Toyota is a big-time leader in the 24th annual J.D. Power & Associates Vehicle Dependability study, which measures problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of three-year-old vehicles. Dependability is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.
Lexus RX has the fewest reported problems in the industry -- and that means it's the first time ever that a crossover or SUV has achieved that, per JD Power. After Lexus, Porsche, Lincoln, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz round out the top five. The greatest year-over-year improvement was achieved by Chrysler Group LLC’s Ram brand. The five brands at the bottom of the roster were Volkswagen, Jeep, Mitsubishi, Dodge and Land Rover. Just above industry average is Chevrolet; right below is Ford.
When it comes to specific segments, there is a good mix of brands in the top three of each, but Toyota Motor is dominant for most categories. For example, tops in subcompacts are Scion xD, Toyota Yaris, and Hyundai Accent. Compacts: Toyota Prius, Ford Focus and Mazda3. In midsize cars it's Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion and Buick LaCrosse. In large cars it's Buick Lucerne, Toyota Avalon and Chevy Impala. And in compact crossovers, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Toyta FJ Cruiser dominate.
In the study, based on responses from more than 37,000 original owners of 2010 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership, Toyota Motor topped more vehicle segments -- seven -- than any other automaker. Winning for their respective categories are Lexus ES 350; Lexus RX; Scion xB; Scion xD; Toyota Prius; Toyota Sienna; and Toyota RAV4.
General Motors receives four segment awards for the Buick Lucerne; Chevrolet Camaro; Chevrolet Tahoe; and GMC Sierra HD. American Honda Motor Corp., Inc. receives two model-level awards for the Acura RDX and Honda Crosstour. The Audi A6, Ford Ranger, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda MX-5 Miata, and Nissan Z also receive segment awards.
The firm says that across the industry, dependability is up 5% this year, putting dependability of three-year-old vehicles at an all-time high. And there is good news for domestics: the dependability gap between Chrysler, GM and Ford brands has narrowed by 10 problems per 100 vehicles.
Premium-segment vehicles are likely to see some loyalty problems because of an increase in the number of problems experienced -- although traditionally, owners of vehicles from luxury brands tend to be more brand loyal than for lower-tier brands. The firm says 55% of owners of premium models remain loyal to the brand when they report zero problems with their vehicle, compared with 53% of owners of non-premium models who report zero problems. But when experiencing three or more problems with their vehicle, loyalty among owners of premium models declines to 39% versus 41% among owners of non-premium models.