By on February 26, 2015

Lexus RCF cliff, side

For the fourth consecutive year, Lexus is tops among the brands ranked in JD Power’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study.

The research group says owners of the premium brand’s offerings reported 89 problems per 100 vehicles. However, its parent company was bumped down to third place on the podium this year by Buick, the latter making a huge leap from fifth place in 2014 to take silver with 110 problems per 100 vehicles reported. Toyota had one more problem compared to Buick.

Among the rest, Cadillac took home fourth, while Honda and Porsche tied for fifth. Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Scion and Chevrolet round out the top 10 for 2015, while Land Rover and Fiat landed at the bottom of the list with 258 and 273 problems per 100 vehicles, respectively.

As for the problems themselves, most took issue with their vehicle’s Bluetooth and voice-recognition systems, followed by problems with the vehicle’s engine or transmission, the latter mostly focused on “automatic transmission hesitation and rough shifting.”

This year’s study surveyed over 34,000 original owners of 2012 models after three years of ownership, with the survey taking place between November and December of 2014.

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54 Comments on “Lexus Takes Gold In 2015 JD Power Dependability Study...”


  • avatar

    Toyota and Lexus hold the econobox/ generic luxury reliability crown.

    YAY

    But their cars are uglier than ever and I don’t care for the Predator2 grill or the NIKE checkmark DRL.

    I’d take my money to Hyundai long before Lexus.

    • 0 avatar
      John R

      That’s too bad. I guess Toyota will be crying all the way to the bank.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      Lexus’s are reliable, Yes. But, the new design theme is so boy-racer look at me. Very trendy designs. Kinda like the Chess King look of the 1980’s or Pontiac look at me, I have special designed plastic bumpers to make me go fast look. Yes, I would also take a new Genesis over most Lexus as they look today. Having said this. My wife and I just saw an Orange Molten Pearl RC and she thought it looked better then Maserati Granturismo sitting next to it.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      One of the things you’re supposed to get when you pay extra for a car is “no compromises”.

      Buying an average reliability vehicle, such an a BMW, would be a compromise compared to my Toyotas, I’ve been poor enough recently enough that reliability is more luxurious than hard plastics, to me personally.

      Lexus has fewer compromises, in thin respect – but I just don’t like the spindle grill very much. Maybe I’ll consider one when they change their design language again.

      It’s also likely that my Toyotas will last until I can buy a plugin that does everything I want. :-)

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        Luke, I know you were burned by an early 2000s Jetta (and post about it here often) but I point out that VW as a brand has dug itself out of the cellar not only in this survey, but also in Consumer Reports and now True Delta’s new ranking list. While not yet above the industry average (which has also improved), there has been slow and steady growth. I would predict MQB cars to continue the trend as the get phased in.

        Now, queue the inevitable VW reliabiilty horror stories in 5..4..3..2..1…

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          I sure hope VW has improved their reliability. The reason my Jetta pissed me off so much is that I *want* to be a VW fanboy. I liked the thing a lot, when it ran.

          But, I haven’t seen any corporate-speak from VW suggesting that reliability is a priority. I haven’t seen any ratings showing that they’ve achieved anything other than mediocre ratings after the fact.

          I’d love to see that change, though. The Jetta isn’t the only POS car I’ve owned (at least 3 of the cars I’ve owned aver the years have earned that distinction), but it’s the only one which managed a) cost good-car money to acquire b) cost thousands to repair during a single year of ownership c) do both of these things while being the youngest car I’ve ever owned (6 years old when I bought it). I’d love to soon Volkswagen succeed – but I haven’t seen anything to indicate that they recognize the problem. And recognizing the problem is the first step on the way to recovery and eventual success.

          Back to my original point, I don’t see VW (or Audi/Seat/Skoda) as a “no compromises” kind of vehicle. It could be, if reliability and maintainability were engineering priorities, but I haven’t seen evidence of that yet.

          • 0 avatar
            LeeK

            Yes, but has *any* German manufacturer ever made a claim that reliability is going to be their number one focus item? Despite some marketing words, I don’t think the answer is yes. It’s the German way: the engineers quietly work in the background and then provide the results. There is no question that poor design and inferior vendor parts led to a disastrous reliability period for Volkswagen with the Mk IV Golf, Jetta, New Beetle and B6 Passast in the early 2000s. My point in the objective data shows slow but steady improvement.

            I don’t believe that VW or BMW or MB are ever going to be in the top five of long-term brand reliability studies. But cars in general are improving, and the German brands are getting very close to the industry average, including VW. So if you want to be a fanboy but are scared of a repeat of the 2001 Jetta that disappointed you so, the chances of that are diminished. It’s never going be a Honda, Mazda, or Toyota, but then again it’s probably not going to be Yugo-like.

  • avatar

    Nice design car.It’s really cool design.I am very satisfy when I show this car.I am a car dealers in broward county,Florida,so it’s information & design car essential in this century.

  • avatar
    John R

    VW Eos ia a sporty car?

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    Where are all the usual suspects claiming JD Power results are crap?

    Ohhh, wait we are talking Lexus, they must be right….Look at that, it goes Lexus, Buick, Toyota and Cadillac for top 4. Well, they got Lexus and Toyota right anyway, they are clearly full of crap when it comes to Buick and Cadillac…

    This will be a fun one to follow today!

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      JD Powers results are crap. GIGO.

      Consider the fact that JD Powers surveys owners of 33,000 vehicles, versus the 1,100,000 vehicles that Consumer Reports 1,100,000 that tracks/surveys, and that:

      “The J.D. Power dependability study is different from the Consumer Reports predicted-reliability study. The J.D. Power study looks at one model year over a three-year period, while the Consumer Reports survey looks at three model years — in the case of a 2013 model, for example, Consumer Reports looks at the 2012, 2011 and 2010 model years.”

      So, CR has a survey base that is 30x larger than JD Powers, and CR issues reliability conclusions based on at least 3 separate model years of any vehicle versus the sole model year that JD Powers does, and there’s little wonder why/how their conclusions can diverge so dramatically.

      http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/why-consumer-reports-and-j-d-power-are-so-different/?_r=0

      • 0 avatar
        PonchoIndian

        I knew I could count on you like the sunrise!

        Thanks for my first daily dose of mindless dribble.

        Have a good one buddy, don’t forget your meds today.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        JD Power has a minimum sample size of 250 vehicles.

        Consumer Reports has a minimum sample size of 100 vehicles.

        The error rate for CR should be much higher because the sample size is smaller. None of these surveys have optimal sample sizes, but JD Power has the advantage in that regard.

        You can’t directly compare the 30k+ vehicles in the JD Power survey and the 1+ million in CR because CR casts a much wider net. The sample size minimums are what matter for accuracy.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I can’t find the data, but I’d be surprised (shocked, actually) if there were more than a handful of vehicles (i.e. Low volume, seldom purchase) that CR judged based on a sample size of less than several thousand.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You’re probably way off. If the numbers were that good, CR would provide them.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Just so we’re clear, you are referring to sample size as the minimum number of vehicles that are required to be “tracked/surveyed” in order to allow for either publication to feel it can produce a statistically reliable “reliability” projection, correct?

            If so, do you not agree that it’s highly unlikely that CR, given an overall sample base of 1,100,000 vehicles, is NOT likely to have hundreds of responses for any specific vehicle that sold more than 10,000 copies or more per year, with even that being a fairly low volume model compared to something like a Camry or F-150?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            A JD Power survey is covering one model year. The CR survey is covering ten.

            The JD Power survey targets those who bought the car, while CR opens its survey to all of its subscribers. Accordingly, you can expect that a higher proportion of those 1.1 million survey responses end up getting tossed out for various reasons ( e.g. they didn’t receive enough responses or receive them for the right vehicles.)

            In any case, accuracy comes from having adequate sample sizes for each individual make/model/model year. For a survey like this, receiving 500 responses for one car does not improve the margin of error for the 100 responses received for another car. 250 is still on the low side of what would be desirable, but it’s better than 100.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Well, of course this survey is crap, DW…it disagrees with you.

        Troll on, my man…LOL

    • 0 avatar

      I meant to observe that Acura has better reliability than Lexus, and JD seems to be measuring something other than dependability in their “dependability” survey. However, when the challenge is issued in that form, I don’t see a need to expaund any further.

  • avatar
    Joss

    No warranty against bad luck. It could still get stolen or wrecked in an accident that’s not the owners fault.

    Gotta luv those accidents where the insurance co insists on spending thousands on repairs. You get it back and it’s wonky and not the same J D Power excellanta you planned on…

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Hard to believe that the FJ Cruiser and Rav4 are in the same category. I guess the categories are created from the automakers’ point of view rather than the buyers’.

  • avatar

    LOL. I guess it is what it is . Fix It Again Tony .

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The remarkable thing about just how bad Fiat’s cars are, is that they’re so simple. Everyone knows Land Rovers are built with alloys involving papier mache and wired by people fired from Volkswagen for incompetence, but Fiats manage to have more problems with a fraction of the moving parts and features. That’s almost an achievement in itself.

  • avatar
    Fred

    6 of the top 10 problems are related to bluetooth and voice commands. I wonder how this list would look without these sort of problems listed? While frustrating they aren’t going to leave you stranded.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Yes, they really are things I would want seperated.

      Interface issues are worth tracking, but are really different than other stuff that at is almost always the fault of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Interface issues don’t strand you, but they’re certainly annoying at a bare minimum, and at worse substantially impact the functionality of the product.

        I think they should be included, particularly since they’re not optional in many cars these days.

        This is the only way the auto manufacturers will improve the systems.

  • avatar
    pdl2dmtl

    Someone driving a Toyota, Honda and even Buick for that matter will likely drive a whole lot more miles and have ample time to discover more issues with their cars in the first year of ownership. Whereas a Porsche owner most likely will drive much less.
    Honestly, I am not sure how much water these findings by JDP can hold.
    Remember a few years back when Porsche was at the top and they had all kinds of quality issues? Quality is quality, end of story. CR is more credible.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Agree that CR is more credible. That said, I’m inclined to give JDP its due for crowning Lexus, based on the people I know who drive Lexus, albeit old Lexus products that they are not yet willing to retire or give up.

      One guy I know still uses an old LS400 (remember those) as his daily driver. He’s got other cars as well, but the LS400 is his daily driver.

      I find it believable that Lexus products are durable, reliable and dependable. If I could afford them, I would probably buy a Lexus product.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    I’m always surprised by Buick’s placement in these surveys. They don’t have many, if any, powertrain components that are exclusive to the brand, and several models are based on Opels, which are not widely regarded as paragons of reliability anywhere. I suppose that there may be a significant portion of their customer base that’s older and therefore drives fewer miles, but otherwise, what explains the 13-problem/100-car gap between Buick and Chevrolet?

  • avatar
    GS 455

    As usual the $40,000 question is what happens to reliability after 3 years. When you look at CR results, a number GM vehicles are rated above average in the first 3 years then drop to below average in the 4th and subsequent years. With regards to the complaints of transmission hesitation this may not be a defect but rather a design feature to imrove fuel economy numbers.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I don’t like how this counts all aspects together for “dependability.”

    If my Bluetooth is wonky and only works 3 of 5 times – it’s annoying, but does not make the car less dependable. So an Infiniti with complicated electronics inside purchased by an average idiot is going to have more “problems” when new than a Porsche Cayman purchased by an enthusiast, who read the manual in German before flying over to pick up his new car.

    It’s not equivalent.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      If the electronics are flawed, then they shouldn’t sell them to the customer.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      It’s one thing when it doesn’t work, but it’s another when the customer can’t make it work because they can’t figure it out. Do you really want to entrench players because whenever a new head unit comes out it lowers reliability numbers even though it works?

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        I used to think that way… But now that I work for a big Internet company, user behavior is that it is. It makes sense to engineer the system around user behavior, rather than the other way around.

        This in a big shift in thinking from when I was a kid in the 1980s, when you had to adapt no the tools you used. Now, the tools are engineered to adapt to you.

        Even if this shouldn’t be true for axes, shovels, and manual transmissions, it emphatically is the right way to build consumer-oriented information technology. Automotive infotainment systems are consumer facing information technology device.

        Normal people should be able to use an interface to do everyday tasks without training and, if not, the design is defective. By this standard, all of those VCRs which flashed 12:00 12:00 12:00 during the 1980s and 1990s had defective user interfaces.

        P.S. Of course, my idea of fun involves dropping to the command line and making the system do what *I* want – but I’m a tinkerer and enthusiast who will put in the time to learn advanced interfaces in exchange for advanced control over the device. There’s every reason both kinds of users can be accommodated.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      If it annoyed the owner enough to make a trip to the dealership to get it “fixed”, it is a real problem, it should count, and it should be tracked.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    Maybe someone with insight into the JD Powers logic and methodology can help me out. I’m stunned by Volvo’s dismal performance.

    Volvo does extraordinarily well in the JD Powers Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study (VOSS). The JD Powers US Initial Quality Study (IQS) – not so good. The dependability study above – sad stuff.

    Why would there be such a discrepancy?

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      I can’t figure out the methodology except to say it’s a profit scheme rather than a knowledge scheme. I can tell you the computer on the Volvo has terrible interface and even the dealers can’t figure out how to change some settings.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The Vehicle Dependability Survey measures reliability for 3-year old cars.

      Reliability comprises only half of the Initial Quality Survey score.

      Reliability comprises only about one-quarter of the German VOSS.

      And the surveys are relative. Volvo reliability is probably pretty decent compared to other cars sold in Europe. In the US, not so much.

      • 0 avatar
        Sjalabais

        Yes, they are #3 in Germany, behind Toyota and Mazda.

        http://www.autobild.de/artikel/exklusiv-auto-bild-qualitaetsreport-2014-5493657.html

        It is the discrepancy I can’t wrap my head around. Yes, Americans drive more, yet sorting reliability tables by mileage is the one thing you can do to improve Volvo’s standing in European tables. So…where do the issues originate?

  • avatar
    Kevin Jaeger

    Congrats to Lexus for coming out on top again. They may not be the first to introduce new technology in their cars but they are obviously doing something right to maintain their reputation for dependability.

    And this is useful for people to grasp the order of magnitude in the gap between brands.

    That dependable Acura is doing well with an average of 1.24 problems per owner, while those poor Audi owners are enduring the horrendous experience of suffering through an average of 0.14 more than that content Acura owner.

    It would be nice if those constantly harping on this real but small difference had some sense of perspective.

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