Car queue in the bad traffic road. Selective focus.
General Motors makes the most reliable pickups. Lincoln, struggling for its life, is as dependable a brand as Toyota. And Detroit brands overall are nearly as dependable as foreign brands.
Those are some of the notable – perhaps surprising – results in J.D. Power and Associates’ latest Vehicle Dependability Study, which measures problems on three-year-old cars and trucks. That makes the results, disclosed today, a valuable resource for used-car shoppers, now that used-car prices are so high.
The report card this year is for 2010 models. The rankings are based on problems the past 12 months reported by original buyers who still own the vehicles. Power surveyed more than 37,000 owners to collect the data.
The overall average for 2010 models in the survey was 126 problems per 100 cars, 5% better than 2009 models scored in last year’s study. Of 31 brands measured, 21 improved their reliability scores. Detroit brands improved at a slightly faster rate than import brands, shrinking the gap to 10 problems per 100 from last year’s 13 problems.
Domestics: 133 problems per 100. Imports: 123.
The dependability scores are more than bragging points for automakers. Power says owners of reliable vehicles are much more likely to buy the same brand again. For auto owners, it’s comforting to know there’s a serious dollars-and-cents motive for car companies to keep improving reliability.
Power says that for the first time, “all-new” and redesigned models had fewer problems when three years old than did unchanged models. New or redesigned 2010 models averaged 116 problems per 100, while vehicles carried over more-or-less unchanged from 2009 averaged 133 problems.
The 2009s include vehicles built by GM and Chrysler Group, as they slid into Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. The 2010s include GM and Chrysler models made as the companies emerged from government-scripted and financially aided bankruptcy reorganization in the summer of 2009.
“There is a perception that all-new models, or models that undergo a major redesign, are more problematic than carry-over models. Data from the 2013 study suggest that this is not the case,” says David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. “The rapid improvement in fundamental vehicle dependability each year is more than offsetting any initial glitches that all-new or redesigned models may have.”
That runs head-on into a maxim of respected Consumer Reports.
“The first year is the absolute worst time to buy a new car,” says Jake Fisher, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports. “Where’s reliability? We have gone through stacks, reams of data. Every automaker, reliability improves as the generation progresses,” he said at USA TODAY’s auto-buying roundtable at the Los Angeles auto show in November.
TOP 3 MODELS BY TYPE and SIZE
In order of ranking, fewer than three means no others ranked above segment average in problems per 100 vehicles:
–Subcompact car: Scion xD, Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Accent
–Compact car: Toyota Prius, Ford Focus, Mazda3
–Compact Sporty Car: Mazda MX-5 Miata, Mini Cooper, Scion tC
–Compact Premium Sporty Car: Nissan Z, Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe, Volvo C70
–Midsize Sporty Car: Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang
–Midsize car: Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion, Buick LaCrosse
–Large Car: Buick Lucerne, Toyota Avalon, Chevrolet Impala
–Entry Premium Car: Lexus ES350, Lincoln MKZ, Cadillac CTS
–Midsize Premium Car: Audi A6, Volvo S80, Lexus GS 350/GS 460
–Compact Multipurpose Vehicle: Scion xB, Chevrolet HHR, Kia Soul
–Compact Crossover/SUV: Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Toyota FJ Cruiser
–Midsize Crossover/SUV: Honda Crosstour, Toyota Venza, Toyota 4Runner
–Large Crossover/SUV: Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Toyota Sequoia
–Entry Premium Crossover/SUV: Acura RDX, Audi Q5
–Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV: Lexus RX, Volvo XC70
–Minivan: Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey
–Midsize Pickup: Ford Ranger, Ram Dakota, Honda Ridgeline
–Large Pickup: GMC Sierra HD, GMC Sierra (light), Chevrolet Avalanche
Problems per 100 2010 vehicles, average for all models:
INDUSTRY AVERAGE 128
–Land Rover 220
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