Consumers who are the original owners of three-year old Buicks and Jaguars have the lowest number of overall problems with their vehicles, putting the two brands in a first-place tie for vehicle dependability, according to this year’s J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS).?
Both top brands have improved over last year to capture the #1 spot, J.D. Power said. Buick improved from a sixth-place ranking in 2008, while Jaguar improved from tenth place.
Following Buick and Jaguar in the top five rankings this year are Lexus, Toyota and Mercury. Toyota earned five segment awards – more than any other nameplate in 2009 – for the Highlander, Prius, Sequoia, Solara and Tundra.
Lexus won four segment awards for the ES 330 (in a tie with the Acura RL), GX 470, LS 430 and SC 430, while Lincoln captured two awards for the Mark LT and Zephyr.
Models by Acura, Buick, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Mercury, Nissan and Scion each rank highest in one segment.
“Buick has ranked among the top 10 nameplates each year since the study was last redesigned in 2003, while Jaguar has moved rapidly up the rankings,” said David Sargent, VP of automotive research at J.D. Power. “Lexus remains a very strong competitor in long-term quality. In particular, the Lexus LS 430 sets the industry standard for dependability, with fewer problems reported than any other model in the study.”
The 2006 Lexus LS 430 is the top ranked vehicle in the car category:
The study, which measures problems experienced by original owners of three-year-old (2006 model year) vehicles by vehicle-type category, has been redesigned to include 202 different problem symptoms across all areas of the vehicle.
Overall dependability is determined by the level of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.
“In the current economic climate, consumers are delaying new-vehicle purchases and keeping their vehicles longer – the average age of a vehicle at trade-in has increased to 73 months in 2009 from 65 months in 2006,” said Sargent. “This makes vehicle dependability even more critical.”
Long-Term Dependability Improving
Automakers have improved long-term dependability by an average of 10% each year since the inception of the study, J.D. Power said. “Making improvements in long-term quality not only satisfies customers who are holding onto their vehicles longer, but it will also influence their decisions when they return to the new-vehicle market or are seeking to purchase a preowned vehicle,” added Sargent.
Component Replacement Affects Loyalty
The study also finds that the frequency and severity of component replacement has a particularly strong impact on customer loyalty intentions. Component areas for which the impact is greatest include engine and transmission. When engine components are replaced or rebuilt, just 11% of customers say that they definitely intend to
purchase or lease another vehicle of the same make, compared with nearly 40% among owners who report replacing no components.
The study also finds that Buick, Lincoln, Mercury and Jaguar owners are less likely to replace components than owners of other vehicle brands. While component replacement rates are similar for premium and non-premium makes, there are notable differences between vehicle segments. Owners of models in the premium sporty vehicle
segment are least likely to replace components, while owners of models in the van segment are most likely to replace components.
About the study: The 2009 VDS is based on responses from more than 46,000 original owners of 2006 model-year cars, trucks, SUVs and vans. The study was fielded in October 2008. The study measures performance using a “problems per 100 vehicles (PP100)” metric. A lower PP100 score indicates better performance and a higher PP100 score indicates worse performance. The 2009 study covers a total of 202 total problems, broken out into eight major problem categories