Lexus and Porsche are the most dependable car brands after three years of ownership, according to the 28th annual survey conducted J.D. Power, the global marketing research company.
It is the sixth consecutive year that Lexus topped J.D. Power’s annual U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. The streak puts Lexus halfway to tying its record of 12 consecutive titles for most dependable brand between from 1997 to 2008.
Toyota, Buick and Mercedes-Benz rounded out the top five brands overall. Mercedes, Hyundai (No. 6), BMW (No. 7) and Jaguar (No. 10) were newcomers to the Top 10 this year, while GMC, Acura, Ram and Lincoln dropped out.
The industry averaged 156 problems per 100 vehicles in the latest dependability study, up by four problems per 100 vehicles from 2016.
The increase in problems, the second in as many years, was driven in large part by audio, communication, entertainment and navigation systems, which combined to account for 22 percent of all reported problems
The industry is getting “better and better” at preventing problems in traditional areas, such as suspension problems or mechanical issues, said Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power.
“These things are getting better, but it’s being offset by all the technology that’s being stuffed into our cars now,” he said.
Six of the 10 most dependable brands had an increase in reported problems from last year. That includes the top-rated Lexus and Porsche brands, which tied at the top with 110 problems per 100. Lexus saw a rise of 15 problems per 100 and Porsche gained 13 problems.
The model with the lowest score had 305 problems per 100 vehicles surveyed, while the best model had 76 problems, Sargent said. He did not disclose those models.
Fiat finished last by a significant margin, with 298 problems per 100 vehicles, up 74 percent from 2016 for the largest year-over-year dip of any brand. Jeep finished second to last with 209 problems, Dodge finished fourth-to-last and Ram tied with Ford for fifth to last. Infiniti finished third to last with 203 problems, up 67 from a year earlier.
Hyundai was the most-improved brand year-over-year, and its sixth-place finish is the brand’s highest ranking in the history of the 28-year-old study. Despite their bottom-five finishes, Dodge and Ford had the second-largest gains with 21 fewer problems per 100 vehicles, while Land Rover had 20 fewer issues.
In addition to capturing two of the top three spots, Toyota Motor Corp. led all automakers with 10 segment awards, the most for any automaker in the study’s history. General Motors won four segment awards, while Mercedes, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen each received one award.
For Toyota, leading other companies in dependability could mean higher residual values, J.D. Power said.
“In the current industry environment of record levels of leasing and long-term loans, higher residual values allow automakers to provide more competitive deals to buyers,” Jonathan Banks, J.D. Power’s vice president of vehicle analysis and analytics, said in a statement. “This creates the opportunity to achieve higher market share and/or elevated profit margins.”
The study covers 177 different problems across eight defined categories.
J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study
Brand/VDS ranking (problems per 100 vehicles)
Lexus 110, Porsche 110, Toyota 123, Buick 126, Mercedes-Benz, 131, Hyundai, 133, BMW 139,
Chevrolet 142, Honda 143, Jaguar 144, Kia 148, Lincoln 150, Mini 150, GMC 151, Cadillac 152, Audi 153,
Volvo 154, Chrysler 159, Subaru 164, Volkswagen 164, Mazda 166, Acura 167, Nissan 170, Land Rover 178, Mitsubishi 182, Ford 183, Ram 183, Dodge 187, Infiniti 203, Jeep 209, Fiat 298
Most dependable models by segment
Small car, Chevrolet Sonic; Compact car: Toyota Prius; Midsize car: Toyota Camry; Midsize sporty car: Chevrolet Camaro; Midsize premium car: Lexus GS; Large car: Toyota Avalon; Compact SUV: Toyota FJ Cruiser; Small SUV: Volkswagen Tiguan; Midsize SUV: Toyota Venza; Large SUV: Chevrolet Tahoe; Compact premium SUV: Mercedes-Benz GLK class; Midsize premium SUV: Lexus RX; Large light-duty pickup: Ford F-150; Midsize pickup: Honda Ridgeline; Large heavy-duty pickup: Chevrolet Silverado HD; Minivan: Toyota Sienna; Compact multi-purpose vehicle: Toyota Prius v.