By on February 14, 2018

2018 Lexus LS 500h

J.D. Power and Associates continued their now routine praise of Buick, Lexus, and Porsche by giving the brands top honors in the company’s latest annual dependability study.

The survey, which assesses the number of reported problems per 100 vehicles during the first three years of vehicle ownership, resulted in Lexus achieving top marks with only 99 claimed issues. Toyota’s premium brand (which has won seven years running) was followed closely by Porsche with 100 reported problems, whereas Buick was the “mass market” brand with the fewest faults at 116.

Issues pertaining to audio, communications, navigation, or entertainment systems continued to yield the highest number of complaints from consumers in 2018. However, the gap between luxury and mainstream brands appears to be closing, as most of last year’s top performers lost a little ground to mid-level mainstream competitors. Infiniti saw the most improvement overall, coming from the bottom of the pack in 2017 to take 4th overall this year. It was followed by Kia, with 122 problems per 100 vehicles — proving that premium levels of quality are not exclusive to premium brands. 

Speaking of which, suspiciously absent from J.D. Power’s listings was Tesla Motors. The study made no mention of the electric brand whatsoever. When questioned, Power explained that the automaker had not provided access to owner information, adding that a sufficiently large sample was unavailable for Tesla models to be included in the study.

Chevrolet, Hyundai, BMW, Toyota, Lincoln, Nissan, Honda, and Audi all managed to stay above the industry average of 142 problems per 100 vehicles. Mazda and Mercedes-Benz fell just short with 145 and 147 issues, respectively.

No longer positioned exclusively at the bottom of J.D. Power’s dependability list, Fiat Chrysler brands were spread throughout the bottom third for 2018. Dodge fared the best with 166 reported problems within the first three years of ownership, while Chrysler scored the worst with a lackluster 211 — giving it the dubious honor of being the worst-performing brand in the survey.

Land Rover garnered the second-most reported incidents with 204, followed by Fiat and Jeep. Admittedly, FCA still didn’t do particularly well in 2018. But its overall performance did show notable improvements against last year’s standings.

A complete breakdown of all North American brands is available at J.D. Power’s website. Even a cursory examination reveals marked improvement in overall powertrain dependability — at least within the first three years of ownership — and an industry that’s still coming to grips with how to help customers understand in-car technologies. Either that, or new tech has become a quagmire for service centers.

“For the most part, automotive manufacturers continue to meet consumers’ vehicle dependability expectations,” explained Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. “A 9-percent improvement is extremely impressive, and vehicle dependability is, without question, at its best level ever.”

[Image: Lexus]

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46 Comments on “Buick and Lexus Predictably Top J.D. Power’s Dependability Survey...”


  • avatar
    Higheriq

    Buick? Hmmm, most defects have to be seen. Old people don’t see very well, and they buy Buicks. What’s wrong with THIS picture.

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      Hey, I resent that. I’m old but I see very well. My new Lacrosse looks fine, thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Both Buick and Lexus keep it simple, quiet, smooth, and produce a positive dealer experience. Not surprising they won.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Buick’s average age of owners is not that different from Lexus.

      It’s mainly soccer-moms driving the Enclave and Envision CUVs and older buyers aren’t the type to purchase the Regal.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Wait until Lexus/Toyota introduce Apple Carplay /Android Auto and turbo-4 complexity like Buick already has.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged Miata Man

        Wait until those Lexus/Toyota owners drive past their broken-down Buick compatriots.

        But hey, at least they’ll be able to enjoy their smartphone-mirroring infotainment until the battery dies.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          Agreed.

          “To be able to use the J.D. Power logo and to quote the survey results in advertising, companies must pay a licensing fee to J.D. Power. These advertisement licensing fees form a small part of J.D. Power’s revenues but a substantial portion of earnings.[1]”
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J.D._Power_and_Associates

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I wonder when the JD Power and Consumer Reports are crap crowd will chime in?

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I really like my Regal GS. It’s super comfortable, has options I didn’t know I needed (heated steering wheel is now a requirement), has lots of high quality touch points, and performs as expected.

    The only defects are that the front obstacle sensors will randomly blare at me while reversing and the left rear door handle key-less lock button tends to not respond when pressed.

    I had higher expectations as far as performance, but it has enough juice to get going. The gas mileage leaves a lot to be desired considering it is a 4 cylinder and I use it to commute and rarely ever ring it out.

    I’m curious to see if I get early offers to put me in a new Regal once I get closer to turn in time. I’m not likely to keep it since the residual seems a bit high but I’d consider a new wagon if the payments are comparable.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Not sure how the ecu tune on the older LHU 2.0T Regal, but the 2016 Envision 2.0T was logging 270 lb-ft of torque on 87 octane stock. Currently see 350 lb-ft with HPTuners or 80-90 more than stock.

      I was eyeing the TourX down the road but the feature content is short of the Envision Premium ll for the price.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Fun fact: compared to the 2008 VDS rankings Cadillac is the only brand to get a worse score in this suvey.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Buick has been doing well on these things for a long time. I used to think it was just that all possible bugs had been worked out of the H-body (and derivative) platform and 3800 engine, but they’ve continued to do well in the Epsilon and Lambda era. Might be a good reason to step up to a LaCrosse or Enclave if you’re interested in an Impala or Traverse.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      The sister car thing is interesting to think about. The Impala and previous-gen LaCrosse, e.g., were built in separate factories. Did the Buick line run a little slower? And to what degree did the General allow Buick to apply money from the higher MSRPs into the design and materials.

      Conversely, MKS’s were built in the same factory as Tauruses (presumably on the exact same line, since the two are so structurally similar). What differences were in play there? (I know the MKS’s got a bored out V6, for one.)

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        LaCrosse was assembled with Malibu in Fairfax, KS. Which would justify the lower production of the two.

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          Why? Did you mean both were produced in low numbers? Was the Fairfax, KS plant a low-volume plant? Did they make LaCrosse’s at the same time as Malibu’s? That’s such a confusing statement.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            El Scotto, do you follow any of thr platform sharing comments on here? Living in Ohio you’ll find out the CR-V is made one county over from the RDX. The platform sharing goes to cars and cuv’s too.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Hopefully, GM is moving to make Chevrolet into American Toyota and Buick into American Lexus. They have a long way to go, since Toyotas and Lexuses will run 20 years without breaking a sweat, but the dependability numbers look good.

    Cadillac is tracking Mercedes so reliability is irrelevant for them. German luxury car buyers are the BDSM niche of car consumers. Black on black with lots of leather and wood. Financial bondage. The more pain and humiliation caused by ownership, the better the experience. Please break me! My life is too good!

    • 0 avatar

      Having sold new auto parts for the last 18 years, not all Toyotas are super reliable anymore. Ford and Chevy trucks last longer with fewer repairs than the Toyota trucks. The wear items in the Toyotas lasting only about 120k miles, whereas the Americans can go 150-200k miles. Dodge is not part of my factoring; their wear items only last about 80k miles. They’re excellent for business.

    • 0 avatar
      W210Driver

      What is this German car ownership BDSM experience you speak of? My 1997 E420 and 1998 E300 Turbodiesel have given me zero major issues.

      My Lexus ES250 on the other hand was a reliability nightmare.

    • 0 avatar
      ernest

      “German luxury car buyers are the BDSM niche of car consumers. Black on black with lots of leather and wood. Financial bondage. The more pain and humiliation caused by ownership, the better the experience. Please break me! My life is too good!”

      Haha! This post made my day.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      And the repair shops and parts store can charge top dollar for the Toyota parts for your foreign car or truck. Even though they are most made here.

      Today’s Toyota and Honda are $3,000-8,000 more expensive than just about all of thr other economy cars and cuvs. If you are a gamer your odds are good that you’ll never have to spend that much on repair parts with eveybody else. With the cash on the hood difference Japanese resale value is moot.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Most Toyota’s and Honda’s are made in the US. What you meant by “foreign car” is unclear to most of us. Toyota and Honda use higher quality control for their parts than the Big 3 normally do. Yes, many suppliers make parts for the Japanese and the Big. The Japanese just use stricter quality control protocols. I’m not sure if being a “gamer” is something cool in your mind. No, the resale value is not moot to most people. Total Cost of Ownership (Vehicle Price less depreciation and repair costs) plus resale value when you trade your vehicle matters to most people. Trifecta Tunes and tales of gaining financial advantage over a dealer are looked at disparagingly by most of us on here. I understand that many community colleges offer courses in remedial English and Logic. You may find these helpful.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          El Scotto, fleetfilter just proved you wrong. Do you work in the service parts industry to support your claim of higher quality part differences?

          Condicending comments towards other do not help your arguement.

          • 0 avatar
            el scotto

            Fleetfilter is retail web site that sells oil filters. Hardly the most subjective source. No, I didn’t I work in the “service parts industry”; your term, not mine. I used to set up and coordinate quality control procedures at automotive parts suppliers. Yes, the Japanese would routinely set up stricter quality control protocols than the Big 3. Or the Japanese would have us do QC inspections on parts the Big 3 never bothered with. In fairness, once they adopted QC procedures, the Big 3 followed them like religion. Also, a lot of automotive suppliers would sell their wares to anyone who would buy them. Or the truck that stops at the Toyota plant stops at the Dodge plant. It’s just that Toyota uses QC for their parts suppliers and then will use the same QC company in manufacturing facility. So yeah, there is a difference. Also, WordPress has spellcheck.

  • avatar
    hirostates12

    The most dependable cars are usually owned by the most dependable owners. This is no exception.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I’m confused at the wide discrepancy between Buick and Cadillac, isn’t most of the content similar / identical parts, especially GM common power trains and body platforms?

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      “Reported Problems.” They’re measuring buyer attitude and analtude, as much as “objective” (as if that is even measurable/definable) lack of problems.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Caddy is more cutting edge, performance oriented, and targets prissy buyers. Buick is more stable, targeting stable buyers.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “Caddy is more cutting edge, performance oriented, and targets prissy buyers.”

        If that is what hurt Cadillac then that makes Porsche’s 2nd place finish impressive.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          P, in addition to the prissy lease payment polishers, still do sell quite a few cars to car guys. Who are less likely to freak out if their exhaust should pop a bit on overrun. Now, Lexus, otoh, have pretty much built their brand around the “I deserve” classes’ expectation of “perfection.” Not much patience for slipup there.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Cue

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Buick and Cadillac only have one platform in common, the stretch Epsilon that underlies the LaCrosse and XTS. Nothing else is shared between those two brands anymore (although there’s a distant relationship between the XT5 and Envision).

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        The XT5 shares platform with Acadia now(E2XX). The Equinox, Terrain, and Envision share D2xx platform.

        The only thing XT5 and Envision share is the Twin Clutch AWD that sends 100% torque to a single wheel while three others slip. Some Acura cannot do only sending 70% to one corner.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    JD Power – I’d like to see how their “ratings” stack ag/ their client billings.

    I’d rate JD Power near the bottom of “research” firms.

    “ J.D. Power obtains the majority of its revenue from corporations that seek the data collected from J.D. Power surveys for internal use.[1] Companies which have used J.D. Power surveys range from automotive, cellphone, and computer manufacturers to home builders and utility companies. To be able to use the J.D. Power logo and to quote the survey results in advertising, companies must pay a licensing fee to J.D. Power. These advertisement licensing fees form a small part of J.D. Power’s revenues but a substantial portion of earnings.[1]”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J.D._Power_and_Associates

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Not many are collecting data for free, not even Consumer Reports.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        All sorts of data is being collected for free. Every keystroke you’ve inputted on the ‘net and every time your cell phone stopped moving was collected data. Finding a market for my comments, and anyone who really cares, written on TTAC and the fact I stopped at Arby’s at approximately 1230 is whole other thing. J.D. Power and whoever hires them are widely considered to be in an act of mutual masturbation. The print rags proudly turn into self-licking ice cream cones for whoever buys the most ad space. Consumer Reports (CR) has its flaws, discussed on here many times, but it is considered an “Honest Broker” by many. CR does technically collect their data for free. Yes, people subscribe to their snooze-fest of a magazine. CR runs test and collects data on various objects and hopes the consumer wants to buy their results. Their annual Car Review usually sells well. Report this year’s best mullet trimmer? Not so much.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    The Buicks do have higher-quality interior materials, at least that’s what I took away from the auto show last week. In particular, the cheap membrane steering-wheel controls in the Chevvies are replaced by actual buttons in the Buicks.

    (There was a Regal liftback on the floor, but I couldn’t find the hatch release switch! Pawed around the door, in the glovebox, and center console looking for it.)

    Is the Regal GS liftback only available in red over black? (The one with a V6?)

    I do like the adoption of LED interior lighting across the GM lineup — classy!

    Didn’t get to see Caddys or HyundKias, as that dealer group didn’t show anything. (No Rincolns either.)


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