Lexus tops J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study

On Thursday  J.D. Power released the annual 2023 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study and reported a slight improvement over last year, with an industry average of 186 problems per 100 (PP100) vehicles. This is an improvement of 6 PP100 from the last report in 2022. The study examines “how 2020 model-year vehicles are currently performing in terms of quality, component replacement and appeal—including those vehicles with new technology—and helps automotive manufacturers design and build better vehicles to stand the test of time and promote higher resale value.” A lower PP100 indicates higher performance.

Mass market brands lead the improvement in performance with 182 PP100, 8 PP100 lower than a year ago and 23 PP100 lower than for premium brands (205 PP100). A driving force for the dependability disparity between the two segments is new technology introduced in vehicles. Premium brands usually have more technology, which increases complexity and the inherent likelihood of additional problems. “It is typical in the automotive industry to roll out concepts and features by putting them in premium vehicles first,” said Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power.

The three-year-old vehicles measured in this year’s study were first examined in the 2020 U.S. Initial Quality Study. Six of the 10 highest-ranked brands in the 2020 IQS are among the 10 highest-ranked brands in this year’s VDS. Starter battery failures, outdated maps, Android Auto/Apple Car Play and voice recognition problems are the predominant complaints.

The study was redesigned in 2022 to include features and technology that are available in current vehicles. It now covers 184 specific problem areas across nine major vehicle categories: climate; driving assistance; driving experience; exterior; features/controls/displays; infotainment; interior; powertrain; and seats.

Following are key findings of the 2023 study:

  • Infotainment systems continue to be most problematic: The infotainment category continues to be the most problematic with an average of 49.9 PP100—almost twice as many problems as the next-highest category, which is exterior.
  • Tie for the most dependable model: The Toyota C-HR and Lexus RX are the highest-ranked models in the study, each with 111 PP100. Both models show improvement in eight of the nine problem categories from a year ago.
  • Biggest problem solvers: The top three brands with the greatest improvement in the number of problems are Ram (77 PP100 improvement), Volvo (41 PP100 improvement) and Nissan (35 PP100 improvement).
  • Tesla officially included for the first time: Tesla is included in the industry VDS calculation this year for the first time, with a score of 242 PP100. Highest-Ranked Brands

Lexus ranks highest overall in vehicle dependability, with a score of 133 PP100. Other premium brands ranking high for vehicle dependability include Genesis (144 PP100), Cadillac (173 PP100) and BMW (184 PP100).

Kia (152 PP100) ranks highest in the mass market segment for a third consecutive year, followed by Buick (159 PP100), Chevrolet (162 PP100), Mitsubishi (167 PP100) and Toyota (168 PP100).

J.D. Power analysis shows that vehicle residual values can be significantly affected by long-term quality.

“The used-vehicle market has helped sustain dealers’ profitability in the past couple of years, but they need to know which vehicles to have on their lots,” said Jonathan Banks, vice president and general manager of vehicle valuations at J.D. Power. “Having vehicles with strong dependability scores will nurture a positive brand perception and drive foot traffic.”

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