Vehicle dependability is the best it’s ever been, says J.D. Power
|driving.ca 22 Feb 2021 at 15:56|
Vehicles have never been better — at least, for those in the 2018 model year, according to auto data company J.D. Power. Its 2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, which looks at three-year-old vehicles, found a 10-per-cent drop in the overall level of problems from the 2020 report, which examined 2017 vehicles.
This year, Lexus was the top brand overall, as well as the top premium brand. It was in second place last year to Genesis.
For 2021, Kia soared from fourteenth place to third among all brands, and was also the top mainstream brand for its first time. Last year, that title belonged to Buick.
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The study measures the number of problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) experienced during the last 12 months by the vehicles’ original owners. The lower the PP100 score, the higher the dependability. The study covers eight major categories, including infotainment, drivetrain, exterior, interior, features and controls, climate functions, seats, and the driving experience.
“Automakers are making increasingly dependable vehicles,” said Dave Sargent, J.D. Power’s vice-president of global automotive. “But there are still some problem areas that need to be addressed, and some warning signs on the horizon. Most owners aren’t experiencing their vehicles breaking down or falling apart, but for many, vehicle technology continues to function poorly or inconsistently…In the future, dependability will partially be determined by the ability to solve problems through vehicle updates, and the avoidance of technology obsolescence.”
The industry average of all vehicle segments is 121 PP100, the lowest ever in the study’s 32-year history. Cars are the most dependable, averaging 111 PP100. Next up are SUVs at 122 PP100, while trucks averaged 130 PP100 – and those two segments currently make up 80 per cent of the American market.
Korean vehicles scored highest overall, at a combined 99 P100. The combined Japanese brands were next at 118 PP100; American brands were 126 PP100, and European brands at 131 PP100.
Tesla was included for the first time, and averaged 176 PP100. It wasn’t officially ranked, because 15 states require an automaker’s permission for its customers to be surveyed and Tesla said “no” in all of them, but there were enough surveys from owners in other states to give it a rating.
Here are the five top brands overall, along with five that brought up the rear. If an automaker has more than one brand, J.D. Power rates each one individually.
The brand came in at 81 PP100, enough to top both the overall and premium standings. That’s an improvement from the 100 PP100 noted by the 2020 study – which looked at the 2017 Lexus lineup – when it came second to Genesis in both standings. Lexus also earned individual dependability awards for the ES and GX.
Not only did Porsche take the second-place spot overall, but the 911 was named the most dependable individual model in the study. That’s the second time in three years that the 911 has earned that title. Porsche’s brand score of 86 PP100 was an improvement over the 104 PP100 that put it in fourth place overall in the 2020 study.
Kia’s score of 97 PP100 was a considerable improvement over its 132 PP100 in the 2020 study, which placed it third overall this time, and also tops among all mainstream brands. The Optima, Sorento, and Sportage also earned individual awards.
Its score of 98 PP100 was an improvement over its 113 PP100 in last year’s study, where it ranked fifth overall. In the 2021 study, the Avalon, Sienna, and Tundra received individual dependability awards.
These two GM brands each scored 100 PP100. That was an improvement from Buick’s 103 PP100 in the 2020 study, and Cadillac’s 131 PP100. J.D. Power said that Cadillac, Acura, Hyundai, and Mitsubishi showed the most improvement from the 2020 to 2021 study. Buick won an individual award for its Envision.
Incidentally, to round out the top ten (or eleven, with the tie), the next five down on the list, in order, were Hyundai, Genesis, Lincoln, Acura, and BMW. At the other end, here are the five lowest scores—
The British brand racked up 244 PP100 to put it in the bottom spot. It occupied the same place in the 2020 study, but with 220 PP100 that year. In 2019 it finished second from the bottom, when Land Rover had 221 PP100 but Fiat had 249 PP100. That Italian brand isn’t included in the 2021 study.
Fiat dropped off the list for 2021, but its sibling Alfa Romeo made its debut in this study, ranking second from last with a score of 196 PP100.
Jaguar and its sister company Land Rover sandwiched Alfa Romeo in the 2021 study. The British feline scored 186 PP100. That’s the same number of problems, and the same third-from-last standing, that it received in the 2020 study.
The American automaker came in fourth from the bottom with 166 PP100. That was an improvement over the 2020 study, where it was second-last with 214 PP100; but in 2019, it was much higher up the scale, with only 146 PP100.
The German company scored 163 PP100. That fifth-from-the-bottom marked a considerable fall from the 2020 study, where its score of 116 PP100 placed it sixth from the top. The next five brands up the ladder, in order, were Honda, Volvo , GMC, Jeep, and Infiniti.