Lexus, Porsche top vehicle dependability ranking

Cars are performing better than ever, J.D. Power finds

The Associated PressFebruary 14, 2013 

Autos-Dependability

FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, photo, The Lexus IS 300h debuts at media previews for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Lexus, Porsche and Lincoln are the best performers in an annual survey of vehicle dependability. The J.D. Power and Associates survey released Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, measures problems experienced in the last year by owners of 3-year-old vehicles. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

PAUL SANCYA — The ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Reliable rides A new J.D. Power and Associates study found the following vehicles were most reliable: Small car: Toyota Prius Midsize car: Hyundai Sonata Small SUV: Toyota RAV4 Big SUV: Chevrolet Tahoe Midsize SUV: Lexus RX, also had the fewest problems of any vehicle
  • Biggest vehicle complaints No. 1: Excessive wind noise No. 2: Noisy brakes No. 3: Chipping or fading paint On the rise: Dashboard electronics trouble, such as missing directions in navigation systems and voice recognition software that doesn’t recognize commands

— If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s your car.

Vehicles are more dependable than ever, says J.D. Power and Associates. The consulting company’s latest study, which measures problems experienced in the last year by owners of 3-year-old vehicles, found that reported problems fell 5 percent to the lowest level since J.D. Power began collecting this data in 1989.

Lexus, Porsche, Lincoln and Toyota owners reported the fewest problems, while Jeep, Mitsubishi, Dodge and Land Rover owners had the most. Owners reported an average of 126 problems per 100 vehicles from the 2010 model year, down from 132 in last year’s survey. Problems can be anything from engine failure to dashboard electronic glitches to excessive wind noise.

For the first time, cars and trucks that were new or redesigned for 2010 performed better than those that were unchanged from the 2009 model year. Owners of new models experienced 116 problems per 100 vehicles compared with 133 for models that weren’t new in 2010. That result challenges the conventional wisdom that it takes carmakers one or two model years to work out all the glitches in new cars.

“The rapid improvement in fundamental vehicle dependability each year is more than offsetting any initial glitches that all-new or redesigned models may have,” said David Sargent, who leads J.D. Power’s global automotive operations.

Among the models that were new or redesigned in 2010 were the Ford Mustang, Buick LaCrosse, Lexus ES350 and Toyota Camry.

Chrysler’s Ram brand – which introduced a new heavy-duty pickup in 2010 – saw one of the biggest leaps in the rankings. It rose to the 9th spot in 2013 from the 29th spot last year. Suzuki and Mazda also jumped in the rankings. Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion brand dropped 13 spots, and Cadillac, Audi, Volvo and Mitsubishi all dropped 11 spots.

U.S.-based brands continued to narrow the “dependability gap” with foreign brands. This year the gap fell to 10 problems per 100 vehicles. It was 13 problems in 2012 and 18 problems 2011, J.D. Power said.

Dependability rankings are important to car companies, since buyers who are happy with a purchase are more likely to stick with that brand in the future.

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