Lexus tops dependability study, Buick ranks No. 3

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Lexus achieved the highest ranking in vehicle dependability among all car brands in J.D. Power’s 2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, while Buick topped the mass-market brands by coming in at No. 3 overall.

The study measures the number of problems experienced over the past 12 months by the original owners of 2015 model-year vehicles. Lexus drivers reported 99 problems per 100 vehicles, while Buick drivers reported 116 problem per 100 cars.

Porsche was the No. 2 brand overall, followed by Buick, with Infiniti at No. 4, Kia at No. 5, Chevrolet and Hyundai tied for No. 6, BMW and Toyota tied for No. 8, and Lincoln and Nissan tied for No. 10.

Overall vehicle dependability improved 9 percent from 2017, the first time the industry score has improved since 2013. And mass-market brands continue to close the gap between their more expensive counterparts.

Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power, said the findings show U.S. consumers are generally satisfied with their cars.

“For the most part, automotive manufacturers continue to meet consumers’ vehicle dependability expectations,” Sargent said in a statement. “A 9 percent improvement is extremely impressive, and vehicle dependability is, without question, at its best level ever.”

The lowest-performing brands were Chrysler (211 problems per 100 vehicles), Land Rover (204 problems), Fiat (192 problems), Jeep (188 problems) and Cadillac (186 problems).

Infotainment problems continue to draw the most complaints, with voice recognition and Bluetooth connectivity leading the list.

Jonathan Banks, vice president of vehicle analysis and analytics at J.D. Power, said dependability rankings can affect sales figures for new cars and the re-sale value of used vehicles.

“Strong dependability scores not only improve demand for used vehicles, but also are a contributor to higher residual values,” Banks said, also in a statement. “Improving dependability ultimately supports new vehicle sales and provides a better perception of the brand.”

Other findings in the study included Fiat being identified as the most improved brand, with its owners reporting 106 fewer problems per 100 cars this year than they did in the 2017 version of the study.

Infiniti jumped from 29th to 4th in the rankings and Nissan drivers reported 37 fewer problems per 100 cars than their counterparts in 2017 did. Ford drivers reported 31 fewer problems per 100 cars than they did in the 2017 study.

Kia (No. 5), Nissan (tied for No. 10) and Dodge (No. 24) achieved their best-ever rankings.

Toyota Motor Corp. models received six of the 19 segment awards, for the Lexus CT, Lexus ES, Lexus GS, Lexus RX, Toyota Prius and Toyota Tacoma. General Motors models, meanwhile, receive five segment awards for the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Traverse and Chevrolet Silverado.

The Audi Q3 was the only model in the 2018 study to receive an award in its first year.

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing

Most-dependable brands

1. Lexus

2. Porsche

3. Buick

4. Infiniti

5. Kia

6. (tie) Chevrolet

6. (tie) Hyundai

8. (tie) BMW

8. (tie) Toyota

10. (tie) Lincoln

10. (tie) Nissan

Source: J.D. Power

Segment leaders

The top-ranked models in each segment:

Small car: Kia Rio

Small premium car: Lexus CT

Compact car: Toyota Prius

Compact premium car: Lexus ES

Midsize car: Chevrolet Malibu

Midsize sporty car: Dodge Challenger

Midsize premium car: Lexus GS

Large car: Buick LaCrosse

Small SUV: Hyundai Tucson

Small premium SUV: Audi Q3

Compact SUV: Chevrolet Equinox

Compact premium SUV: Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

Midsize pickup: Toyota Tacoma

Midsize SUV: Chevrolet Traverse

Midsize premium SUV: Lexus RX

Minivan: Honda Odyssey

Large SUV: Ford Expedition

Large light-duty pickup: Chevrolet Silverado

Large heavy-duty pickup: Ford Super Duty

Source: J.D. Power