The long-term dependability of three-year-old models has improved year-over-year, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study.
The study, now in its 24th year, measures problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of three-year-old vehicles (those that were introduced for the 2010 model year). Overall dependability is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.
In 2013, the dependability of models that were new or substantially redesigned for the 2010 model year averages 116 PP100, compared with 133 PP100 for models that were unchanged from the 2009 model-year--also referred to as carryover models.
This is the first year that there are fewer reported problems for all-new or redesigned models than for carryover models since the study was redesigned in 2009. Models that were refreshed in 2010--those with generally minor changes to the interior or exterior--average 111 PP100 in the 2013 VDS.
"There is a perception that all-new models, or models that undergo a major redesign, are more problematic than carryover models," said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. "Data from the 2013 VDS suggests that this is not the case. The rapid improvement in fundamental vehicle dependability each year is more than offsetting any initial glitches that all-new or redesigned models may have."
Not surprisingly, the study found that the fewer problems owners experience with their vehicle, the greater their loyalty to the brand.
Lexus ranks highest in vehicle dependability among all nameplates for a second consecutive year. Among models, the Lexus RX has the fewest reported problems in the industry at just 57 PP100. This is the first time in the history of the VDS that a crossover or SUV has achieved this distinction. Rounding out the five highest-ranked nameplates are Porsche, Lincoln, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz. Chrysler Group LLC's Ram brand posts the greatest year-over-year improvement from 2012--by 52 PP100.
Toyota Motor Corporation continues to perform well in long-term dependability and earned seven segment awards--more than any other automaker in 2013--for the Lexus ES 350; Lexus RX; Scion xB; Scion xD; Toyota Prius; Toyota Sienna; and Toyota RAV4.
General Motors received four segment awards for the Buick Lucerne; Chevrolet Camaro; Chevrolet Tahoe; and GMC Sierra HD.
J.D. Power and Associates offers the following tips for consumers regarding vehicle dependability:
The perception that all-new or redesigned models can't be as dependable as those that have been on the market for a year or more is not accurate. Just because a model is new to the market or has been recently redesigned doesn't necessarily mean it won't be as reliable. In fact, dependability of all-new and redesigned models is at a record high, according to 2013 VDS data.
Dependability of three-year-old models is at an all-time high. If you can't afford a new vehicle, or simply don't want one, you should feel confident when buying a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle. Whether buying a CPO vehicle or not, be sure to check quality, appeal and dependability ratings of models you are considering on jdpower.com.
Improvements in vehicle dependability have been made by both domestic and import brands, and the gap between the two is narrowing. Perceptions of dependability should not be based purely on vehicle origin--consumers should research a variety of sources in order to make a decision consistent with the current reality of the market.