J.D. Power just released its annual Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS). This closely monitored report gives automakers and consumers a good idea of how well the industry is doing when it comes to quality.
VDS focuses on long-term reliability by monitoring defects, malfunctions and design-related issues with three-year old vehicles still being driven by their original owners. Dependability is scored in problems per 100 vehicles. In other words, its a look at the most reliable car brands.
The latest installment of this survey covers issues with cars and trucks from the 2012 model year. It dovetails neatly with the firm’s Initial Quality Study, which monitors problems reported during the first three months of ownership.
For 2015 the folks at J.D. Power have published a number of interesting findings. Not surprisingly the most problem-prone areas of today’s vehicles are related to Bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition. Exterior concerns also popped up as did powertrain issues, namely automatic transmission shift quality. Overall 177 specific problems are monitored in this report.
So, how did car companies do overall? Well, here are the 10 highest-ranked automakers in the 2015 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study based on how they fared over a three-year period.
Making it in the top 10 is Chevrolet. The bow-tie brand ended up with a score of 123 problems per 100 vehicles (tying with GMC), quite a bit better than the industry average of 147; remember, lower is better, just like LDL cholesterol. The Camaro, Malibu and Silverado nameplates each won an award in their respective segments.
Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion brand may be in the doldrums from a sales standpoint but it’s going places in the quality department. It improved to 121 problems per 100 vehicles, dropping by 13 compared to last year’s VDS. Mitsubishi and Ram posted similar improvements, though they didn’t quite crack the top 10. Scion’s tC, xB and xD each won an award.
Luxury means complexity, which often translates into cantankerousness and extra maintenance costs. But the folks in Stuttgart have figured out how to avoid having issues with their feature-laden cars and trucks. Mercedes-Benz drove away with a score of just 119 problems per 100 vehicles. Their E-Class was the highest-ranked midsize premium car topping the Lincoln MKS and Infiniti M. The GLK also won top honors among compact premium SUVs.
Speaking of Ford’s pseudo-luxury division, Lincoln topped Mercedes by one point, ending up with a score of 118. And while it didn’t win any specific awards its MKS and MKZ sedans performed admirably.
Arguably Porsche is the quintessential builder of thoroughbred sports cars. Zuffenhausen knows a thing or two about putting smiles on drivers’ faces, they’ve been doing it for decades. According to J.D. Power they’re also champions of sound engineering, posting a score of just 116 problems per 100 vehicles. Like you needed another reason to buy a 911.
Honda tied Porsche by posting a score of 116. Its boxy Ridgeline was the highest-rated midsize pickup while the Fit and Civic also performed very well. The Capital H has a reputation for quality and they consistently impress day in and day out, year after year.
Way to go, Caddy! GM’s luxury brand topped the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and even Honda with just 114 problems per 100 vehicles, a score that netted the wreath-less crest brand a fourth-place finish. Making this performance even more impressive is that none of its models won any specific awards, meaning its entire lineup should be performing extremely well.
Toyota is always a surefire bet when it comes to quality and 2015 is no exception. This mainstream brand finished in the No. 3 spot with a stellar score of just 111 problems per 100 vehicles. Additionally its Corolla compact car and Sienna minivan won their respective categories and plenty of other segments had Toyota models on the podium.
That’s not a Buick! Well actually, it is. The tri-shield brand performed admirably, coming in second place with a score of 110. This is three positions better than it did last year. Underscoring this performance, the LaCrosse was the top-rated large car, beating Toyota’s Avalon and the Ford Taurus, which finished in second and third, respectively.
Lexus topped all rivals with a jaw-dropping score of just 89 problems per 100 vehicles. That’s an industry-leading performance, but what do you expect from Toyota’s luxury division? Their ES was the top-rated compact premium car while the GX was the No. 1 midsize premium SUV. Their CT and RX were both strong competitor as well. This is the fourth consecutive year Lexus has been the best in J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study.
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One other thing worth noting is GM’s overall performance. The Detroit-based automaker won seven segment awards, the same number as Toyota. Additionally the results of this study are based on the responses of more than 34,000 vehicle owners.