The Best New Cars of 2012

Few things compare to the thrill of getting in a brand new car. The feeling of pride, joy and excitement are at an all time high as you drive around in your new ride, but nothing kills that new-car buzz more than a new vehicle that starts giving you problems soon after the purchase.

Fortunately, J.D. Power and Associates has released its Initial Quality Study for the new cars of 2012, which is an annual survey that ranks automakers based on the number of defects and design related problems reported within the first three months of ownership. This year, the report showed a 5 percent improvement over 2011, with an industry average of 102 problems for every 100 vehicles. However, owners also expressed frustration with audio and infotainment systems, with a 45 percent jump in reported problems from six years ago.

So which cars were rated highest in different categories? Check out the list here.

Toyota Corolla

Compact Cars

Top Compact Car: Toyota Corolla
Also the world’s best-selling car, The Toyota Corolla is defeated by many of its rivals when it comes to technology, design and performance, but when it comes to reliability, this no-frills vehicle has a long-standing and unmatched reputation.

Top Subcompact Car: Toyota Yaris

Top Compact Sporty Car: Mazda MX-5 Miata

Top Compact Premium Sporty Car: Volvo C70

Top Compact Crossover/SUV: Honda CR-V

Chevrolet Malibu

Top Compact MPV: Kia Soul

Mid-size Cars

Top Mid-size Car: Chevrolet Malibu
The Malibu received a redesign in 2008 that earned it a second look by those turned off by its previous design. Adding to the stylish look is a better fuel economy and overall comfort, which puts it in line with its Japanese peers. And its status seems to be getting better. For 2103, the Malibu will get an electric motor to save gas and lower emissions, as well as more connectivity features.

Top Mid-size Premium Car: Infiniti M

Top Mid-size Crossover/SUV: Buick Enclave

Top Mid-size Premium Crossover/SUV: Lexus RX

Top Mid-size Pickup: Nissan Frontier

Top Mid-size Sporty Car: Ford Mustang

Ford Taurus

Large Cars

Top Large Car: Ford Taurus
The fuel-efficient, turbo-charged engines this car offers are just one of its frills. The fresh, refined Taurus has a slick look and is well-built. After receiving complaints on the MyFord Touch infotainment system last year, the feature has been redesigned to address the issues and works well in this new model. One complaint it received: The windows are small on the frame of this large car, which interferes with visibility, but overall the car has won over customers.

Top Large Premium Car: Lexus LS

Top Large Crossover/SUV: Ford Expedition

Top Large Premium Crossover/SUV: Cadillac Escalade

Top Large Pickup: GMC Sierra 1500

Lexus ES


Top Entry Premium Car: Lexus ES
Lexus is a leader on the J.D list as the most reliable automaker, and the ES is smooth and responsive enough to steer with a finger. The luxury it offers is also top-notch. For 2013, the all new ES 350 is going to offer an aggressive front end and sculpted interior, as well as a hybrid trim.

Top Entry Premium Crossover/SUV: Infiniti EX

Top Premium Sport Car: Porsche 911

Top Minivan: Nissan Quest