Cars have achieved a new level of reliability, according to the latest study by market research firm JD Power.
Lexus, Porsche and Kia topped this year’s reliability ratings. Jaguar, Alfa Romeo and Land Rover were at the bottom.
Asian brands tend to have the highest reliability scores. Domestic nameplates were in the middle but still slightly below the industry average. European brands were worse off.
Nevertheless, the Porsche 911 was ranked as the most reliable model. It is the second time in three years that sports cars rank in this ranking.
Too few unreliable vehicles
JD Power polls more than 30,000 car owners annually, asking about their experiences with their cars. The company is using the information to compile a series of reports, including the JD Power 2021 US Vehicle Certification Study released Thursday.
The study found that car dependence is at an all-time high. The number of problems reported by vehicle owners for the 2018 model is down 10% from last year’s report.
“It’s a great time to buy a three-year-old if you’re a consumer,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at JD Power. “There are very few unreliable vehicles out there.”
JD Power has conducted the study for 32 consecutive years, looking at the number of problems per 100 vehicles owners have experienced in the past 12 months.
This year’s study found that vehicle reliability has improved to its best since JD Power launched its annual report. The industry averaged 121 problems per 100 vehicles, down from 134 in 2020. The lower the score, the better.
The differences between many brands are often slight. Only three points separate Toyota, which ranks fourth, from Hyundai’s No. 7. Similarly, only eight points separate the luxury brands Cadillac, Genesis, Lincoln, Acura and BMW.
“Plus or minus two or three points is not statistically significant, but we give everyone a score,” Sargent said.
The larger jumps, Sargent said, represent differences in brand reliability that consumers may want to consider when shopping. He said the gap between the Genesis, with 102 problems per 100 vehicles, and Land Rover, with 244 is a big problem.
The study looks at 177 specific problems grouped into eight major vehicle categories: infotainment, connectivity and navigation systems. heating, ventilation and air conditioning; Engine and transmission controls and screens. driving experience; the outside; interior. and seats.
Technology is the pain point
The automakers did better in all eight categories, but gains in infotainment and connectivity were only marginal and it remains the area with the most problems.
“A lot of the weaknesses lie in the technology, the infotainment systems and the driver assistance systems,” Sargent said. “Consumers find it confusing or it doesn’t work as well as they like. They compare their car to their phone. Everything works fine on their phone, so why doesn’t it work on the car?”
Newer model year vehicles rarely have a mechanical failure.
“Rarely will a car leave you stuck on the side of the road and need to call a tow truck,” Sargent said. “Things don’t wear out or fall out of the car.”
The sedans proved to be the most reliable of the cars, with an average of 111 problems. The trucks were the worst with 130 problems. SUVs came among the 122.
Sargent said automakers should get a better handle on truck and SUV reliability because they account for 80% of retail sales of light vehicles.
Asian brands top multiple studies
JD Power’s finding that Asian brands fared better than others reflected some of the findings from Consumer Reports’ annual study on vehicle reliability, also released Thursday.
Consumer Reports also highlighted the models you like best, sorted by price segments. Eight of the magazine’s top 10 picks are Japanese nameplates, including four from Toyota and the luxury brand Lexus. Subaru had two models. Tesla was the only domestic automaker to get the top pick.
JD Power has also published a list of the best picks across multiple vehicle segments. Toyota Motor Corp won five awards in its category for the Lexus ES and Toyota Avalon sedans, Toyota Sienna minivan, Toyota Tundra Pickup and Lexus GX SUV. Lexus is Toyota’s luxury brand.
Tesla debuted in JD Power’s results, scoring 176 problems per 100 vehicles. But the market research firm said it was based only on partial data. It has not been able to officially rank Tesla among other brands because the electric vehicle manufacturer does not give JD Power permission to survey owners in 15 states where it is required, including large Tesla markets such as California. The Tesla score was calculated based on a sample of surveys of owners in the other 35 states.
Another annual JD Power metric called the American Initial Quality Study examines problems owners encounter in the first 90 days after purchasing a new car. But it’s not a strong indication that cars that rank highly for initial quality will prove durable after three years of use. Six of the top ten brands were ranked in the 2018 Initial Quality Study, with the ten highest ranked in the 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study.
Top Models: Auto Sectors
medium size car
Compact luxury car
Midsize luxury car
Medium sports car
small luxury car
Top Models: SUV Classes
Compact luxury SUV
Midsize Premium SUV
Small luxury SUV
Top Models: Parts for Pickups and Vans
Heavy Duty Big Pickup
Big light duty pickup
Medium sized pickup
These are the three best models in 18 categories of cars, SUVs, vans and vans; A segment with only two awards means that no other model performs at or above average.
There are no prizes in the 2021 category for City Car, Compact SUV, Premium Compact Sports Car, Compact Sports Car, Large Luxury Car, Large Luxury SUV, Midsize SUV and Small Car because there weren’t at least three Models in this class with 80% of the market share or four models with 67% of the market share. Rankings are based on the numerical score of 2021, not necessarily on statistical significance.
Source: JD Power 2021 US Vehicle Accreditation Study.