Some rather unlikely contenders topped the survey, while long-time reliable favourites didn't fare so well in real-world comparisons.
At the top of the list is Porsche, which sells fewer cars in a year than industry leaders sell in a week, followed by Ford's US domestic brands which all made an appearance amongst the top eight.
Jaguar fell from first place in 2009 to the number 23 spot, following a trend which saw only two of the European brands score better than the industry average of 155 problems per 100 vehicles.
The brands most commonly stereotyped as poorly built defied their public perceptions to rank within the study's top 12 - they were Cadillac, Ford, Hyundai, Lincoln and Mercury.
“It takes considerable time to positively change consumer perceptions of quality and dependability -- sometimes a decade or more,” said David Sargent, vice president of global research for J.D. Power. “So it is vital for manufacturers to continually improve quality and also to convince consumers of these gains.”
According to the survey, the Cadillac DTS was rated the industry's most trouble-free vehicle, with just 76 reported problems per 100 vehicles.
At the lower end of the spectrum all but seven brands scored below 200, with a few manufacturing heavyweights among them.
Below is the full list for the 2010 Vehicle Dependability Study, a lower score means better quality.
Land Rover 255