By on March 19, 2009

Is is that time again? The time when the MSM drinks copious amounts of Kool-Aid labeled J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability survey (VDS)? Assuming that there are TTAC readers who’ve joined us in the interim, let’s consider a couple of salient facts (as taught to us by Michael Karesh at the no-longer-TTAC-affiliated TrueDelta). First, the differences between brands in J.D.’s VDS is insignificant. Buick has 122 problems per 100 vehicles while Lexus has (shock!) 126 problems per vehicle. In the real world, this doesn’t mean you’re less or more likely to experience a problem in YOUR Buick or YOUR Lexus.

That’s because, second, J.D.’s boyz don’t break out the problems by model—the stat represents an average of both “good” and “bad” models. Third, define “problems.” J.D.’s mob doesn’t define a problem as “an issue requiring a dealer’s attention.” As we all know, there are bits that break off and then there are wallet-bashing, time-soaking mechanical meltdowns. In J.D.’s eyes, it’s all much of a muchness. See you same time next year.

Oh, and what’s with Autoblog et al.’s Lexus bashing? The AP headline claims Lexus was “dethroned.” Yes, well, six of the top ten vehicles on the J.D. VDS are Toyotas. Put that in your statistical crack pipe and smoke it.

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84 Comments on “J.D. Power: Buick and Jaguar Top Lexus for Dependability. And?...”


  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    Another point which is always glossed over is that Lexus (almost certainly) make more cars per month than Jaguar and Buick put together. Which puts Lexus’ problems per car into perspective.

    Still, Go Jaguar! :O)

  • avatar
    Quentin

    JD Power does break it down much more than said press release. They actually have an amazingly elaborate spreadsheet where you can compare models, brands, assembly plants, types of problems (exterior, HVAC, engine/trans, etc.), and even sample sizes. I have access to it via my place of work.

    Edit: comparing Buick to Lexus, Lexus bests Buick in every catagory other than Audio/Entertainment/Navigation (biggest deviation) and Seats as far as PPH. Lexus is slightly better in exterior, driving experience, features/controls/display, HVAC, interior, engine/trans, and other.

  • avatar
    Boston

    Jaguar – wtf? There is a big wave of complaints on the internet about the XF.

    I also find it hard to believe that Chrysler is better than average. I’m sure that is going to make it into the advertisements.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Quentin, is there anywhere we could grab that spreadsheet? That would be great data to see, it would settle a lot of arguments on TTAC. (or start them).

  • avatar
    200k-min

    If Lexus and Toyota are near the top why is Scion down at the bottom?

    I see Volkswagen is taking up the rear….again.

  • avatar
    br549

    If it’s no big deal that Buick tops the list, then how is it significant that Toyota has a dominating presence? I’ve said it before. You can’t have it both ways: live by the survey and die by the survey.

  • avatar
    akear

    A good showing for the last of the true American cars. The Lacrosse (W-body) and Lucerne (G-body) are one of the few remaining US platforms left in GM’s lineup. When Buick switches over to opel platforms we can look forward to failure. Remember, what happened to Saturn awaits Buick.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    JDP has mentioned that their studies usually have a 5 point margin of error, so Buick’s victory is statistically insignificant. Yet, it’s being trumpeted as a major victory.

    Statistics and lies, indeed. How about a picture of [a] Bikini to boot?

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    If a Jaguar is more reliable than a Lexus, I’ll eat one.

  • avatar
    MrDot

    Poor Suzuki. Their reputation is forever ruined by those awful Daewoo rebadges they sell here to fill out their model lineup.

  • avatar
    mikey610

    If Lexus and Toyota are near the top why is Scion down at the bottom?

    I think there is a pretty big buyer-age bias here. If you take average buyer age for these brands, it would look almost exactly the opposite of this ranking….

  • avatar

    MrDot

    Well exactly. The SX4 is a terrific vehicle. I doubt it’s as unreliable as its stablemates.

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    JD Power means nothing, really, but it’s nice to not see Lexus at the top. They’re not as great as most people think they are. Not to mention the boredom of driving one.

  • avatar
    snabster

    My parents bought a new Lexus RX. Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to visit and check it out. What impressed me, when I opened, the hood, was the five inspection stickers on the battery cable. The wrappings on the cable were world class. Not sure it will do anything in the long run, and maybe it marketing, but impressive.

    On the other hand, my 97 SAAB had two battery failures when new. Bad. But my brake rotors and pads lasted until 100K.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    I’ve got no evidence to support the following opinion but here goes:

    The vast majority of new car problems are software/electrical problems. I personally have owned multiple cars that have needed firmware updates to resolve engine/transmission issues.

    I’m an IT guy, so I’m familiar with the philosophy of “ship it, we’ll fix the bugs with updates”.

    Cars with less “gadgetry” are less likely to have these types of gremlins.

    I suspect that Buicks these days are pretty modest when it comes to high-tech content, and therefore, have less problems in this regard.

    What the hell is going on at VW? My MKV GTI has been a peach – unlike my last two VWs.

    -ted

  • avatar

    Even knowing that J.D.’s survey encourages anyone to report just about anything as a “problem”–nit pickers get a field day–I’m surprised to see Scion and Mazda so low.

    Boston: this is a study of the third year of ownership. There aren’t many XFs in their third year of ownership. None, actually.

    friedclams: there’s no way to grab Quentin’s spreadsheet without getting Quentin’s employer in deep doo-doo with JD. They pay a ton of money for that spreadsheet, and the license prohibits external distribution. Which is one of my major issues with JD: their business model prohibits them from providing much detail to the general public.

  • avatar
    brownie

    I’m so over using JD Power as a barometer for reliability. Resale value – that’s the way forward.

  • avatar
    LXbuilder

    I also find it hard to believe that Chrysler is better than average. I’m sure that is going to make it into the advertisements.

    Chrysler brand only really has three cars, the Town & Country, 300, and Sebring. Given that the vans generally perform above average, as does the 300, maybe every car journalists favorite pissing post does perform adiqute for some buyers.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    Finding hard to believe that Chrysler is more reliable then a BMW.
    I guess that’s why Chrysler has higher resale value NOT!
    Also don’t see BMW asking for any bailout money.

  • avatar
    CommanderFish

    Why IS Mazda that low? The only difference between their own lineup and Ford’s (really) are the RX-8 and the Miata. Do they consider the Wankel burning all that oil a problem or what?

    The only thing I can really take away from this is that Volkswagens, Land Rovers, and Suzukis are problematic. Everything else seems to be that way for other reasons.

    Lexus and Toyota near the top while Scion is near the bottom, despite being made in some of the same factories

    Buick and Cadillac outperforming Chevy, GMC, and Pontiac even though they’re, once again, made in the same factories

    Mercury and Lincoln outperforming Ford, see above, and all three outperforming Volvo and Mazda, even though they share platforms in many cases.

    Chrysler outperforming Dodge and Jeep, see above.

    That is just silly if you ask me.

  • avatar
    Boston

    Ah, gotcha – thx Karesh. It would be interesting to put this side by side the initial quality survey from the 3 years ago if someone has the time.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    I’ve never been able to take J.D. Powers seriously.

    Tell me again that Scion has the same dependability as SAAB.

    Who ARE these people? Have they no shame?

  • avatar
    energetik9

    My common sense tells me that these results are suspect at best. As mentioned above, JDP works a 5 point +/- margin of error. Meaning any one of these “standings” can easily be inflated or deflated.

    Take it for what it is. Just a sampling. It’s no different than when reading consumer reports. You have to take into account the target audience, the nature of the person that will take the time to fill out and submit a survey and the fact that some have high….and some have low expectations. I would also argue that the results would be naturally skewed as a Buick owner and a Porsche owner have different expectations when it comes to their purchase and the “problems” they experience.

  • avatar
    segfault

    So, these are 2005-2006 model year cars? By then, Volkswagen was well into their “yes, we’ve had some quality issues in the past, but they’re all fixed now” phase. Guess “fixing” the quality problems involved them scoring below Land Rover.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    Flawed as this survey might be, it still tells me Buick is a pretty good car. GM management is what sucks.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The Lacrosse (W-body) and Lucerne (G-body) are one of the few remaining US platforms left in GM’s lineup.

    The W-Body is built in Canada, and Buick’s reliability ratings are almost solely on the back of the W, not the less-than-solid G-Bodies or any of the trucklets. The W is not a young chassis, and you’d hope (accurately so, as the Impala and Grand Prix were also very solid) that the design and assembly problems were long since weeded out.

    Lexus, on the other hand, manages to build cars that range from “pretty complex” (ES, IS) to “hideously complex” (LS-h, GS-h). This also speaks interestingly of Jaguar, because they’ve similar levels of complexity, though a little more transparency would be enlightening: I’ve heard mixed reviews of the XF (even press cars have been glitchy) and the X-Type hasn’t been statistically stellar. Either they’ve really pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, or we’re missing something.

  • avatar

    These are 2006s.

    Which brings up a key point. One variable accounts for Buick and Jaguar placing ahead of Lexus: the number of models in their first year in 2006. Zero for Buick and Jaguar, two for Lexus (GS and IS).

    Buick might take a hit in two years, when this study includes the Enclave.

    Jaguar might take a hit next year, when the 2007 XK is included, and will definitely take a hit in three years, when the 2009 XF is included.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Some of this has to be the tyranny of low expecations. I expect that a Buick driver is grateful if the car starts when he turns the key, can manage expressway speeds, turns more or less in accord with the steering, thebrakes make some effort at slowing the car when applied and that he doesn’t have to actually refill the vital fluids more often than he has to fuel the vehicle.

    A Lexus owner, on the other hand, will likely complain about the feel of the radio buttons (“I expected a crisper ‘click’ when I pushed the ‘power’ button”).

  • avatar

    psarhjinian:

    The brand averages are sales-weighted. By 2006 X-Types weren’t selling all that well. And no XFs were included, since none of them are three years old.

    It’s quite possible for 2006 Jaguars to have had relatively few problems in their third year while XFs have a lot of problems in their first year. Both can be true. There’s no contradiction here.

    Also, note that by focusing on the third year they’re only reporting on cars that are still under warranty. Problems become considerably more likely after the warranty period.

  • avatar
    windswords

    Boston:
    March 19th, 2009 at 7:44 am

    “I also find it hard to believe that Chrysler is better than average. I’m sure that is going to make it into the advertisements.”

    Not only was it better than average but it was better than Mercedes, which was *below* average.

    …(I’m gloating)… But really, Mercedes reliability has not been all that for many years now. They were worse than Chrysler when they took them over and the press thought they were gonna teach those dumb Americans (and Canadians) how to make more reliable cars.

  • avatar
    windswords

    If VW is so bad, why is Audi so good? Are they not made in the same factories?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    If it’s no big deal that Buick tops the list, then how is it significant that Toyota has a dominating presence?

    I’ve posted about this issue before. There is a contradiction between the high rankings of the Cadillac and Buick brands on the survey and the rankings of the individual nameplates on the same survey.

    For example, here are the all of the cars that received a five-star rating for “overall dependability” in the same survey:

    Acura MDX
    Acura RL
    Buick LaCrosse
    Buick Lucerne
    Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan
    Ford Freestar
    Ford Ranger
    Honda Accord
    Honda CR-V
    Honda Element
    Lexus ES 330
    Lexus GX 470
    Lexus LS 430
    Lexus RX 330/RX 400h
    Lexus SC 430
    Lincoln Mark LT
    Lincoln Zephyr
    Mazda MX-5 Miata
    Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
    Mercury Grand Marquis
    Mercury Milan
    Mercury Montego
    Mitsubishi Outlander
    Nissan 350Z
    Pontiac Vibe
    Scion xA
    Toyota 4Runner
    Toyota Camry
    Toyota Highlander
    Toyota Matrix
    Toyota Prius
    Toyota Sequoia
    Toyota Solara
    Toyota Tundra

    Compare that list of vehicles to the brand ranking above, and the correlation appears to be a bit lacking. Toyota products dominate that list, followed by Ford and Honda, while the other manufacturers barely get a mention.

    (I suspect that the Buicks may benefit from having some of the oldest owners on the road. They don’t drive as much, so they are not going to have as many of the problems that tend to crop up as miles accumulate. I’d be interested to see average mileage per vehicle surveyed to see how they compare.)

  • avatar
    akear

    The W-body has been built all over North America. They premiered in late 1987 underpinning the, Regal, Cutlass Supreme, Lumina/Impala, and later the Pontiac Grand Prix. The principal engineering for the W-body was done in Detroit.

    Last year the Impala was the best selling American car.

    The reason GM may not be advertising this strong showing from Buick, is that they know most of the current Buick cars will be long gone within five years. I find it amusing that that two aging cars like the Lacrosse and Lucerne are among the most reliable in GM’s lineup.
    Saturn with their “modern” Opel lineup is near the bottom of the survey.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    *Scion fan warning*

    I don’t believe Scion has 82% more problems than a Jag.

    Mercury’s inclusion is a statistical event only – they hardly sell any cars.

    Volkswagen – I do believe that one.

  • avatar

    Mazda always seems to get killed in this report. I’ve owned a couple, most recently a 2005 Mazda3. That car was so fun to drive but when things went wrong they were always obscure problems that took several visits to the dealer to resolve. I wonder if their real problem is a failure to disseminate current repair info through their network. After unexplained radio and clock re-sets and a dashboard light show the culprit was found to be a faulty wiring harness. I brought it to the attention of the tech after a little search through forums and sites like TTAC.

  • avatar
    RetardedSparks

    Well, you’d think there’s a huge difference if the margin of error is 5 points, or +/- 5 points. But really, the numbers show a few big jumps: Merc – Infiniti, Porsche – Audi, GMC – Mercedes, etc.

    So you can pretty much break this into 6 or so classes, where the order within the class is statistically interchangeable. Seems their sin is in trying to split hairs so finely, while also being so broad regarding models, etc.

    So, yeah, worthless.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    Robert, while TrueDelta may be more consumer friendly, it his data is not usable for the sake of making valid business decisions at the auto-level. Karesh offers some free Chardonnay but it could be spiked all the same as the Detroit Kool-Aid.

    As Quentin points out, JD Power provides their entire dataset obtained during their surveys to those who purchase their results. This means automakers see the survey that was conducted; they see the results by brand by nameplate of each question; they see comparisons of change versus the prior periods; they see comparisons versus the segment average; and they see comparisons versus the segment leader. And all this is at the component level so a group working on brake systems gets unique insight versus the group working on powertrain or HVAC.

    Karesh gives customers an “all in” quality metric based on issues and mechanic visits. JD Power’s results give you insight into whether or not the little change you made the wiper motor put you back in line with wiper performance reliability versus everyone else combined. You’ll have some metrics to see if your radios are more reliable than those sold by Honda. You can see how the brake system in your half-ton stacks up with other half tons.

    JD Power really is useless for consumer decision making. But their results are important as a means for automakers to gauge their performance against each other.

    Automakers consist of thousands of people who need to be coordinated to solve problems. It’s not just a matter of waving a wand and screaming “make the cars more reliable damnit!” If you don’t know which problems to chase then you’ll be wasting millions of dollars.

    Yes, an individual automaker keeps its own warranty info, but using yourself as a benchmark isn’t very effective in the long term.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “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.”

    “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.”

    Now hold on there, the study was redesigned this year, yet they claim to be consistent from year to year.

    The whole focus on visits, trips, problems, etc. is completely misplaced in my view. The two things which really matter to a vehicle owner are the amount of money spent keeping the vehicle going and the amount of time you have to do without it. Replacing a burned out brake light bulb is not of similar consequence to needing a $1000 brake control module replacement. As far as the publicly touted JDP results go, both are equal weight. Just dumb.

    The range of 1.2 “problems” per vehicle from the best to 2.6 for the worst is so narrow as to make the results meaningless. How many repair attempts do these problems represent? How much did it cost? 1.2 Jaguar “problems” could very well be many times more costly than 2.6 Suzuki problems … it all depends what they were!

    As a potential buyer, what I would want to know is how many days I am likely to be without my car and how much extra money it is likely to shake out of my wallet.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    mikey610 hit the nail on the head: “I think there is a pretty big buyer-age bias here.”

    It would be very interesting to plot the JDP rating against weighted-average owner age. Mercury better than Ford? Nah, same cars built in the same factories. That 134 vs. 159 result is probably due to average owner age, not a difference in the vehicles.

    Toyota near the top, Scion near the bottom? The kids beat the snot out of their Scions and have a better memory for what happened when filling out the survey.

    Hopefully the FDA will never adopt JDP’s methodology when it comes to drug approvals!

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    What jumped out at me was that Toyota and Lexus are statistically identical, as are Honda and Acura. Yet Infiniti ranks very highly, and parent Nissan is wallowing in the cellar with the Mitsubishis and Dodges of the world. Wonder what’s up with that.

  • avatar
    windswords

    PartsUnknown:

    “What jumped out at me was that Toyota and Lexus are statistically identical, as are Honda and Acura. Yet Infiniti ranks very highly, and parent Nissan is wallowing in the cellar with the Mitsubishis and Dodges of the world.”

    While not a stellar ranking for Nissan, Dodge, and Mitsubishi, I wouldn’t call beating 13 to 16 other makes as being “in the cellar”.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    Let’s say some older gent used to buy Buick products for the past 15-20 years. Surely, new models are more reliable then the ones he had before, so he would rank Buick very high because of that. But if he would’ve bought a Lexus first and then would replaced it with a Buick I wonder what would he had to say about reliability?

  • avatar
    geeber

    It’s hardly a great achievement that a marque building vehicles on very old platforms powered by relatively old engines and bought by customers who rarely break 65 mph on the freeway scores good reliablity ratings.

    I’m not surprised that Buicks score well. The bugs should have been worked out of its vehicles ages ago. The owners rarely abuse them.

    If GM can’t get good reliability ratings with Buick, it needs to get into some other business.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    I’m really curious as to why people can’t accept that Jaguar has actually done well? Their cars are very good and far superior to any German marques, in my opinion.

    Incidentally, why is Jaguar and Land Rovers always at polar opposites of reliability surveys, despite sharing engines and factories?

    Also, the reason Nissan is further down than Infiniti is simple. Nissan is slowly being infected by Renault components (as per the Renault-Nissan agreement of parts sharing to cut costs). But Nissan refuse to integrate Infiniti into the equation. That’s why Renault don’t use Infiniti as a luxury marque.

  • avatar
    akear

    When Buick switches over to Opels watch their JD Powers ranking go straight to the bottom where Saturn is now.

    Poor GM…………..

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The W-body has been built all over North America.

    Not since 2004, when the Grand Prix moved from Kansas to Ontario. Point being, though, that the Buick’s reliance of Regal/Century/Allure/Lacrosse sales, it’s not surprising that they’re scoring well. They sell (sold) pretty much only one car in volume, and it’s a reliable car.

    The brand averages are sales-weighted. By 2006 X-Types weren’t selling all that well. And no XFs were included, since none of them are three years old.

    It’s quite possible for 2006 Jaguars to have had relatively few problems in their third year while XFs have a lot of problems in their first year. Both can be true. There’s no contradiction here.

    That begs the question: what the heck is (was?) Jaguar selling in 2006? Because if they weren’t moving X-Types to thusly influence this study, what was moving? S-Types? XJs and XKs?

    I know people with these cars and I’ve read the reliability reports from other sources and I have a real hard time coming up with any combination of sales by which Jaguar could approach Lexus.

    I have no trouble understanding where Buick or Scion are coming from, but Jag totally mystifies me.

  • avatar
    mikey610

    John Horner:

    Thanks for the compliment.

    Avg. age of Buick buyer (even w/ Enclave): Upper 60s. I think Mercury & Lincoln are even older. You don’t find nearly as many problems when you’re only driving to the pharmacy, the bank, and Denny’s for the arly-bird special.

    IIRC, Volkswagen & Scion avg. ages are in the low 40s

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    KixStart wrote:
    Some of this has to be the tyranny of low expecations. I expect that a Buick driver is grateful if the car starts when he turns the key

    Wow. I mean, wow.

    Is that your general opinion about older folks? That they accept everything and never complain? May I please ask what planet you live on?

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    If Lexus and Toyota are near the top why is Scion down at the bottom?

    My theory is that two of the major categories in VDS-NVH and safety-tend to skew the data toward large/luxurious brands,

    If you compare with TD or CR data brands in similar categories tend to rank in a similar order, but luxury brands do better overall in VDS and brands that are reliant on lower-priced/smaller vehicles (Suz, Scion, Kia, Mazda etc.) score lower.

    The frugal but noisy old xB will have a NVH score that is nasty.

    Keep in mind the public is NOT JDPs customer, this survey is to purchased by the automakers to give them detailed info. I have no problem with that, they are a buisness.

    However the info is of little use to the consumer, IMO.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Isn’t JDP more a test/measurement of owner expectations?

    With a failure to firmly, openly and accurately define what a vehicle “problem” is, then really, it all comes down to a new owner’s opinion…based on preconceived expectations.

    What might be perceived as “a problem” by a picky, fussy, perfection-seeking Lexus buyer may be “no big deal” when the same event crops up in a Buick.

    Maybe Grampa, now in his sixth, and last Buick, just flat-out knows that the dash will rattle – it’s to be expected. Whereas Grampa’s son, in a new Lexus, would find the same condition in his car to be intolerable.

    Or am I missing something?

    Not trying to diss Buick’s quality. Just trying land on explanations of how, say, Chrysler tops its former owner Benz.

    I just don’t get it otherwise.

  • avatar

    bottom line…nice job to the Buick Division and it’s dealers.

  • avatar
    raast

    I’d say demographics play a large part in this survey, particulary with regard to Buick – not so much as who is buying them vs what the buyer does with the vehicle and how they care for it.

    Example: how many Buicks have you seen towing a trailer or loaded up to gills with stuff as a student moves all their stuff to res in it?

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    windswords,

    I believe that most of VW’s volume cars for the US are made in plants in the America’s where there are no Audi’s made.

    I do know that Passat quality plummeted when they switched the source for US models from Germany to Mexico. I suspect that the German line was much more automated.

  • avatar
    Russell

    @MrDot : Suzuki
    Suzuki was neither better nor worse with Daewoo rebranding.
    Also, note that Chevy Aveo made the Sub-Compact Car VDS list and SX4 didn’t made the list. I bet it is as reliable or unreliable as “its stalemates.”
    If Suzuki was better than before the Daewoo, they would have sold just as many car before the Daewoo rebranding. Remember those little Suzuki Samurai’s. That’s the reputation of Suzuki and it wishes to hold on to? I equate that to the Pre-Smart. In addition, didn’t you read the article? TTAC reminded that VDS is (almost) useless.

    @ CommanderFish : Mazda
    Mazda might be low because of their RX-8. Apparently, there are problems with RX-8. According to the Consumer Reports, it has the worst “Predicted Reliability” rating among Sports/sport cars category (14 cars total).

    @ KatiePuckrik : Nissan
    What data do you have for you claim on Renault is infecting (negative connotation. Opposite would be “benefiting”) Nissan and that is a bad thing? Nissan never had the Toyota or Honda quality. Maxima was touted as one of the best mid-size cars but other than that, I am not so sure about other cars. Can someone inform me of the reliability ratings of the Nissan’s past passenger cars? Why did Nissan had to form an alliance with the Renault? Why did the Nissan had the financial problems in the first place?

    — : Buick.
    I think Buick has different customers. Buick’s steady good rating maybe based on combination of decent to good quality and their good-natured customer base. People in general tend to be very finicky and whiny. I think that maybe why VW always ranks bottom. VW’s customer base probably whines, complains, and expects the most. People’s ever growing thirst for the complaining and whining and relentless pursuit of victimhood and I-am-first-to-be-offended never cease to amaze me.

    @ segfault : VW
    VW tradionally ranks way below on all quality surveys. One of the VW car makes into one of the Worst list on average of every other year. That is pretty hard to do. Making things one of the worst is just as hard as making things one of the best.
    2000: VW Jetta V6
    2001: VW Cabrio
    2004: VW Touareg, VW New Beetle Turbo,
    2007: VW Passat V6, AWD
    2008: VW Touareg
    VW cars for the people who are bit yuppyish people who values image above many things. VW has a direct smug linkage to the Prius. I think the Land Rover buyers are the upgraded ex-VW buyers. I recognize the mechanical prowess of Land Rover. However, most people will never need such capabilities and most of them probably don’t know how to drive that way.

    @ Landcrusher on VW
    I don’t think the reason for the VW’s subpar quality can’t be blamed on its Mexico plant. Because other carmakers make their cars in Mexico, too. Suggesting that somehow the geographic location degrades the supposedly excellent build quality is not logical. They have the all the same or very similar parts. They have the same engineering. It could be that VW intentionally under-engineer the plant and place the inferior parts. However, this is hard to do because VW then has to develop two assembly/manufacturing systems for the same cars, which can raise the cost.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Automaker value engineering predetermines product quality, reliability and durability. An absence of warranty claims confirms a product downgrade and cheapening is overdue.

    Business Week reported GM increased its key parts durability specification from 80,000-miles to 100,000-miles. A 80,000-mile target life results in a distribution of failures centered at 80,000-miles. Some significant number will fail sooner. Trumpeting a 100,000-mile tune-up interval for cars engineered to fail at 80,000-miles speaks loudly to GM’s business ethic.

    The myriad J.D. Power categories allow most manufacturers to somewhere claim victory.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    I wonder how much higher Audi needs to climb before they stopped being slammed for reliability. It seems some will never let their experience with a ’98 A4 1.8T go.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Irvine

    If Lexus and Toyota are near the top why is Scion down at the bottom?

    Isn’t it the case that Scion is the result of Toyota buying Daihatsu? Daihatsus were never very reliable so I find this result to be as expected.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    hwyhobo,

    No, that is my opinion of Buick owners.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I do know that Passat quality plummeted when they switched the source for US models from Germany to Mexico. I suspect that the German line was much more automated.

    The Passat sucked when it was German built, too. So did the A4 it was based on. So did the Wolfsburg-built Mk4 compacts.

    The “Mexico factor” is really a way for VW fans to make themselves feel better, but it doesn’t bear out in reality. What did help VW quality was moving away from the overly-complex, under-QA’ed designs (the Mk4 Jetta and Golf come to mind) they’d been hocking for a years.

    The problem is that VW has gone on record as saying that the Mk5 Golf/Jetta and as is Mk6 Passat, and that they plan to cost-cut the new models back to profitability. Cost-cutting was a problem for Toyota, and they have a decent QA process. Volkswagen is going to suffer far worse.

  • avatar
    MichaelJ

    Gotta love it. When GM does well in JDP’s IQS (Initial Quality Survey) everyone jumps up and down screaming that it’s only a 3-month survey, these things all fall apart 15 minutes after the owners fill out the survey, show me a longer term survey, cause that’s where GM SUCKS!

    So here comes the VDS…3 years…Buick is a co-leader…

    Oh.

    Well, Buick customers are too old to remember they had problems, the cars are too mature and old tech to matter, and…and…those old folks don’t beat their cars up…and…JDPower’s rankings are flawed

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I do know that Passat quality plummeted when they switched the source for US models from Germany to Mexico.

    Passats were never built in Mexico.

  • avatar
    Boston

    I am curious where the average rating would have placed 5 years ago. How much has quality progressed?

  • avatar
    noreserve

    Boston :
    March 19th, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Jaguar – wtf? There is a big wave of complaints on the internet about the XF.

    It’s all about the hideous headlight design – just kidding.

    As for VW/Audi, one can only hope they’ve found out how to make those beautifully-engineered German components reliable. My friend’s 06 Passat had the check engine light come on so many times, he was ready to put a piece of black tape over it. He went to the dealer several weeks ago and the final straw right before lease turn-in was some kind of filter unit failure that was going to be $800 (out of warranty due to mileage). He chose to dump it and work with them on an A4 lease. I hope he has better luck with that one. The A6 and A8 have improved to average from Consumer Reports.

    I don’t pay too much attention to JD Power for reliability. CR is much more relevant. I like their “Used cars to avoid” section of their Buyer’s Guide. If you pick one from that list, you get what you deserve.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Russell,
    Maybe you should read what I said again.

    Nothing I said should be interpreted as a swipe against Mexico (at least by someone without an agenda). I recall the change in quality that happened around 1999 or 2000 model being blamed on shifting assembly to Mexico. I had been looking at buying one before that, but went for a 3 series instead.
    Also, I don’t think your supposition about assembly lines will run true at all. Labor cost would likely change many decisions in a design. Mexico has some of the best machinists in the entire world, but a robot is better for many tasks.

    PCH,
    Are you sure? I remember the whole thing pretty well. I may have been misinformed, but I literally considered checking VIN’s on the lot because they were supposedly coming from both sources. My wife vetoed VW though. I am also sure they used to have a Mexican version of the Passat. Certainly those weren’t from Germany?

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I have to say, markets are not always efficient.

    There are a ton of 3 year old Jaguar XJs out there with ~40K miles collecting dust on used car lots with $22K stickers on them. Seems like an incredible bargain to me.

  • avatar
    noreserve

    Pch101 :
    March 19th, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    I do know that Passat quality plummeted when they switched the source for US models from Germany to Mexico.

    Passats were never built in Mexico.

    Germany baby. All Germany now. No one to blame when it’s built in the homeland.

    It looks like 07 VW/Audis are turning a corner. Reliability has improved from CR for most by then. TrueDelta probably has more info to confirm about the 08s. Slight correction to an above post – the 07 A6 is actually better than average from CR.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I am also sure they used to have a Mexican version of the Passat.

    Passats were never built in Mexico. They were built in some other countries such as Brazil and China, but to my knowledge, those sold in the US have always been European-sourced.

    You may be thinking of the US-market Golfs/ Rabbits, which have been built in a variety of places.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    It looks like 07 VW/Audis are turning a corner.

    Again, come back and say that after we’ve seen the results of the cost-cutting exercises attempted on the NMS and Mk6 Golf/Jetta.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    MichaelJ -on GM “reliability”.

    I do not doubt that the Buicks are by and large reliable, but does that translate to good results for GM in general?
    Look farther down the list.

    Caddy ranks pretty well, but there are no other GM brands above the industry average.

    Below average: 170
    GMC 174
    Chevrolet 185
    Saturn 211
    Pontiac 220
    Hummer 221
    SAAB 226

    Many miss this with GMs scores-they typically (regardless of the survey method) have a few bright spots. And their defenders say “See, they are going great!”
    But whether you lookat VDS, CR or TD you find most of their product is below average.
    Some are among the worst.

    You have to look at the whole score to get the picture on GM-the most schizophrenic of automakers.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    geeber

    The Ford Fusion is built in Mexico, and it is probably the most reliable vehicle Ford makes (and that’s not damning it with faint praise – other surveys I’ve seen place it right up there with the Accord and Camry in reliability).

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Automobiles have been built in Mexico for decades.
    The same was said about the 95 and up Generation Cavalier when it was being built there, Lordstown Ohio and Lansing Michigan : That they were inferior and watch for those with a “3” in their VIN #. Don’t know for certain if that was true [well it was all over the Internet at the time], or simple cultural snobbery. Studebaker’s cars were claimed to be better built when they came from their Canadian factory. Who knows if it was actually true. Same with Chrysler’s Canadian problem.

    The PT Cruiser has been Chrysler’s most trouble free car for many years, built in Mexico. Howzat Caliber doing?

    BTW: Buick has been at the top or in the top 10 of these JD Power awards since the 80s. Even Time or Newsweek did a major report on how “Buick City” was producing the most reliable cars GM made at the time, [the 88 LeSabre IIRC].

    I filled out several JD Power surveys for my 05 ION. I think the Relay was available during that period and between the ignition switch and sway bar bushing problems I had [and common to the ION] and the miserable quality of the Relay, it’s not the Opel product that will drag down Saturn’s performance in another couple of years. It can only get better. And then hit the skids again when they start selling Saturn badged Protons.

  • avatar
    meefer

    As for Scion – I believe the overly ambitious tC and the creaky, leaky sunroof was the culprit. I have a coworker who despises her tC.

    That being said, it is MUCH more informative if broken down by model. Because if I buy a Jaguar, I’m not buying all the cars in the range, just the one car.

    I’m not going to think twice about my SLK purchase (hypothetical) just because Mercedes has a poor scoring for marque reliability.

  • avatar
    solo84

    Does Isuzu even have THAT many vehicles to complain about? I think they’ve been pared down to one truck model, and even that is a GM clone…

  • avatar
    vanderaj

    As a multiple VW owner (I’ve owned six so far), with one lemon, let me tell you why VW rates so poorly in VDS: it’s the VW warranty policy.

    For *EACH* problem you have, you have these visits:

    * The first one to make sure the dealer repros the issue, and orders the part
    * The second visit to fit the ordered part
    * The third visit to fix the issue again when the part they got in Visit 2 didn’t resolve the problem. A new part is ordered
    * The fourth visit sometimes fixes the issue

    but in my worst example, it took 12 (!) visits to fix one faulty blow off valve. I told them outright on visit #1 that the part number of the original OEM rubber and plastic blow off value was design faulty, and they should order another part. Guess what part I ended up with in visit 12? The Forge steel bodied BOV that eventually became standard. Every time I had to drop the car off, made me late for work. This car nearly cost me my job.

    The straw that broke the camel’s back though was the coil packs. Everywhere else in the world, VW replaced all four known faulty coil packs at once. In Australia, VW replaced just the one that was actually dead. And to do that required a tow as a 1.8t with three cylinders in limp home mode does not drive. I am not going to own a car that requires four tows and multiple days in the shop due to a service policy by the parent company.

    The 2001 NB Turbo (MY2002 for you folks in the USA) I had 21 dealer visits and just shy of three months in the shop in the 24 months I had it.

    I off loaded that POS for a Citroen C3, which was way more reliable.

    The NB was well built in Mexico – every single dealer visit was for *German* built and sourced parts:

    * Blow off valve – Bosch – 12 visits
    * Coil packs (x3) – Bosch – 3 visits and one tow (resulted in me getting rid of this lemon)
    * Window regulators – ? but affected ALL VWs of that era

    There’s nothing wrong with the Mexican plant. They made a good quality car. It’s the crappy parts the German management made them put in the car, followed by the awful “zero stock” policy service centers had to put up with. They had to order in EVERYTHING, necessitating two visits for every single out of cycle issue. I bet they didn’t even have a set of spark plugs on premises unless they had a booking.

    If service departments had stock of the say at least 20% of the most commonly failing parts, I bet VW’s ranking in the VDS would dramatically improve.

    Andrew

  • avatar
    Mark45

    Old people complain about their car problems. My mother in law drives me crazy about any little thing on her 1997 Ford Escort. I put zero stock in this study whether it is a Buick at the top or a Lexus or Toyota. This is a survey of the cars owners and most people fib about their cars,whether it is gas mileage, performance or dependability.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Wish you guys would pick over CR as much as JD Power. I don’t put much stock in either…

  • avatar

    About Mazda, I own a 2006 Mazda3 hatch since new, 38k miles so far, I love that car but here are some problems I had, defective clock, leaking engine mount, defective lower control arms, one leaking front strut(discovered and replaced today while the car was serviced), rear brake pads gone at 30k, tires (205/50-17), very expensive, gone at 28k.
    My luck is that back in 2006, warranty was 50k or 4 years, I really did not expect to have any problems so soon.
    I do have to praise Mazda for fixing everything quick and with zero hassle, I live in NYC and the car works really hard, short trips in extreme cold or hot temperatures, city driving, the worst roads in America in terms of bumps and potholes.
    What should I do? buy a Buick????

  • avatar
    LXbuilder

    There’s nothing wrong with the Mexican plant. They made a good quality car. It’s the crappy parts the German management made them put in the car,

    Boy your not kidding. My buddy had a 99 TDI Jetta, biggest POS I’ve ever known. Every failure was a component failure, glow plugs, glow plug harness,oil feed line to tubo, oil return line from turbo, cooling fans, … etc…

    When he bought a new truck it was either keep the VW or a 6yr older Mercury (as second car), he kept the merc.

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    “Highest Ranked Large Car – Ford Crown Victoria followed by the Mercury Grand Marquis”

    “Second Highest Ranked Large Premium Car – Lincoln Town Car”

    “Highest Ranked Compact pickup – Ford Ranger”

    Ingenious, the Vic is fleet only and the MGM and TC are nearly fleet only. Ranger isn’t far behind.

    That’s right Ford, you kill those award winners, kill’em with fire!

  • avatar
    John Horner

    ” … tires (205/50-17), very expensive, … ”

    This is getting to be a real gotcha with new vehicles. Garden variety sedans are being equipped with tires sizes you would have only found on a high-end performance car a decade ago. The tire makers have priced replacements sky high. New tires for something as pedestrian as a mid range Accord, Fusion, Malibu or such will easily set you back $800-$1000 for a set of four, and you will probably be back for new ones every 30-40k miles even with proper care.

  • avatar
    LXbuilder

    “Automobiles have been built in Mexico for decades.
    The same was said about the 95 and up Generation Cavalier when it was being built there, Lordstown Ohio and Lansing Michigan : That they were inferior and watch for those with a “3″ in their VIN #. Don’t know for certain if that was true [well it was all over the Internet at the time], or simple cultural snobbery. Studebaker’s cars were claimed to be better built when they came from their Canadian factory. Who knows if it was actually true. Same with Chrysler’s Canadian problem.

    The PT Cruiser has been Chrysler’s most trouble free car for many years, built in Mexico. Howzat Caliber doing?”

    My wife drives PT convert built in Mexico and with 65k kms in 2.5yrs she is very happy with it. Theres been no assembly related trouble at all. It did have the radio replaced under warranty when it “ate” a CD, but I wouldn’t blame that on the assembly plant.

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    armadamaster wrote:
    That’s right Ford, you kill those award winners

    I agree. The stupidest thing I have seen any car manufacturer do. All paid, proven technology, fiercely loyal buyers, totally bizarre. All they needed to do is drop a more modern, more fuel-efficient plant in them.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    You guys are missing the question raised by my Mexico comment. The question is: has there ever been a car made in a less automated plant that was superior to the same model assembled with elsewhere with more automation?
    Rolls are made by hand, but they have never been that trouble free. Light aircraft are mostly hand made, and delivery issues are common, like cars had 40 to 50 years ago.

  • avatar
    07Frontier

    I suspect most Buick buyers are 70+, staunchly patriotic, WWII vets therefore would never consider a Japanese or German car, don’t drive as much as us working stiffs, and possibly hard of hearing. Add these together and you have a group that most likely will either ignore little nit-picky things in the Buick (consider the cars of the ’30’s and ’40’s they grew up driving) and/or they can’t hear squeaks and rattles.

    No offense meant to any who are in that group. I am very proud of my father and my father-in-law; both bravely fought in WWII.

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