The results of J.D. Power and Associates' 2012 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study have just been released, and there's plenty of good news for auto fans.
Power's Dependability Study looks at problems associated with vehicles that are three model-years old (so the 2012 study examined rides from the 2009 model year). Power representatives interview original owners of those vehicles to find out how many problems they've experienced over the past 12 months. For the 2012 study, J.D. Power spoke to over 31,000 vehicle owners between October and December of 2011.
To assign rankings, J.D. Power calculates the number of problems reported per hundred vehicles, or PP 100. When all the data had been crunched for 2012, the news was good for most car companies: of the 32 brands included in the 2012 Dependability Study, a whopping 25 improved on their scores from 2011, with only six losing ground and one remaining flat.
Even better for Detroit fans: domestic marques improved faster than their foreign rivals. In 2011, they averaged 18 PP 100 more than imports. In 2012, that figure was cut to 13 PP 100.
In the end, though, Toyota was the Power's big winner for 2012. The Japanese automaker's premium brand -- Lexus -- drove to the #1 spot, with 86 PP 100. Porsche, Cadillac, Toyota, and Toyota's youth-oriented Scion rounded out the top five, followed by Mercedes-Benz, Lincoln, Ford, Buick, and Hyundai.
And despite the aforementioned improvements in Detroit, Chrysler's four brands landed in the bottom four spots, with the Chrysler brand on the lowest rung at 192 PP 100. Going up, we find Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Jaguar, Infiniti, Volkswagen, Kia, Suzuki, Mazda, and MINI.
As far as specific models go, the Lexus LS had the fewest reported problems of any vehicle on the road, with 72 PP 100. Other vehicles of note include:
- Toyota Yaris (best subcompact car)
- Toyota Prius (best compact car)
- Ford Fusion (best midsize car)
- Buick Lucerne (best large car)
Why the improvements?
David Sargent, the vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates, says that while 2009 was a grim year for car sales, it was a great year for buyers: "Despite facing immense challenges in 2009, automakers placed a keen focus on delivering outstanding levels of quality, which they understood would be essential to their long-term success....Three years later, owners of these models are enjoying unprecedented levels of vehicle dependability...."
Sargent points out that that's good news for car companies, too: happy customers become repeat customers and help improve a brand's image.
And as an added bonus: if you own a vehicle from the 2009 model year, you may get more than you expect when it comes time to trade it in for a new ride.
For a complete breakdown of J.D. Power dependability scores by brand, enlarge the graphic above, or visit JDPower.com.