Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln premium brand may have won a closely watched annual study of the most reliable vehicles, yet Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus luxury brand finished second and Toyota overall did better than any other auto maker for reliability awards in individual model segments.
Lincoln, with a reported 101 problems per 100 vehicles, unseated Porsche in J.D. Power and Associates' 2011 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) released today. Lincoln was followed by Lexus, Jaguar, Porsche, Toyota, Acura, Buick, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Hyundai and Honda.
However, Toyota's seven model awards went to the Lexus RX, Scion xB, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Prius, Toyota Sienna, Toyota Tacoma and Toyota Tundra.
Ford's four segment awards sent to the Ford Fusion, Ford Mustang, Lincoln MKZ and Lincoln Navigator.
Worth noting: Lincoln placed No. 2 last year. Lexus moved into second place in the 2011 study, up from fourth a year earlier. Jaguar was the third highest rated, catapulting up from below average in 2010.
The VDS asks owners about problems they have experienced in the past 12 months with their three-year-old vehicles. That is, for the 2011 study, 2008 model-year cars and trucks were surveyed. Survey respondents were asked about more than 200 issues in eight diverse categories. In short, the VDS is an indicator of longer-term dependability, rather than merely a new-model snapshot.
It matters to auto makers because J.D. Power's research, and that done by others, indicates a strong link between reliability and purchase. Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of new-vehicle buyers say reliability/durability is one of the most important factors in choosing a new vehicle.
For Ford, which at the beginning of the last decade consistently ranked below average in numerous quality studies, the latest VDS results help to validate further the company's turnaround efforts. Ford, while still carrying more debt than market watchers like, is now the second-most profitable car company in the world. Ford earned $9.28-billion in the last two years after $30.1-billion in losses from 2006 through 2008 (all figures in U.S. dollars).
"The results of this study are extremely gratifying," said Bennie Fowler, Ford Group Vice-President, Global Quality and New Model Launches. "We've been working hard to develop the products and processes that allow us to be best-in-class."
Lincoln has never finished atop the VDS before. The Ford brand finished 12th in the study, well above the industry average.
J.D. Power said in releasing the study that overall vehicle dependability continues to improve, though slowly. Mechanical problems are less an issue now than struggles with electronic-based features, Power said.
Also, despite the gains made by Ford and other Detroit-based auto makers, import brands still outperform them in long-term dependability. Detroit's auto makers have made great progress with passenger car quality, yet their so-called area of strength and greatest source of profits are light trucks - vans, SUVs and crossovers - which lag behind those sold by Asian and European auto makers with fewer problems.
J.D. Power 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study
Nameplate ranking - problems per 100 vehicles
Lincoln 101 Lexus 109 Jaguar 112 Porsche 114 Toyota 122 Acura 123 Buick 125 Mercedes-Benz 128 Cadillac 130 Hyundai 132 Honda 139 Ford 140 Saab 146 Infiniti 151 Industry average 151 Smart 152 Chevrolet 156 Volvo 156 Subaru 157 Kia 160 Audi 161 BMW 164 Scion 166 Ram 173 Mazda 181 Nissan 183 GMC 184 Mitsubishi 186 Suzuki 190 Volkswagen 191 Chrysler 202 Dodge 206 Land Rover 212 Jeep 214 Mini 221
A few other tidbits from the study:
- Porsche's 911 sports car had the fewest problems in the industry, with 68 per 100 vehicles.
- 76 per cent of owners who experienced no problems with their vehicles said they "definitely will" return to the dealer for paid service, but that number fell to 42 per cent for owners who had six or more problems.
- 22 out of 32 brands surveyed improved their scores from last year.
- Jaguar was the most improved brand followed by Suzuki, Land Rover, Scion and Volkswagen.
- Toyota's recent recalls did not affect the 2008 model-year study.
- General Motors' segment awards went to the Buick Lucerne, Cadillac DTS and Chevrolet Tahoe.
- Honda's segment winners were the Acura RL, Honda CR-V and Honda Fit.
- Other segment leaders were the BMW X3. Mazda MX-5 Miata, and Mercedes-Benz CLK.