J.D. Power and Associates has just released its 2008 Vehicle Dependability Study that attempts to measure vehicle quality throughout the first three years of owning a vehicle, and for the 14th year in a row Lexus leads all manufacturers with a rating of just 120 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100). This year's runner up, surprisingly, is Mercury, though it's a distant second at 151 PP100. Cadillac (155 PP100), Toyota (159 PP100) and Acura (160 PP100) round out the top five spots for brands. Lexus also had the most segment leaders with six vehicles leading their respective category, while Toyota tacked on another five. The study also says that long-term vehicle quality has also improved 5% across the industry in 2008, with the industry average dropping 10 PP100 down to 206 this year.
The Vehicle Dependability Study is based on surveys taken of 52,000 original owners of 2005 model year vehicles. Take whatever stock you will in it, as some argue that subjectivity can skew the results. For instance, Lexus owners may tend to report that their vehicles are running just fine out of pride and loyalty to their brand. Nevertheless, J.D. Power's complete press release and results for the industry and each segment category can be found after the jump and in the gallery below.
[Source: J.D. Power and Associates]
J.D. Power and Associates Reports:
Deterioration in Vehicle Quality During the First Three Years of Ownership Has a Major Impact on Customer Satisfaction and Advocacy
Lexus Ranks Highest in Vehicle Dependability for a 14th Consecutive Year
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 7 August 2008 - Deterioration in vehicle quality during the first three years of ownership-determined by comparing long-term dependability rates to initial quality problem rates-strongly affects overall customer satisfaction as well as customer willingness to recommend their vehicle model, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS) released today.
The study, which measures problems experienced by original owners of 3-year-old (2005 model year) vehicles, finds that, on average, customers report experiencing 75 percent more problems in the third year of ownership than during the first 90 days. Those models with the largest increase in problem levels show the most pronounced declines in satisfaction and the likelihood of owners to recommend their vehicle model. In addition, while no model has fewer reported problems in the third year of ownership compared with the first three months, those models that average less than 35 percent problem growth actually demonstrate improvement in overall satisfaction during the three-year period.
"Understanding and minimizing quality deterioration is critical for manufacturers, as it is a key driver of owner satisfaction and word of mouth recommendations," said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. "It is imperative that manufacturers design models that not only achieve high levels of initial quality but also attain high levels of longer-term dependability. Vehicle models that stand the test of time will help automaker profitability through superior owner satisfaction and recommendation rates."
The study also finds that five of the top 10 problems reported industry-wide in the 2008 Vehicle Dependability Study were also among the top 10 most frequently reported problems in the 2005 Initial Quality Study, suggesting that the problems are identified by owners during the initial ownership period, but have not been rectified by automakers during the three-year ownership period.
The problems include:
- Excessive wind noise
- Noisy brakes
- Vehicle pulling to the left or right
- Issues with the instrument panel/dashboard
- Excessive window fogging
For a 14th consecutive year, Lexus ranks highest in vehicle dependability, improving by 25 problems per 100 vehicles since 2007 to achieve a score of 120 PP100. Following in the top five rankings are Mercury, Cadillac, Toyota and Acura, respectively.
In addition, Lexus garners six segment awards-the most of any nameplate in 2008-for the ES 330, GX 470, IS 300, LS 430, LX 470 and SC 430. Toyota follows with five segment awards for the Highlander, Prius, RAV4, Sequoia, and Tundra. Ford and Honda each capture two awards. Ford models receiving awards are the Crown Victoria and Ranger, while Honda earns awards for the Element and S2000. Models by Buick, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Mazda and Mercury each rank highest in one segment.
SAAB is the most improved brand in the study, although it continues to rank below the industry average. SAAB improves by 65 PP100 since 2007.
The study finds that long-term vehicle quality has improved by 5 percent industry-wide in 2008-with an overall decrease of 10 problems per 100 vehicles-compared with 2007. More than 60 percent of the 38 nameplates included in the study improve in 2008, compared with 2007. Among the 19 segments included in the study, the midsize premium MAV segment demonstrates the most improvement in 2008-36 PP100 fewer than in 2007. The compact car and midsize car segments also have much lower problem levels in 2008 than in 2007, and together account for more than one-half of the overall industry improvement.
"The gains in dependability for compact and midsize vehicles are good news for consumers who are downsizing their vehicles due to increasing fuel prices," said Sargent. "Consumers who purchase these smaller vehicles benefit not only from immediate gains in fuel economy, but also from improvements in long-term dependability, compared with previous years."
The 2008 Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from more than 52,000 original owners of 2005 model-year vehicles. The study was fielded from January through April 2008.
Find more detailed findings on vehicle dependability as well as model photos and specs by reading an article and reviewing brand and segment dependability ratings at JDPower.com.