In a study released Thursday, British luxury carmaker Jaguar surged to the top of J.D. Power and Associates' closely watched vehicle dependability study this year, tying Buick for the No. 1 spot and dethroning Lexus for the first time since the Japanese luxury brand has been a part of the survey.
NEW YORK – British luxury carmaker Jaguar surged to the top of J.D. Power and Associates’ closely watched vehicle dependability study this year, tying Buick for the No. 1 spot and dethroning Lexus for the first time since the Japanese luxury brand has been a part of the survey.
Lexus, Toyota Motor Corp.’s luxury brand, took the next spot in the study released Thursday, followed by Toyota’s namesake brand, then Mercury, Infiniti and Acura.
“Buick and Jaguar both lead the industry in nameplate performance,” said Neal Oddes, director of product research and analysis at J.D. Power. “In terms of individual model performance, Lexus and Toyota still do very, very well.”
The annual study measures problems experienced by the original owners of vehicles after three years. Suzuki owners reported the most problems among the 37 brands assessed by J.D. Power.
Despite losing its crown to Jaguar and Buick, Lexus still swept top awards in four segments, while Toyota’s namesake brand took five awards. General Motors Corp.’s Buick LaCrosse was J.D. Power’s top midsize car, while Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln brand took two awards. Chrysler LLC, which took no segment awards last year, won top honors for its Dodge Caravan in the van segment.
Jaguar’s sudden jump to the top from its No. 10 spot in 2008 was notable for a study that is fairly consistent from year to year. Oddes said the brand has made significant improvements across many areas.
“We see improvements all over the board with Jaguar,” Oddes said, citing fewer reported problems with vehicle exterior, sound system and the overall driving experience. “The improvement at a nameplate level is significant.”
Still, Jaguar, which Indian car giant Tata Motors Ltd. bought from Ford in 2007, remains a relatively small-volume brand in the U.S. It sold just 14,000 vehicles here in 2008, while Buick sold 128,000.
Oddes said this year’s study was redesigned to exclude routine fixes from a vehicle’s list of problems. For example, the study no longer counts tire or windshield wiper replacements as a reportable problem. The intended result is a study that focuses on actual glitches with a vehicle, Oddes said, though it also makes it difficult to make year-over-year comparisons.
“We cleaned up the survey to really try to focus in on things that are truly broken,” he said.
The industry average was 170 problems per 100 vehicles, or somewhat less than two problems per vehicle. Last year, the industry average was 206 problems per 100 vehicles, but year-over-year improvements this year are much less pronounced when accounting for the changes in the study’s methodology, Oddes said.
The most frequently reported problem was wind noise, followed by brake noise, peeling paint, brake vibrations and problems with a vehicle’s lights, Oddes said. The problems have been fairly consistent from year to year, he said.
J.D. Power’s dependability study surveyed 46,313 original owners of 2006 model-year vehicles in October 2008. The results are watched closely by automakers and are often used in advertising. Owners’ opinion of a car after three years can be a major influence on their opinion to buy that brand again.
The firm also releases an initial quality study, which measures problems in the first 90 days of ownership.
JD POWER RANKINGS
J.D. Power and Associates on Thursday released its annual survey of vehicle dependability based on questionnaires sent to owners of 2006 model-year vehicles.
The list includes the top performers and runners-up in each category. An MAV, or multi-activity vehicle, refers to sport utility vehicles and crossovers.
• Highest ranked: Scion xA
• Runners-up: Suzuki Aerio, Chevrolet Aveo
• Highest ranked: Toyota Prius
• Runners-up: Toyota Matrix, Pontiac Vibe
Compact Sporty Car
• Highest ranked: Mazda MX-5 Miata
• Runners-up: Subaru Impreza, Pontiac Solstice Convertible
Midsize Sporty Car
• Highest ranked: Toyota Solara
• Runners-up: Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Ford Mustang
• Highest ranked: Buick LaCrosse
• Runners-up: Toyota Camry, Mercury Milan
• Highest ranked: Mercury Grand Marquis
• Runners-up: Buick Lucerne, Mercury Montego
Compact Premium Sporty Car
• Highest ranked: Nissan 350Z
• Runners-up: Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class, Acura RSX
Entry Premium Vehicle
• Highest ranked: Lincoln Zephyr
• Runners-up: Cadillac CTS, Infiniti G-Series
Midsize Premium Car
• Highest ranked: Acura RL, Lexus ES330 (tie)
• Runner-up: Infiniti M-Series
Large Premium Car
• Highest ranked: Lexus LS430
• Runners-up: Lincoln Town Car, Cadillac DTS
Premium Sporty Car
• Highest ranked: Lexus SC 430
• Runners-up: Porsche 911, Chevrolet Corvette
• Highest ranked: Honda Element
• Runners-up: Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander
• Highest ranked: Toyota Highlander
• Runners-up: Toyota 4Runner, Buick Rainier
• Highest ranked: Toyota Sequoia
• Runners-up: Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition
• Highest ranked: Toyota Tundra
• Runners-up: Ford F-150 LD, GMC Sierra LD
• Highest ranked: Ford Ranger
• Runners-up: Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma
• Highest ranked: Dodge Caravan
• Runners-up: Ford Freestar, Toyota Sienna
Midsize Premium MAV
• Highest ranked: Lexus GX 470
• Runners-up: Acura MDX, Lexus RX 330/RX400h
Large Premium MAV
• Highest ranked: Lincoln Mark LT
• Runners-up: Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Lincoln Navigator
The Associated Press