2011 Vehicle Dependability Study Results

Jeff Youngs | Dec 30, 2010

Measuring vehicle quality after 3 years of ownership

Vehicle Dependability Trophy

For vehicle buyers today, the importance of quality cannot be understated-especially when spending upwards of $30,000, on average, for a new vehicle. In fact, the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS) reveals that reliability/durability is the single-most-important factor when buyers are considering a new vehicle, even more so than fuel economy, interior comfort, or exterior styling. Fortunately for consumers, automakers continue to make steady gains in long-term vehicle quality across the board.

However, even with these improvements, significant differences still exist when comparing the quality of domestically produced cars and trucks to that of vehicles manufactured in Asia and Europe. According to the 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study-which details the problems reported by owners of three-year-old (2008 model year) cars and light trucks during the preceding 12 months-vehicles produced by Asian manufacturers experienced fewer problems-141 problems per 100 (PP100)-than those produced by European (159 PP100) or domestic (162 PP100) automakers. (A lower PP100 score reflects higher quality.)

"Reliability/durability is the single-most-important factor when buyers are considering a new vehicle."

Even though, according to consumers, Asian manufacturers achieve higher levels of long-term vehicle quality than do their counterparts in Europe and North America, further analysis reveals that significant differences in the levels of long-term vehicle quality exist depending on where a vehicle was built.

For example, vehicles built by Asian manufacturers in Asia achieve a score of 133 PP100, whereas those built in North America achieve a score of 146 PP100-a difference of 13 PP100. Likewise, vehicles built by European manufacturers in Europe come in at 156 PP100, whereas vehicles built by those same automakers in North America have 170 PP100-an even bigger difference of 14 PP100. This suggests that manufacturers have some work to do when it comes to making sure that quality standards are fully understood and adhered to by their overseas workforce-so that consumers on both sides of the ocean benefit from the same levels of quality.In addition, the dependability of domestically produced cars has improved at nearly twice the rate-19% over three years-as that of imported cars (10% over the same period). Conversely, the quality of imported trucks (up 12% over the last three years) has improved more than twice as fast as that of domestically produced trucks (up only 5%). Also, imported crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) hold a 7-percentage point advantage in vehicle dependability over domestically produced CUVs (16% vs. 9%, respectively).

According to the 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study, batteries are the most commonly replaced vehicle component during the third year of ownership. In all, 5.8% of survey respondents indicated that they had to replace their car or truck battery during this time, much sooner than the 4-5 year life expectancy that is sometimes indicated in advertising by battery makers. This may suggest that all of the technology found on today's vehicles, which seems to be increasing by the day, is having a negative impact on battery life. The other two most commonly replaced vehicle components were brake rotors (5%) and tire-pressure-monitoring systems (3.7%).

Following are some of the other highlights from the 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study:

Sub Compact Car
Honda Fit
Toyota Yaris
Hyundai Accent

Compact Car
Toyota Prius
Hyundai Elantra Sedan
Toyota Matrix

Compact Sporty Car
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Scion tC

Mid Car
Ford Fusion
Buick LaCrosse
Mitsubishi Galant

Mid Sporty Car
Ford Mustang

Large Car
Buick Lucerne
Ford Taurus
Chevrolet Impala

Entry Premium Car
Lincoln MKZ
Lexus ES 350
Acura TL (tie)
Acura TSX (tie)

Compact Premium Sporty Car
Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class

Mid Premium Car
Acura RL
Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Lexus GS

Large Premium Car
Cadillac DTS
Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Compact Crossover/SUV
Honda CR-V
Subaru Forester
Toyota RAV4

Compact MPV
Scion xB
Chrysler PT Cruiser

Entry Premium Crossover/SUV

Mid Crossover/SUV
Toyota 4Runner
Hyundai Santa Fe
Ford Edge

Large Crossover/SUV
Chevrolet Tahoe
GMC Yukon
Toyota Sequoia

Mid Premium Crossover/SUV
Lexus RX
Lexus GX 470
Volvo XC70

Large Premium Crossover/SUV
Lincoln Navigator
Mercedes-Benz GL-Class

Large Pickup
Toyota Tundra
Ford F-150 LD
Ram 1500 LD

Mid Pickup
Toyota Tacoma
Honda Ridgeline

Toyota Sienna
Honda Odyssey
Chevrolet Uplander


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