While luxury brands took the top two spots, mass-market vehicles finished with above-average scores in dependability compared to higher-priced brands.
In the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, Lexus topped the rankings with 133 problems per 100 (PP100), followed by Genesis at 144 PP100. The next ranked luxury brand was BMW with 184 PP11, just above the industry average of 186 PP100.
Kia placed third overall, starting a string of placements for mass-market vehicle brands with a score of 152 PP100. It was followed by Buick (159 PP100) and Chevrolet (162 PP100) to round out the overall top five.
Luxury brands like Audi (252 PP100), Lincoln (259 PP100) and Land Rover (273 PP100) not only finished well below industry averages, they scored the worst in the rankings.
Tesla scored 242 PP100 but J.D. Power noted that it couldn’t be placed in official rankings because it did not meet the award criteria of the study — the company doesn’t allow J.D. Power access to owner information in states where permission is required by law.
The industry average of 186 represents an improvement of six points from 2022. The study examined how 2020 model-year vehicles are performing today when it comes to quality, component replacement and appeal — including those vehicles with new technology. The lower the PP100 score, the higher the performance.
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Mass market brands scored an overall average of 182 PP100 while luxury brands came in at 205 PP100.
The gap between the two segments is at its widest since the study launched 34 years ago. However, there is an explanation for the gap: New technology. By being first introduced to luxury brands, it has a higher chance of failure before reaching mass market brands. The higher complexity of the technology brings the likelihood of more problems.
“It is typical in the automotive industry to roll out concepts and features by putting them in premium vehicles first,” said Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power.
The study covers 184 specific problem areas across nine major vehicle categories: Climate; driving assistance; driving experience; exterior; features/controls/displays; infotainment; interior; powertrain; and seats.
The study also found that infotainment systems remain most problematic with an average score of 419.9 PP100. That’s more than double the next highest category, exterior. The study found issues in six areas: Built-in voice recognition, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity, built-in Bluetooth system connectivity, touchscreen/display screen difficult to use, not enough power plugs/USB ports and navigation system inaccurate/outdated map.
Technology is important to consumers as vehicle satisfaction correlates with how up to date the vehicle’s tech is. “Satisfaction scores for vehicle condition improve when vehicles receive over-the-air software updates to infotainment systems that are perceived to not be meeting today’s standards,” J.D. Power said.
Of note, J.D. Power noted a reduction in component replacement. When not including wear items, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of vehicles required fewer component replacements in the past 12 months — including key fob/key fob battery; brake rotors; headlight components/bulbs; and other exterior lights/bulbs — than in the 2022 study.