High-tech features are proving more problematic than beneficial for some new car owners.
According to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, problems with infotainment, navigation and in-vehicle communication systems have increased and now account for 20 percent of all customer-reported problems in this year’s study. In-car technology has collectively become the most problematic area in most vehicles and is the cause of the industry’s three-percent year-over-year decline in vehicle dependability.
This year’s study surveyed 33,560 original owners of 2013 model year vehicles and analyzed responses after three years of ownership. J.D. Power totaled how many problems vehicle owners experienced during the past 12 months to arrive at a score consisting of the number of problems per 100 vehicles, with a lower score reflecting higher quality.
This year, the industry average is 152, which is worse than last year’s average of 147. The problem most often reported by vehicle owners are Bluetooth pairing and connectivity, as well as built-in voice recognition systems misinterpreting commands. Difficult-to-use navigation systems and navigation system inaccuracy are also among the 10 most frequently reported problems this year.
See the top 10 least dependable automakers of 2016 according to the study below.
Subaru continues to perform under the industry average, with the Japanese automaker getting a score of 157 problems per 100 vehicles in 2015. This year, Subaru’s problems went up a bit to 166 making it the 10th least dependable automaker. The company fared better last year when it was the 12th least dependable.
The good news is Scion is dead. The bad news is, Scion’s dependability could hurt Toyota in future studies now that the automaker is absorbing the models into its lineup. This year, Scion had 167 problems per 100 vehicles, a major increase compared to last year’s 121 figure. In fact, Scion finished well above the industry average last year and in ninth place overall. This year, it’s the ninth least dependable automaker, which is interesting because Toyota and Lexus are two of the most dependable.
Diesel emissions scandal aside, Volkswagen owners are having plenty of problems with their vehicles. This year, the German automaker had 169 problems per 100 vehicles, slightly more than last year’s 165 number. In rose a few spots too – in a bad way – from 10th place in 2015.
Somewhere, a Fiat executive is secretly jumping up for joy because the Italian automaker isn’t in last place. This year, the company managed to improve from being the least dependable automaker to being the seventh-least dependable, but it improved drastically. For this year’s study, owners reported 171 problems per 100 vehicles while last year, it had an astounding 273 problems.
Nissan owners might want to pay attention, because last year the automaker finished 13th overall with 128 problems per 100 vehicles. This year, Nissan is near the bottom of the list with 173 problems per 100 vehicles.
Jeep may have improved compared to last year’s ranking of being the third-least dependable automaker with 197 problems per 100 vehicles, but the American automaker is still struggling in the dependability category. This year, it had 181 problems per 100 vehicles, an improvement but not enough.
4. Land Rover
Land Rover is similar to Jeep, improving but still performing significantly worse than the industry average. Last year, the company battled it out with Fiat for the honors of being the least dependable automaker with 258 problems per 100 vehicles. This year, owners reported 198 problems.
Smart was actually not ranked in last year’s J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study due to a small sample size, but this year it joins the list in style. As the third-least dependable automaker, Smart owners reported 199 problems per 100 vehicles.
Surprised to see Ford at the bottom of the list? The American automaker struggled significantly this year with 204 problems per 100 vehicles. Last year, the company had 188 problems and was the seventh-least dependable automaker.
Topping the list of least dependable automakers of 2016 is Dodge, swiping away the crown Fiat, which resides under the same Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) umbrella. Last year, Dodge owners had 192 problems per 100 vehicles and this year it got worse with 208 problems reported. FCA has its work cut out with Chrysler, Fiat, Jeep and Dodge all falling under the industry average, making Ram the sole brand in the group to perform well on this year’s dependability study.