J.D. Power Ranks Prius as Most Reliable ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: J.D. Power Ranks Prius as Most Reliable

Thursday, August 07, 2008

J.D. Power Ranks Prius as Most Reliable

The Toyota Prius was first in reliability in the Compact Car segment, with 141 PP100 (problems per 100 vehicles) in the most recent J.D. Power survey. That makes it one of the most reliable cars on the road, which is even more remarkable given the number of tech toys in the Prius.

You could probably guess that Lexus was the number one brand on the list, but would you be able to guess Mercury would come in second?  Cadillac came in third, while Toyota came in fourth.

The study asks the original owners of 2005 model year vehicles three years later.  Not surprisingly, as the number of issues climbs, the satisfaction level drops, and so does the customers likelihood of buying from the same brand or recommending the vehicle to a friend.

Press Release Follows:

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Aug. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Deterioration in vehicle quality during the first three years of ownership -- determined by comparing long-term dependability rates to initial quality problem rates -- strongly affects overall customer satisfaction as well as customer willingness to recommend their vehicle model, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Vehicle Dependability Study(SM) (VDS) released today.

The study, which measures problems experienced by original owners of 3-year-old (2005 model year) vehicles, finds that, on average, customers report experiencing 75 percent more problems in the third year of ownership than during the first 90 days. Those models with the largest increase in problem levels show the most pronounced declines in satisfaction and the likelihood of owners to recommend their vehicle model. In addition, while no model has fewer reported problems in the third year of ownership compared with the first three months, those models that average less than 35 percent problem growth actually demonstrate improvement in overall satisfaction during the three-year period.

"Understanding and minimizing quality deterioration is critical for manufacturers, as it is a key driver of owner satisfaction and word of mouth recommendations," said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. "It is imperative that manufacturers design models that not only achieve high levels of initial quality but also attain high levels of longer-term dependability. Vehicle models that stand the test of time will help automaker profitability through superior owner satisfaction and recommendation rates."

The study also finds that five of the top 10 problems reported industry-wide in the 2008 Vehicle Dependability Study were also among the top 10 most frequently reported problems in the 2005 Initial Quality Study, suggesting that the problems are identified by owners during the initial ownership period, but have not been rectified by automakers during the three-year ownership period.

The problems include:
1. Excessive wind noise
2. Noisy brakes
3. Vehicle pulling to the left or right
4. Issues with the instrument panel/dashboard
5. Excessive window fogging

"Although automakers have achieved tremendous gains in initial quality and dependability in recent years by specifically addressing customer concerns, these particular problems still prove challenging for manufacturers," said Sargent. "The fact that these problems have endured throughout the industry for many years suggests that additional focus on these issues prior to vehicle launch would benefit not only consumers, but also automakers through increased customer satisfaction."

For a 14th consecutive year, Lexus ranks highest in vehicle dependability, improving by 25 problems per 100 vehicles since 2007 to achieve a score of 120 PP100. Following in the top five rankings are Mercury, Cadillac, Toyota and Acura, respectively.

In addition, Lexus garners six segment awards -- the most of any nameplate in 2008 -- for the ES 330, GX 470, IS 300, LS 430, LX 470 and SC 430. Toyota follows with five segment awards for the Highlander, Prius, RAV4, Sequoia, and Tundra. Ford and Honda each capture two awards. Ford models receiving awards are the Crown Victoria and Ranger, while Honda earns awards for the Element and S2000. Models by Buick, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Mazda and Mercury each rank highest in one segment.

SAAB is the most improved brand in the study, although it continues to rank below the industry average. SAAB improves by 65 PP100 since 2007.

The study finds that long-term vehicle quality has improved by 5 percent industry-wide in 2008 -- with an overall decrease of 10 problems per 100 vehicles -- compared with 2007. More than 60 percent of the 38 nameplates included in the study improve in 2008, compared with 2007. Among the 19 segments included in the study, the midsize premium MAV segment demonstrates the most improvement in 2008 -- 36 PP100 fewer than in 2007. The compact car and midsize car segments also have much lower problem levels in 2008 than in 2007, and together account for more than one-half of the overall industry improvement.

"The gains in dependability for compact and midsize vehicles are good news for consumers who are downsizing their vehicles due to increasing fuel prices," said Sargent. "Consumers who purchase these smaller vehicles benefit not only from immediate gains in fuel economy, but also from improvements in long-term dependability, compared with previous years."

The 2008 Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from more than 52,000 original owners of 2005 model-year vehicles. The study was fielded from January through April 2008.

Find more detailed findings on vehicle dependability as well as model photos and specs by watching a video, reading an article and reviewing brand and segment dependability ratings at JDPower.com.

2008 Nameplate VDS Ranking
    Problems Per 100 Vehicles
    Lexus                120
    Mercury              151
    Cadillac             155
    Toyota               159
    Acura                160
    Buick                163
    BMW                  164
    Lincoln              165
    Honda                177
    Jaguar               178
    Porsche              193
    Mitsubishi           197
    Hyundai              200
    Ford                 204
    Infiniti             204
    Industry Average     206
    Audi                 207
    Mercedes-Benz        215
    Nissan               224
    Pontiac              225
    GMC                  226
    Mazda                228
    Subaru               228
    Chrysler             229
    Dodge                230
    MINI                 233
    Chevrolet            239
    HUMMER               241
    Scion                243
    Volvo                244
    Saturn               250
    Jeep                 253
    Volkswagen           253
    SAAB                 254
    Isuzu                274
    Kia                  278
    Suzuki               302
    Land Rover           344
    Note: Maserati is included in the study but not ranked due to small
sample size.

    Top Three Models per Segment
    Car Segments

    Sub-Compact Car
    Highest Ranked: Hyundai Accent
      Scion xA
      Chevrolet Aveo

    Compact Car
    Highest Ranked: Toyota Prius
      Mitsubishi Lancer
      Toyota Corolla

    Compact Sporty Car
    Highest Ranked: Mazda Miata
      Toyota Celica
      Subaru Outback Sport

    Midsize Sporty Car
    Highest Ranked: Chevrolet Monte Carlo
      Toyota Camry Solara Coupe/Convertible
      Mitsubishi Eclipse

    Midsize Car
    Highest Ranked: Buick Century
      Mercury Sable
      Toyota Camry Sedan

    Large Car
    Highest Ranked: Ford Crown Victoria
      Mercury Grand Marquis
      Buick Park Avenue

    Compact Premium Sporty Car
    Highest Ranked: Honda S2000
      BMW Z4 (tie)
      Porsche Boxster (tie)

    Entry Premium Vehicle
    Highest Ranked: Lexus IS 300/IS 300 SportCross
      BMW 3 Series
      BMW X3

    Midsize Premium Car
    Highest Ranked: Lexus ES 330
      Lexus GS 300/GS 430
      Acura RL

    Large Premium Car
    Highest Ranked: Lexus LS 430
      Lincoln Town Car
      Cadillac DeVille

    Premium Sporty Car
    Highest Ranked: Lexus SC 430
      Ford Thunderbird
      Porsche 911

    Top Three Models per Segment
    Truck / Multi-Activity Vehicle (MAV) Segments

    Compact MAV
    Highest Ranked: Honda Element (tie)
      Toyota RAV4 (tie)
      Honda CR-V

    Midsize MAV
    Highest Ranked: Toyota Highlander
      Buick Rainier
      Mercury Mountaineer

    Large MAV
    Highest Ranked: Toyota Sequoia
      Chevrolet Suburban
      Ford Excursion

    Large Pickup
    Highest Ranked: Toyota Tundra
      Ford F-150 LD
      Dodge Ram Pickup LD

    Midsize Pickup
    Highest Ranked: Ford Ranger
      Toyota Tacoma
      Dodge Dakota

    Highest Ranked: Mercury Monterey
      Ford E-Series
      GMC Savana

    Midsize Premium MAV
    Highest Ranked: Lexus GX 470
      Lexus RX 330
      Volvo XC70

    Large Premium MAV
    Highest Ranked: Lexus LX 470
      Cadillac Escalade EXT
      Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

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