The most dependable cars

Last updated 07:10 15/02/2013
The J D Power vehicle dependability study.

HEROES TO ZEROES: The J D Power vehicle dependability study.

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Luxury brand Lexus has topped US vehicle dependability study that looked at problems experienced in the first three years of ownership.

But the news isn't so good for makers of European brands, which filled six of the bottom 10 places on the list.

Luxury sports car maker Porsche was runner-up to Lexus, while Ford's luxury offshoot Lincoln ranked third, ahead of Toyota and Mercedes-Benz.

Five of the top 10 brands were Japanese, three were American and two were European.

At the other end of the spectrum, Land Rover came dead last, with owners likely to have three times the problems of Lexus owners (220 problems per 100 vehicles compared with 71).

Land Rover's sister brand Jaguar languished six spots from the bottom, while the Volkswagen group's well-documented quality problems saw both VW and Audi both finish in the bottom 10.

The study, by leading consumer research company, JD Power, found that the quality of cars made in 2009 had improved over those built the previous year. The improvement in quality may have had something to do with the fact that the industry was building fewer cars, thanks to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

"The continuous improvement in long-term dependability means consumers should have more confidence in three-year-old vehicles, whether they are keeping their current vehicle or shopping for a used car,"  David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at JD Power, said in a statement.

Sargent said vehicle dependabilty had a measureable effect on customer loyalty, with 54 per cent of owners who don't experience any problems with their vehicles staying with that brand for their next purchase. That loyalty rate slips to 41 per cent when three or more problems are experienced.

"By combining our consumer research with trade-in data, we see a clear correlation between dependability and loyalty," he says.

Two-thirds of the 31 brands in the survey improved their scores. 

Among individual models, the Lexus RX SUV had the highest dependability with just 57 problems per 100 vehicles. Lexus's parent Toyota had seven vehicles that topped their individual segments for reliability, while General Motors had four and Honda two.

The survey is based on responses from 37,000 owners.

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