worry-Free Index to give consumers a list of vehicles that should provide the most worry-free ownership experience.

Vehicles were selected based on low expected maintenance costs, strong warranties, and proven liability, according to the website. By analyzing hundreds of Cars.com consumers and years of reliability data provided by J.D Power and Associates and Consumer Reports, 15 cars were finally selected.

"Car shoppers have a lot to sort through when looking for a new car," said Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com Executive Editor, according to a company release. "How much a car will cost to repair over time is a huge consideration. There's a lot of information out there about reliability and maintenance, so we combined it all into one formula to help shoppers make informed purchase decisions and enjoy worry-free ownership of their new car."

Manufacturer warranties and five-year estimated maintenance costs were considered, along with crash test results.

Any model that was in its first year or in the first year of a major redesign was disqualified from contention, according to the site.

Toyota Rules

Toyota performed well, including its Lexus luxury division. The automaker had 10 of the top 15 vehicles, including the first three.

The Lexus RX, which is now in the twilight years of its third generation, finished first (rx 450H) and third (RX 350), respectively, due to strong warranty scores and reliability.

Low expected maintenance costs for the RX 450h helped, which finished second to the Toyota Sequoia, no. 14 on the overall list, according to Cars.com.

The top-selling sedan in the U.S., the Toyota Camry, posted strong scores, mainly for the No. 5 Camry Hybrid model.

The Camry's sales proves how much consumers want a worry-free vehicle, especially in the U.S.

So How About the Rest?

General Motors had two SUVs make the list, the Chevrolet Tahoe and the GMC Yukon. Both vehicles scored well in the last year of the current generation.

Honda and its luxury Acura division had three vehicles, like the Civic compact.

A vehicle can score up to a maximum 425 points.

Sales

Besides the Yukon and Tahoe, which have redesigned 2015 vehicles in showrooms now, sales for the top worry-free vehicles have increased 1.8 percent through August 2014 compared to the same time last year.

This is no easy feat, since most of the vehicles have been available for three or more model years, according to Cars.com.

 "Cars.com's Worry-Free ranking gives consumers a list of cars that editors are confident will provide the most worry-free ownership experience, based on proven reliability, low expected maintenance costs and strong warranties," said Wiesenfelder. "We analyzed reliability scores given by Cars.com consumers, and years of reliability data from two leading industry sources: J.D. Power and Associates, and Consumer Reports. We scrutinized five-year estimated maintenance costs and manufacturer warranties. We also made sure that none of these cars received poor crash test ratings."

survey released last month of new-car shoppers by the National Automobile Dealers Association determined that more than three-quarters of car and truck shoppers said build quality and reliability were "important" or "very important" during their car-buying experience. That was a higher ratio than nine other key factors, like safety technology and fuel economy.

Cost of ownership, which includes maintenance, was "important" or "very important" to 68 percent of car shoppers and 70 percent of truck/SUV shoppers.

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