By on April 13, 2016

2012 Toyota Tundra – Image Source: Toyota Canada

Late last month, I determined the extent to which Canadians buy the most reliable vehicles according to automaker-supplied sales figures and J.D. Power’s 2016 Vehicle Dependability Study. In large measure, the vehicles that win their respective categories in J.D. Power’s Study are distinctly unpopular vehicles in Canada.

In the United States, the same group of vehicles are notably more common. But does J.D. Power’s VDS, a study which takes into account problems encountered by original owners of MY2013 vehicles over the course of their third year, have a measurable impact on U.S. buying habits?

For every piece of evidence that responds in the affirmative — the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang take the top two spots among “midsize sporty cars” and absolutely control the U.S. sporty car market — there’s a corresponding batch of evidence to the contrary. The most popular vehicle in America, Ford’s F-150, ranks sixth in its J.D. Power category, for example.

Highlighted here are the five occasions in which J.D. Power’s findings most accurately correlate with America’s collective car-buying tendencies and five other occasions in which J.D. Power’s dependability ratings are not reflected whatsoever by the desirability quotient established by American consumers.

THE GOOD

Toyota Sienna – Minivan
Although two separate FCA van nameplates combine to produce more total minivan sales in America, 2015’s best-selling minivan and the best-selling minivan through the first three months of 2016 was and is the Toyota Sienna.

Sienna sales shot to an eight-year high while overall U.S. sales of minivans plunged 8 percent in calendar year 2015. Bizarrely, the two FCA van twins – Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan – which are both built at the same factory in Windsor, Ontario, receive markedly different results in the Vehicle Dependability Study: “Better Than Most” for the Chrysler and a sub-average “The Rest” for the Dodge.

2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS, Image: GM

Chevrolet Camaro – Midsize Sporty Car
This study of model year 2013 vehicles placed the Camaro first in its class, ahead of the second-ranked Ford Mustang and third-ranked Dodge Challenger. That was the sales order of these cars for five consecutive years from 2010 and 2014, as well. Not until 2015, when the Mustang was all-new and the all-new Camaro was waiting in the wings, did the Camaro fall into second place in sales. In 2016’s first-quarter, the Mustang earned 47 percent of the trio’s U.S. volume.

Buick Encore – Small SUV
Among subcompact crossovers, only the more rugged Jeep Renegade and slightly larger Subaru Crosstrek are selling more often in America this year than the Buick Encore. Awaiting a refresh for model year 2017, Encore volume is up 23 percent in 2016’s first-quarter. Combined, the Encore and its Chevrolet Trax sibling outsell the top-ranked Renegade by nearly three to two.

GMC Yukon – Large SUV
The Yukon is not America’s best-selling full-size, body-on-frame, truck-based SUV. But its twin, which receives nearly identical J.D. Power VDS results, is the top dog. Indeed, the third-ranked vehicle in J.D. Power’s results is simply an extended version of the Tahoe, the Chevrolet Suburban. Among volume brands competing in this category, GM owns nearly three-quarters of the market in 2016’s first-quarter.

Lexus ES – Compact Premium Car
For starters, the ES is decidedly not compact. But because of its entry-level luxury pricing, the ES is thrust into a group with the BMW 1-Series, Acura ILX, and Lexus CT, along with conventional entry-luxury sports sedans such as the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4. The ES isn’t America’s premium car sales leader — the C-Class and 3-Series are, and they rank ninth and 13th in J.D. Power’s VDS. However, the ES is a major sales player for Lexus. It’s the brand’s second-best-selling model and ranks third among premium brand cars in first-quarter sales.

THE BAD

Nissan Murano – Midsize SUV
The Murano, America’s 25th-best-selling utility vehicle overall in 2016’s first-quarter, is on track for its best year ever, selling twice as often in 2016 as in 2013, the subject year for the VDS. But a broader look at the results for “midsize SUVs” reveals two discontinued vehicles (Toyota Venza and Honda Crosstour) in the top five, while the top-selling three-row vehicle in America — the Ford Explorer — ranks 19th in J.D. Power’s results. Even the Toyota Highlander, second in segment sales so far this year, slots in at seventh in J.D. Power’s results.

Buick Verano – Compact Car
Granted, the Verano’s victory is balanced by second and fourth-place finishes from the two best-selling compact cars in America, the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. But the semi-premium $22,385 Verano’s position atop the VDS compact car leaderboard stands in stark contrast to the Verano’s appeal in the marketplace. Though more popular than the Mitsubishi Lancer, Acura ILX, and Scion iM, Buick sells just one Verano for every three Kia Fortes; one per 11 Civics. Not intended to be GM’s high-volume compact, the Verano is nevertheless an increasingly uncommon car. Verano sales declined in the last two years, falling 30 percent between 2013 and 2015, before 2016’s 9-percent Q1 decline.

2013 Mini Coupe burnt orange, Image: Mini

Mini Coupe/Roadster – Compact Sporty Car
Dependable? How about dependably unpopular? BMW doesn’t even bother to build these two-seat Mini variants anymore, having only sold 15,508 Coupes and Roadsters between 2011 and the end of the last quarter. Those are the kinds of sales figures achieved by the category’s next-highest finisher, the Volkswagen Golf GTI, over the span of about eight months.

Toyota Tundra – Large Light-Duty Pickup
It’s not surprising to see a Toyota ranked first in its class in a vehicle dependability study. But in the real world, a more dependable full-size Toyota truck returns little benefit in a segment where ownership loyalty trumps all. In 2016’s first three months, only 5 percent of America’s full-size truck buyers chose a Tundra. Meanwhile, the most popular truck line in America, the Ford F-Series, saw its F-150 capture sixth place in J.D. Power’s results, behind even the now defunct Chevrolet Avalanche.

Chevrolet Malibu – Midsize Car
The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, three years on, earned the midsize car crown in J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study. In 2016, the new ninth-generation Chevrolet Malibu reported a 37-percent first-quarter sales increase in a declining segment. But the Malibu at the top of 2016’s VDS was, by the standards of the seventh-generation Malibu, a rather rejected car. Chevrolet averaged 205,000 annual Malibu sales between 2010 and 2012; only 195,000 annual Malibu sales the following three years. That’s not a small difference. Remember, the new vehicle market was 28-percent stronger during the latter three-year period.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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103 Comments on “Are J.D. Power’s Most Dependable Vehicles America’s Most Popular Vehicles? No. Not Really. Sometimes....”


  • avatar

    I ride FIRE.

    If I was buying “reliability” I’d have a Camry.

    Life’s too short to buy boring cars.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      Way to be man.

      I don’t seem to have quite your cashflow but even when I buy boring (base SportWagen stick should qualify) there is a 100% guarantee that it turns into an interesting car sooner than later.

      To be honest I’m really fascinated by your taste in cars. I’ve actually wondered what each of us would say at the end of it all if we switched fleets for a week. The polar opposite experiment.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I don’t “ride fire”, but I get it.

      Many people just buy their cars for their features and price. It could be fuel economy, performance, manliness, or the lowest payment in the 4-square.

      Another reason people don’t shop for reliability: Just like dating that hot girl with the reputation of being high maintenance, you think it won’t happen to you. And then it does, and we blog about it.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        With very rare exceptions, all modern cars are more than reliable enough. “Unreliable” in 2016 means your phone doesn’t pair every time, not that you will be stranded on the side of the road.

        Some cars cost more to maintain over time than others. I am under no illusions that my BMWs will have Camry-like TCO. But on the other hand, I don’t have to drive a Camry. I’m rocking a 2016 Camry SE as a rental this week, and if Jack thinks this thing is in any way sporting, his brain is overheating under all that hair. It’s competent, but as soulless as my dishwasher. And ugly inside and out – admittedly a subjective matter of taste.

    • 0 avatar
      e30gator

      I guess that would explain why FCA and VW are still in business.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    I took a Toyota Tundra like the one pictured for a test drive last week. The reactions from bystanders was amazing.

    Crowds of people, standing still, their mouths agape and pointing as if I were a young Robert Redford riding a shiny Brontosaurus through the streets of a newly liberated Paris. Everyone was amazed by the spectacle of a Toyota truck driving down the street. By the time we got back to the dealership, the truck was festooned with hundreds of lacy bras and moist panties, thrown by adoring young women.

  • avatar

    On a side note: I’m coming to Denver Colorado to do a prototype vehicle survey/study on April 30th.

    Any Coloradoans here?

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    The Tundra, even the first generation, do hold on to their value much like the 4Runner and Tacoma.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      My first experience with the Tundra was the 2011 RWD DC LB 5.7 SR5 I bought, and it truly was a great, problem-free experience. So much so, that I bought a 2016 Tundra 5.7 CrewMax 4×4 SR5 TRD.

      Prior to that 2011 Tundra I owned a 1988 Silverado 350 ExtCab LB and a 2006 F150 SuperCab, at the same time, as well as a used 1996 RAM Cummins.

      After my great Tundra experience, I cannot see myself ever going back to Ford, GM or RAM ever again.

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    It makes perfect sense to me. The Tundra OUGHT to be perfectly reliable. They’ve had since its last refresh in 1989 to get the thing right. If I was buying a new 150, I’d be aware there’s a lot of new tech, and some not-new but at least available, and there’s a small chance something may not initially be up to par. For example, It’s hard for there to be something wrong with the rear locking diff on your Tundra, since it’s Off-Road package doesn’t have available a rear locking-diff option.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      In many ways, it’s just like Toyota’s cars. Ford offers a newer 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine as the top choice on the Fusion (and soon a 2.7-liter twin turbo EcoBoost V6); Toyota has an ancient port-injection 3.5-liter V6 for the top engine on the Camry. They both have their merits, but the Toyota engine is definitely the better option if you’re looking for proven long-term durability.

      I’m not sold on the EcoBoost in the F-150, though…especially because real-world mileage isn’t much better, if at all. If I were buying one, I think I’d just go with the 5.0-liter V8…which also costs less.

      • 0 avatar
        SSJeep

        Agreed. Ecoboost is cool, but in the F150 it doesnt deliver on its efficiency promises.

        Id probably end up with a GM 5.3 that has cylinder deactivation. Those seem to get a true 20-22mpg on the highway, and have a V8!

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I averaged 19 in the big 2016 Escalade ESV with the 6.2-liter V8 (with cylinder deactivation) during mixed driving. I suspect that engine would have easily cracked 20 MPG on a long highway stretch.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          Just remember GM sizes gas tanks by bed length, vs Ford’s wheelbase or thereabouts, so unless you’re looking for a long bed (or reg/short), whatever mileage you gain, gets more than wiped out by the 10 gallon smaller tank.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @an innocent man – Ford, GM, and FCA truck durability tends to be tied to where they are in their production cycle.
      The 2010 F150 I have was almost tied with the Tundra back then. The body was a few years old, the transmission was also a few years old but used for a long time in other Fords. The 5.4 had been around forever. In 2011 with new engines their durability ratings tanked.
      At GM the GMT900’s sat at the top of the heap for a few years. With the introduction of the GMT K2XX trucks even CR dropped them from their recommended list.
      FCA has never had a top rated truck. The closest they got was last year with a 3rd place JD Power rating for 2012 trucks. They have the oldest truck now and should climb the rankings. They have added air ride, a new transmission, and new engines so that may offset any benefits from an old platform.
      Toyota on the other hand tends to be immune to that “disease”. New releases tend to do well.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I get the sarcasm, but in case anyone is taking that literally, the current Tundra is an updated/refreshed version of basically the same truck they released in 2007. The engine is the same lusty 32V 5.7L V8, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Compare this to Chevy’s issues with oil burning in AFM-equipped trucks, and Ford’s issues with the Coyote 5.0L (ticking sound traced to abnormal wear on cyl #4, many shortblocks replaced), as well as recurring Ecoboost stalling/intercooler trouble. The Toyota 5.7 has proven to be utterly reliable, if a tad thirsty. Blame Toyota’s reluctance to install clearance-robbing air dams, too-tall gearing, and systems that could compromise longevity and add complexity (like chevy’s oil burning AFM system). We also need to consider their motivation behind the lack of MPG-increasing updates: Their hybrid and fuel efficient sedan-heavy sales and lower truck sales allow them the option to sell a fullsize truck that gets a few mpg less than the competition, since the CAFE average works out fine.

      I’m of the opinion “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It’s a safe bet, like more or less the rest of the Toyota lineup. Is the interior the fanciest thing out there? Are the specifications in any particular measure best in class? I don’t think so. People buy Tundras knowing that they’ll spend a bit more at the pump, but in return they’ll get faultless service out of their rigs, and top notch resale when they go to sell.

      I can’t deny fan-boism, but I’ll do my best to present a rational and fact-based argument stating my position.

      • 0 avatar
        an innocent man

        @gtemnykh– Oh, I wasn’t criticizing old school, I also agree don’t fix what works just fine. I was mostly kidding. We are likely going to need to replace both of our vehicles in the next 6-10 months, and I’m about 75% certain I’m going to get a new 4Runner, about as old school tech as they come.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Toyota and Honda for highest odds of reliability. Everything else is a bonus. Tundra just doesn’t offer the configurability/options that many pickup buyers want or need.

        • 0 avatar
          ThirdOwner

          Tundra offers one option others don’t – the sliding rear window glass.

          I love it, and it beats me why other manufacturers don’t have this option. And for that matter, why does Toyota not offer it in their Tacoma models. Rolling that glass down just changes the driving experience.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Third owner, I love the feature on my old 4Runner, so when I somewhat inevitably(?) end up shopping half ton crew cabs, that Tundra rear glass feature will be an extra motivator to stick with the big ‘T.’ Sequoias have it too. I think every SUV and CUV/wagon should have them.

          • 0 avatar
            ThirdOwner

            @gtemnykh I suspect people like you, me and 28 Cars are looking at trucks now is that they are the only class of vehicles left that are based around the concept of honest integrity (read: simplicity / robustness / practicality / durability).

            The general automotive market has moved on in pursuit of the narcissistic / disposable / techno-gadget trends.

            The bridge vehicle class (BoF SUV) offerings are dying off.

            P.S. The sliding rear glass in wagons ought to be mandated by law. /hyperbole

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @ThirdOwner

            I typically buy used and expect a certain ownership period from my vehicles, so yes honest, reliable vehicles from mfg with integrity are important… or in GM’s case vehicles with reliable motor and cheap underpinnings that you assume when buying.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            @Thirdowner,

            Amen. If I can afford the gas bill, I will always buy the vehicle with the maximum amount of utility/capability that I can afford, and simple/durable construction that I will be able to maintain myself is a big plus. I really like BOF construction because I can use any level spot on the frame as a jacking point. I like fat sidewall tires so I don’t have to cringe driving over rough pavement, ditto suspension durability. Most of my hobbies revolve around the outdoors, and sometimes this involves more than just nicely graded gravel roads to get there, I need clearance and something that can take some abuse. I’m in the process of becoming a homeowner, so I will definitely be using my current 4Runner to it’s full capacity hauling mulch, paver stones, ladders, etc. When my fiance and I start a family of our own (in addition to the existing need to haul two larger dogs), I can see myself switching to a fullsize SUV as the ultimate utility vehicle for our needs. I’m waiting to see what the new Armada will look like, although I’m not yet sold on indepedent rear suspensions in this class of vehicle. Another option is to keep it cheap and get either a first gen Sequoia (keeping my favorite opening rear window feature) or go whole hog and get a GMT800 Yukon XL/Suburban. Perhaps 200 series Land Cruisers will depreciate to a palatable price point by then.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @gtemnykh

        I’ve actually got trucks on the brain myself. We get Chrysler and GM discounts through work, but after pretty much eliminating Chrysler (because: Chrysler) I’m down to Tundra Crew Cab vs GMC 2500 Crew Cab, the latter with discounts comes in at 44 (6.0 and 4×4) vs the SR5 Tundra I built for 42 (5.7 and 4×4). I could probably finagle some more discounts on the GMC (because: GM) and have GM card credit so the final price should be similar to Toyota’s whom I doubt will be giving me any financial incentives.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          28 cars, wow that’s quite a shift from the current fleet of three used sedans! Why the change, if I may ask?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’ve always kind of wanted a truck, I would just prefer it to be about the size of the previous Colorado but offer a stout V8. Since that’s not allowed to exist, and because buying a used truck is nearly a fools pursuit these days, aircraft carrier it is (the 4Runner also comes to my mind, but I’d like to add an extra range fuel tank which isn’t available for 4Runne).

            I generally spec out a primary vehicle purchase for ten years and I know the Tundra fits the bill with the GMC probably fitting things as well and both should offer decent resale. I don’t own any real estate at the moment but I may in the next twelve to twenty four months and the ability to haul things suddenly becomes a nice feature. But ya know I also want a C6 Corvette Convertible, a Lex LS, an Acura Legend, a 4.9 Cadillac, and a Riviera so we’ll see what happens. I also should be looking at an EV while they are cheap instead of a battleship but well…

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        gtemnykh – Toyota’s CAFE average means they could put a V16 that got 2 mpg in the Tundra and still not hurt CAFE.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    The problem with the Verano is that the Opel Astra that it’s a rebadge of isn’t quite premium enough for the segment it wants to be in. No HID headlights, ye olde taillight bulbs, no power seat recline until this year, no ACC, and the IP and center stack were already kind of dated when the car was new, and they are REALLY dated now.

    The car desperately needs an update if it wants to tempt anyone away from an A3. On the plus side, it’s still way better than the ILX (what isn’t?)

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      What Tim Cain fails to point out is that there is only one Cruze assembly facility in N.A. compared to multiple plants for Corolla and Civic and that a sale is counted when the car is made and not when sold. So Cruze sales are constrained to production levels.

      Yes, Verano has double, closed to tripled at one time, the Acura ILX in sales. Which is not saying much as Buick has out sold Acura in recent years. As Audi and Mercedes bump the sub-$30,000 threshold Buick Verano has been eating their lunch in sales.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’m surprised you’re not more agitated since the article talked smack on Verano.

        • 0 avatar
          Timothy Cain

          Yea, even more agitation is required because I point out the Verano’s relative rarity… and I really like the Verano Turbo. (http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2012/12/2013-buick-verano-turbo-review-test-drive-canada.html) How can these two things be?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Perhaps potential Verano Turbo owners were made aware of the trials and tribulations one example put a certain fine gentleman from Calgary through.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Once the ILX moves to the Civic’s new platform, this conversation becomes moot.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Vogo

            Honda seems to have responded to the problems with the model, to their credit. Although a Tier I automaker would not have introduced the model with problems in the first place, IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            True, although there should also be a redesigned Verano on the all-new 2016 Cruze’s D2XX platform.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            You’re right, 28CL,
            The original ILX was a mess, especially in terms of model mix. Acura product development really does need to get more consistent. Their CUVs are solid, but when it comes to sedans, they have trouble figuring out who they are, now that Hondas have upper end Touring trim levels.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I speculate the haphazard introduction of the ILX had something to do with the eventual discontinuity of the TSX, but the wiki indicates TSX and TL were both replaced by TLX. Screwing up a model launch is very unlike Honda so I’m not sure what really happened there.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          The Verano has won every comparison with the ILX, except for maybe a couple of over zealous, Civic fanboy types that put the ILX ahead. The verano has beat the ILX even tests of their different, respective engines. No need to defend it but the focus is on cuvs today so the second gen Verano might not make it. I do enjoy driving my 2.0T, even over the XTS VSport Platinum. If you can imagine that?

          Honda/Acura continued to miss the mark and end up with redesigns. The previous generation Civic got an face lift in a little over a year, RLX busts out 300 units monthly, HR-V what? Amongst their sellers they do have some dead weight.

          Then there is the Takata thing….

  • avatar
    Rday

    LOL. the HID headlights cost alot of money to replace. Does one really need them. I had them in a prius and will never order them again. I may have to buy a 1ton pickup and it really concerns me that the Detroit con artists are the only ones in that market. I have been used to Toyota/Honda reliability for so long that it is hard for me to want to spend the kind of money the HD’s cost. Have a PRomaster van and it is not up to snuff when compared to the Japanese. FCA needs to take a well deserved ‘dirt nap’.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The Detroit HDs, if you get them fairly basic and with gas power trains, are pretty solid, reliability wise. Especially for “may need” type usage.
      They are also simple to fix, and have been basically unchanged for about as long a the Tundra, hence are well understood.

      You could also look at the titan XD, although it ain’t no 1 ton.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m shocked *SHOCKED* to see that the Charger was dead-a$s last in its segment.

    FCA and Nissan both look to have a few average-ish products and a few mega stinkers – which sounds about right. Poor showings by Ford and VW as well. GM always seems to do better with JD rating than CR ones.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I’ve never heard the Buick Verano being reliable, let alone the most reliable of all compacts…oops…
    I should of looked at True Delta first
    http://www.truedelta.com/Buick-Verano/reliability-1086

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    There was a discussion on yesterday’s Piston Slap about how Toyota may demand higher-tolerances for Lexus products, and that closer-to-spec engines go in Lexus products…even though the cars and engines are built in the same plants as some of their Toyota counterparts. However, I do not believe FCA is that clinical. The FCA minivans are badge-engineered in a way that the ES and the Camry / Avalon—for example—never were. I think the discrepancy between the ratings of the Town & Country and the Grand Caravan deserves a closer look.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Good point Kyree,
      The difference is more likely in the audience that is reporting the quality defects rather than differences at the factory. You could make an argument that T&C buyers are older and maybe more easily satisfied with middling quality, whereas Dodge buyers are younger, less affluent, and more likely to focus on defects.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        This. One wonders how you’d factor such things into a test, though.

        There’s also a possibility that a significant number of the Dodges are just fleet / commercial cars. If I buy a cheap Grand Caravan to deliver flowers all over town, I’m going to be less concerned or even likely to notice fit-and-finish defects than the retirees (like my neighbors) who just dropped $35K on a new, nicely-equipped Town & Country.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        The factory may have a separate inspection/finesse area in plant to correct issues that may be present. I can only comment on one plant, but Ford/Lincoln does send Lincolns (and export models) to a separate inspection/finesse building before being approved. All Lincolns get a “real world” road test where as Ford models do not; they do arrive at dealers with 20-30 miles on each car. They also had a program that pretty much cut approval time for warranty repairs down to nothing; no photos or evidence is required.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          Or it could have been as simple as the Town and Country having a head unit screen standard which made Bluetooth pairing easy versus a 1-text-line LED screen on the Dodge that made Bluetooth pairing a pain in the butt.

    • 0 avatar
      ThirdOwner

      Thanks for mentioning this Kyree, I missed that discussion. It adds another anecdotal support point to my theory that Lexus products are built to a higher spec than their equivalent Toyota models.

      I’d love to know whether this holds to the products assembled at the same plant in Japan – for example: GX vs 4Runner, as I’m in the market for either (used).

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        “I’d love to know whether this holds to the products assembled at the same plant in Japan – for example: GX vs 4Runner, as I’m in the market for either (used).”

        Quite welcome. And that was the point of the discussion. At this point, the ES and the Avalon are built in the same factory, as are the engines. The theory is that the engines whose tolerances are closer-to-spec are installed in the Lexuses, or more accurately that engines that are further-from-spec are never installed in the Lexus products. Also, the Lexus products may see additional testing and inspection overall…as someone mentions is the case with Lincoln products versus their Ford counterparts.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          That just made me think of the old commercial from probably 10 years ago for the ES, where there were little thin robot finger ball things rolling all over the car, checking the paint surface and panel gaps.

          You could compare that to the Toyota side of the line, where a guy takes a hankie or something and swats at a fly on the Camry’s mirror.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    When car makers keep putting lipstick on old pigs, and with ancient “tech”, they win again in reliability surveys.

    • 0 avatar
      nels0300

      Sometimes the “ancient tech” is better than the “new” tech.

      What turbo DI motor in the Accord/Camry class performs better and gets better real world mileage than a V6 Accord or Camry?

      The Honda J series V6 and Toyota GR V6 are better than anything else in the class (performance, NVH, efficiency, and most likely reliability) and they’re “ancient”.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        Same thing with GM’s LS V8s vs Ford’s DOHC V8s and ecoboost engines.

        I’ll take the ancient pushrod GM LS V8 over any of the Ford powertrains in a truck, and I don’t even like GM.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          I’d love a new F-150 or Super Duty with a late ’90s 351 Windsor or big block 460. LS engines are the best out there right now, but the Triton V10 is great, but only available in commercial F-450s and up.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Not for long, the V10 makes it’s triumphant return to the F250 and F350 with the introduction of the new model. At least that is what it is currently on Ford’s website currently.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I like “ancient tech” if it means top marks in durability and reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Yep. My mechanic friend just spend three days in tech classes on the new-fangled stuff in modern cars.

        Direct gasoline injection is proving to be a nightmare for several automakers. Stories about entire engine teardowns with less than 10K miles, due to carbon buildup on the rings and other parts.

        Methinks that the days of Toyonda engines going 250-300K miles with a couple of timing belt changes are over.

        I’m going to stick with port injection for as long as I can.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Y’know, I’m thinking about selling/trading my 2012 Impala LTZ on a newer ride before I retire, but on the build-your-own area of the Chevy website, I can’t find the 250 cu. in. 6 cyl/Powerglide option anywhere…

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Yeah that’s real funny there Zackman. But think about how disposable your new ’17 Impala will be, 10+ years down the line.

        Really, who’s gonna work on all these current and future, ultra “high tech” cars, with what parts? Consider all the processor interfacing, stereo/HVAC integration, nannie sensor/electronics, AND car makers (and their suppliers) leaving us high and dry, 10 year in (or less), when modules, infotainment, chip boards, relay boxes, excess wire looms/connector plugs, etc, start to fail?

        Car repair will go the way of the “TV Repairman”. I know you remember those..

        Do you think your grand, great grand kids will be glad get *gifted*, your 180,000 mile, 2017 Chevy?? “Don’t do us any favours, huh Gramps?”

    • 0 avatar
      Von

      The Prius had pretty good reliability even when they were first introduced, and not ancient.

  • avatar
    Behind The Times

    We switched into a Lexus GX and GS from BMWs. Can’t say I’m surprised by the survey results, both vehicles have been flawless in every way. I definitely see the lack of popularity, though – we’re in a good sized Canadian city and I’ve seen maybe 2-3 other GS’s on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      On a side note, can you guess the last “new car” with a “Tape deck” stereo? Bingo! it was a Lexus. 2010 Lexus SC 430

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        The GX wasn’t far behind; it had a tape deck through the entirety of the first-generation production run, which ended after MY2009.

        • 0 avatar
          IHateCars

          My ’08 Acura TL Type-S had a CD/cassete/MP3 stereo as well. Which was awesome….had a reason to dig up all those mixed cassettes that I made in my high school & university days.

          • 0 avatar
            Fred

            My 2007 Audi had a cassette player. My Dad sent me his old tapes to listen to. Otherwise I had an adapter plugged into it for my mp3 player.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Those tape converters are such bad quality. If you still have a need for similar, the Monster brand ones which tune to the radio are far superior.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The GS is similarly unpopular here, although I think it’s one of the top 3 cars to have in the mid-sized RWD luxury sedan segment.

      The GX, however, has benefitted from a resurgence in sales since its 2014 refresh. I see several of the newer 2014 – present ones in a given day. It is one of the last mid-sized BOF SUVs in the North American market, and it’s a Toyota to boot. It should serve you well, and hold its resale value tremendously.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        The GS is too similar in size to the ES which costs $20,000 less but looks similar (effectively, to non-car people). And few Lexus sedan buyers care about the RWD difference. The nicer interior isn’t enough to justify that price difference.

        Especially now that there’s no V8 option *sad face*.

        • 0 avatar
          Behind The Times

          There is the GS-F for a V8. Naturally aspirated too. I’ve been looking at (so far) the only one in town, at the dealership. It’s been in since the beginning of February with no takers. It’s in that fantastic blue color too.

          In my opinion the GS is better “stanced” than the ES and I see the difference clearly (but agree non car people may not). One guy in another GS followed me into a gas station to chat about our cars, he was so excited to see another one.

          I taught my wife to use the GX diff locker and she used it once going up a steep hill in freezing rain. Cars were backsliding, turning sideways, etc and she locked the diff and “zipped” (according to her) around them.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh right! I forgot about the GS-F. It’s so expensive and halo, most people wouldn’t know what it was or that it exists, I bet. Plus, I find the F styling applied to anything is quite garish and unsuitable for any larger car.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            The GS-F is probably 7/10ths of what you’d get from an E63 AMG, M5 or RS6. However, it’s also substantially less expensive…and probably more durable.

            I agree that the GS looks quite a bit different than the ES, but you’re right in that a lot of people seriously wouldn’t understand why the well-equipped ES is $45K and the well-equipped GS is $60K.

          • 0 avatar
            derekson

            “The GS-F is probably 7/10ths of what you’d get from an E63 AMG, M5 or RS6. However, it’s also substantially less expensive…and probably more durable.”

            It’s around 85% of the price though. And for the same price you can get a CTS-V with a 640 HP V8 and a better chassis. I get the complaints about the CTS not being cushy enough, but if you’re looking at the performance versions then that shouldn’t be a problem.

            Personally, for that kind of money I’d take an S7.

        • 0 avatar
          ernest

          Oddly enough, there’s a good half-dozen GS’s in my ‘hood and only one ES that I’m aware of. All the GS’s are AWD versions.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    I learned the hard way not to trust J.D. Power for long term ownership of a car. Here’s why:

    They might look at reams of data, Cpk studies, quality metrics and dealer feedback all they want–or they might not– but what they are really dealing with is a projected 3 year ownership experience based on a snapshot in time of a brand-spanking new car.

    What comes to light only over time is how the materials (especially on the inside), will age and degrade, how seat cushions pack down, how clearcoat might fail, how transmission components wear, and how engine components succeed or fail due to thermal cycling.

    You can try to predict this all you want, but in the end, for buyers like me who don’t want to eat the depreciation on a brand new car, I look for value in a 2-4 year old higher-end car with good maintenance history.

    Two 2001 MY cars I had experience with were a Lesabre and an Avalon. Both built in the States. The Buick at 72K had documented maintenance since new. The Avalon did not, but was gently used in the same family for 123K miles and I needed a comfy and dependable commute (120 miles daily) car for a number of years.

    Due to engineering, build quality and material selection, those 2 cars could not have been farther apart in quality. The Lesabre was a horrible, uncomfortable, skittishly handling car that ate window regulators like candy and whose dash cover was starting to shrink and pull away from the windshield . I took a serious resale hit just to get rid of it.

    The Avalon was the complete opposite. Despite having the 3 liter V6 that had a reputation for sludging, mine was pristine under the valve covers at 220K when I sold it (yes, oil changes matter), and it needed only an o2 sensor, brakes, tires and valve cover gaskets for the 100K I drove it.

    You get better feedback from user forums, but even then you have to separate the fanboys from real-world users who need reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @55_wrench – key word is dependability. That is based on how reliable it is. JD Power “VDS” is about what needed fixing. Their “Initial Quality” Report tends to do a better job of issues like ergonomics, ease of use etc. Ultimately one must not use any one source in isolation. You have to look at other sources as well.
      I look at JD Power and CR first and then look at other data gathering sources.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Jd power has basically the same credibility as consumers digest. It’s pay to play. They have there initial quality and three year surveys. They then turn around and sell dealers and manufacturers consulting services on how to do good on those surveys. When they come out to do “their ” consulting they will give you some meaningless advice such as the placement of your vending machine in relation to the toilets, charge crazy amounts for it, and then you will move up the list. It really has no bearing on anything.

  • avatar
    theonlydt

    The Verano is desperately in need of an update and unfortunately has been left to languish by GM. That it’s still only available with the 2.4, which has been superseded by the 2.5 and now a 1.5 turbo is a crying shame. I felt like a mid-life refresh with the 2.5 (a little more power and torque, a little less coarse) and maybe some infotainment upgrades would have kept it more relevant.

    It’s a shame, I actually like the Verano. It’s quite, comfortable and “chill”. Who cares about rear legroom? It’s the perfect suburban commuter.


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