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Summary: Lexus in front, then Buick and Toyota. Domestics above average, Europeans below average, Huyndai and Kia sweeping up after the elephants.

DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp.'s luxury Lexus brand won top honors for the 11th consecutive year in an annual long-term vehicle quality survey released on Wednesday.

The closely watched J.D. Power and Associates survey of long-term vehicle dependability is based on responses from 50,635 owners of 3-year-old vehicles when questioned about scores of specific problems ranging from wind or brake noise to uneven tire wear and stalling engines.

The survey is key to the auto industry because new car buyers say long-term quality is one of the most important factors in their choice of brands, according to J.D. Power. It is also important to automakers because of warranty costs.

Lexus had 139 problems per 100 vehicles, a 14 percent improvement from last year. It also has the top individual model, the LS 430, which had 90 problems per 100 vehicles.

General Motor Corp.'s Buick nameplate led mainstream brands, with 163 problems per 100 vehicles, followed by the Toyota nameplate with 194 problems.

All the flagship brands of Detroit's traditional Big Three automakers -- GM's Chevrolet, Ford and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler -- were ranked above the industry average of 237 problems per 100 vehicles.

GM also had eight individual vehicles top their respective segments in long-term quality.

GM's Chevrolet Prizm, Chevrolet Malibu, Buick Century and Buick LeSabre sedans, Chevrolet S-10, Chevrolet Silverado and Cadillac Escalade EXT pickups and GMC Yukon sport utility vehicle all topped their class.

Hyundai Motor Co.'s Hyundai nameplate saw the largest reduction in problems reported by owners, improving 31 percent from last year with 260 problems per 100 vehicles. The brand, however, still hovered below the industry average.

Hyundai's sister nameplate Kia was ranked as the least reliable brand with 397 problems per 100 vehicles, according to the survey.

High-profile European luxury nameplates such as DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes, Ford's Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover, GM's Saab and Volkswagen AG's Audi all scored well below the industry average.
 
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