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Vehicle Dependability at Historic Highs, Reports J.D. Power

February 15, 2012

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — A study by J.D. Power and Associates revealed that strong initial quality of 2009 model-year vehicles translated into historically high levels of vehicle dependability in 2012.

The 2012 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) measures problems experienced during the last 12 months by original owners of three-year-old (2009 model-year) vehicles. Overall dependability is determined by the level of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

"Despite facing immense challenges in 2009, automakers placed a keen focus on delivering outstanding levels of quality, which they understood would be essential to their long-term success," said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. "Three years later, owners of these models are enjoying unprecedented levels of vehicle dependability and manufacturers are experiencing market recovery. This is good news both for owners — who are holding onto their vehicles for longer than ever — and manufacturers, since perception of quality and dependability is a critical factor in vehicle purchase decisions."

Overall vehicle dependability averaged 132 PP100 in 2012, a 13 percent improvement and the lowest problem rate since the inception of the study in 1990, according to J.D. Power and Associates. The strong dependability of these models reflects their high levels of initial quality when measured three years ago. According to the company’s 2009 Initial Quality Study, overall initial quality of 2009 model-year vehicles was, at the time, the highest level of initial quality since the inaugural IQS in 1987.

Twenty-five of 32 brands have improved in dependability from 2011, while only six have declined and one has remained stable. Domestic nameplates have improved in 2012 at a slightly faster rate than imports, narrowing the dependability gap to 13 PP100 from 18 PP100 in 2011.

There are several brands that have performed very well in dependability during the past several years, but still face challenges with customer perceptions of their reliability, said Sargent. During the past four years, models from Buick, Cadillac, Ford, Hyundai and Lincoln have achieved consistently strong levels of dependability, but still have relatively high proportions of new-vehicle buyers expressing reliability concerns.

"Building vehicles with high levels of dependability is obviously a necessary element in reshaping consumer perceptions," Sargent said. "Negative quality perceptions are notoriously difficult to change, and it takes considerable time, but effectively communicating improvements in dependability may reduce concerns, and by extension, help new-vehicle sales."

Lexus ranked highest in vehicle dependability among all nameplates in 2012. The Lexus LS had the fewest problems in the industry, with just 72 PP100. Rounding out the five highest ranking nameplates were Porsche, Cadillac, Toyota and Scion, respectively. MINI and Scion posted the greatest year-over-year improvements from 2011 by 60 PP100 and 55 PP100, respectively.

Toyota Motor Corporation continued to perform well in long-term dependability and garnered eight segment awards, more than any other automaker in 2012, for the Lexus ES 350 (in a tie with the Lincoln MKZ); Lexus RX 350; Scion tC; Scion xB; Toyota Prius; Toyota Sienna; Toyota Tundra; and Toyota Yaris.

Ford Motor Company received three model awards for the Ford Explorer (in a tie with the Nissan Murano); Ford Fusion; and Lincoln MKZ (in a tie). General Motors (Buick Lucerne and Chevrolet Equinox) and Nissan Motor Co. (Nissan Frontier and Nissan Murano, in a tie with the Ford Explorer) each received two awards. The Hyundai Genesis received an award as well. Although there are no awards in their respective segments due to an insufficient number of award-eligible models, or insufficient market share of award-eligible models in the segment, the Ford Mustang, GMC Yukon and Porsche 911 also performed well.

For more information, visit JDPower.com.

2012 Nameplate Ranking

Problems per 100 Vehicles

Lexus

86

Porsche

98

Cadillac

104

Toyota

104

Scion

111

Mercedes-Benz

112

Lincoln

116

Ford

124

Buick

125

Hyundai

125

Acura

129

Honda

131

Industry Average

132

Chevrolet

135

Volvo

143

Audi

148

smart

148

Subaru

149

Nissan

152

Mitsubishi

153

BMW

154

GMC

158

MINI

161

Mazda

163

Suzuki

167

Kia

169

Volkswagen

169

Infiniti

172

Jaguar

172

Ram

174

Jeep

179

Dodge

183

Chrysler

192

Land Rover and SAAB are included in the study but not ranked
due to small or insufficient sample size.

Top Three Models per Segment
Car Segments

Sub-Compact Car
Highest Ranked: Toyota Yaris
Scion xD
Honda Fit

Compact Car
Highest Ranked: Toyota Prius
Toyota Corolla
Hyundai Elantra

Compact Sporty Car*
Highest Ranked: Scion tC

Midsize Car
Highest Ranked: Ford Fusion
Mitsubishi Galant
Toyota Camry

Large Car
Highest Ranked: Buick Lucerne
Toyota Avalon
Ford Taurus

Entry Premium Car
Highest Ranked:  Lexus ES 350 (tie), Lincoln MKZ (tie)
Acura TL

Midsize Premium Car
Highest Ranked: Hyundai Genesis
Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Volvo S80

*No other model in this segment performs above the segment average.
NOTE: For a segment award to be issued, there must be at least three models with sufficient sample that comprise 80 percent of market sales within an award segment.  In the compact premium sporty car segment, midsize sporty car segment, premium sporty car segment and large premium car segment, these criteria were not met, so no awards have been presented in these segments.  

Top Three Models per Segment
Truck/Multi-Purpose Vehicle/Crossover/SUV Segments

Compact Multi-Purpose Vehicle*
Highest Ranked: Scion xB

Compact Crossover/SUV
Highest Ranked: Chevrolet Equinox
Honda CR-V
Toyota RAV4

Midsize Crossover/SUV
Highest Ranked: Ford Explorer (tie), Nissan Murano (tie)
Toyota Highlander

Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV*
Highest Ranked: Lexus RX 350
Lincoln MKX

Midsize Pickup
Highest Ranked: Nissan Frontier
Ford Ranger
Honda Ridgeline

Minivan*
Highest Ranked: Toyota Sienna
Honda Odyssey

Large Pickup
Highest Ranked: Toyota Tundra 
GMC Sierra HD
Chevrolet Silverado LD

*No other model in this segment performs above the segment average.
NOTE: For a segment award to be issued, there must be at least three models with sufficient sample that comprise 80 percent of market sales within an award segment.  In the entry premium crossover/SUV segment, large crossover/SUV segment and large premium crossover/SUV segments, these criteria were not met, so no awards have been presented in these segments.  

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