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For the first time in 15 years Lexus is not the most dependable brand according to J.D. Power & Associates. The torch has instead been passed on to luxury competitor Jaguar as well as to GM’s Buick brand.

Both Buick and Jaguar came from well behind in the pack to eclipse Lexus in the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, which ranks reported problems of 3-year old models.

Buick, which ranked 6th last year, and Jaguar, which placed a distant 10th in 2008, are tied for the top spot this year.

Lexus continues to hold on to the second spot, with Toyota and Mercury following closely.

David Sargent, J.D. Power’s VP of auto research told Automotive News that, “Part of GM’s historical challenge has been that the customer’s perception of GM’s vehicles has been not in line with reliability. Maybe 10 or 15 years ago their vehicles weren’t as reliable as some of the imports, but I think today they’ve virtually caught up.”

In fact, two years ago Buick actually tied Lexus for the top spot.

The J.D. Power research shows that owners of Buick and Jaguar models reported an average of 122 problems per 100 vehicles, compared to 126 problems per 100 vehicle for Lexus owners.

Lexus can, however, still lay claim to the most reliable vehicle, the LS430, with the fewest problems reported - just 61 for every 100 vehicles.

J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study is even more important this year as with the current recession owners are opting to hold on to vehicles rather than purchase new ones. According to J.D. Power, owners of new vehicles are holding on to their cars for an average of 73 months, up from 66 moths in 2006.

More: Lexus Loses Reliability Crown: Jaguar & Buick Share Top Spot on
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