DETROIT (AP) _ Buick tied with Lexus as the highest-ranking brand
in a closely watched study of vehicle dependability, marking the
first time in 12 years that Lexus has shared the top award, J.D.
Power and Associates said Thursday.
Cadillac, Mercury and Honda rounded out the top five brands in
the annual survey, which measures problems experienced by the
original owners of three-year-old vehicles. Both Buick and Lexus had
145 problems per 100 vehicles. The worst-performing brand, Land
Rover, had 398 problems. The industry average was 216 problems, down
from 227 problems in last year's survey.
``People don't have to necessarily spend premium money to get
equal value,'' said Neal Oddes, director of product research and
analysis for J.D. Power. ``That's good news for people.''
That's also good news for General Motors Corp. GM vice-chairman
Bob Lutz said the automaker is moving toward its goal of Buick
becoming a direct competitor to Lexus, with the same level of
quality and elegance _ but selling for $10,000 to $15,000 less.
``Increasingly it's becoming evident that it's exactly coming out
the way we planned,'' he said Thursday.
An official with Toyota Motor Corp., which owns Lexus, says the
company is pleased that its Toyota, Lexus and Scion divisions took
10 of 19 segment awards and doesn't see a problem when other
``It's always good to see the industry ... as a whole perform
better than prior years _ that's a positive trend for consumers,''
Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager for the Toyota
division, said Thursday.
``It continues to push the benchmarks even higher.''
The 2007 survey is based on the responses of 53,000 owners of
2004 model year vehicles. The survey gives all problems equal
Oddes said the most frequent problem cited is wind noise,
followed by noisy brakes, seat belts that fail to retract, poor ride
handling and uneven wear on tires. Oddes said complaints about seats
and interiors rose slightly this time around, but in most
categories, complaints were down.
In segment breakdowns, Lexus had five winners, including the
midsize GS 300 and LS 430 sedan, while Toyota had four, including
the Tundra and Tacoma pickups. The most-improved brand in the 2007
survey was Hummer, which improved its score to 242 problems per 100
vehicles from 307 last year. The most-improved vehicles were the
Volvo XC90 and Audi A6, which both eliminated 104 problems, Oddes
The survey found that 65 per cent of owners experienced one or
more problems that required components to be replaced. Oddes said
owners understand that some parts, such as brake pads, need to be
replaced, but if they have to replace expensive items such as
transmissions or if they have to replace smaller parts more often
than they expect, they will keep their vehicle an average of one
year less and will be less likely to consider that brand in the
Oddes said vehicles with strong dependability numbers can retain
up to 15 per cent more of their value over three years. That helps
consumers selling used vehicles as well as automakers and dealers,
which may be able to sell a dependable vehicle two or three times
over its lifetime.
J.D. Power's results are watched closely by automakers and are
often used in advertising. The firm also releases an initial quality
study, which measures problems in the first 90 days of ownership,
but the dependability results are important to automakers because
the way owners feel about their vehicles after three years can have
a big impact on their decision to buy another vehicle of that brand.
On the Net:
J.D. Power, http://www.jdpower.com