Tying for first place in the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Vehicle Dependability Study are Buick and Jaguar. The jump is a big one for Buick, from sixth place last year, and an even bigger one for Jaguar. The former Ford brand was in 10th place last year. Following in the top five rankings this year, Lexus is second place, followed by sibling Toyota, with Ford's Mercury brand in fifth place.
Buick was tied for No. 1 in 2007 with Lexus, and has been in the Top 10 for seven consecutive years, per Dave Sargent, VP auto research at J.D. Power.
He says vehicle dependability has become more important because the average trade-in period has grown to 73 months. "So it's basically six years, and that number has gone up over the last few months," he says. "In an environment where people are holding cars longer, dependability becomes ever more important because people want to avoid repair."
Sargent says automakers have improved long-term dependability by an average of 10% each year since the inception of the study, "And because vehicle dependability has gotten better overall during the past few years they feel more comfortable holding on to their cars for longer."
In the study, Toyota won five awards, more than any other brand for-- in its respective segments--the Highlander, Prius, Sequoia, Solara and Tundra. And Lexus, while not number one overall, had four vehicles that won in their respective segments: ES 330, GX 470, LS 430 and SC 430. Ford's Lincoln division won for the Mark LT and Zephyr. Acura, Buick, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Mercury, Nissan and Scion won in one segment each.
The yearly study, based on responses from over 46,000 original owners of 2006 model-year vehicles, was fielded in October last year. It rates vehicles by the problems experienced by original owners after three years of ownership.
Sargent says the study reflects the satisfaction people have with vehicles at the top of the lists in the study. "And those people are likely to repurchase, and also more likely to recommend the car. Most consumers are educated and use lots of different sources, and this will be one of them."