2018 VDS finds that dependability has improved overall for the first time since 2013.
JD Power has released the results for its 2018 Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), measuring the number of problem owners experienced with their 2015 model year vehicles during this past year. The overall industry average took a serious positive turn, improving nine percent over last year's results. Big winners this year are Lexus, which beat Porsche out for top spot by one measly point (after suffering the shame of a tie last year), and Buick, which was third overall and the best "Mass Market" brand.
Toyota was also a standout with six segment winners, the most of any corporate group: Lexus CT, Lexus ES, Lexus GS, Lexus RX, Toyota Prius and Toyota Tacoma. General Motors was right on its heels with five: Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Traverse and Chevrolet Silverado. Scores are measured in "problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100)", so the lower the score, the more dependable the vehicle, although problems can include anything from powertrain malfunctions to paint flaws and wonky Bluetooth connections.
Among the most improved were Fiat, which brought its PP100 down from 298 to 192 (that's a full 106 for anyone that's counting!!!), and while it rises out of last place, its still third worst in the industry, with Land Rover second last at 204 and Chrysler at 211 – a horrendous dropoff from its 159 in the 2017 VDS. Another feel-good story for mainstream brands is Kia, which claimed fifth with 122 PP100 in the VDS after claiming first in JD Power's 2017 Initial Quality Study. While these studies tend to lump the big problems in with the small, they are still one indicator of long-term reliability, and can factor into a vehicle's residual value.
"Strong dependability scores not only improve demand for used vehicles, but also are a contributor to higher residual values," said Jonathan Banks, Vice President of Vehicle Analysis and Analytics at J.D. Power. "Improving dependability ultimately supports new vehicle sales and provides a better perception of the brand." JD Power's 2018 VDS is based on survey feedback from "36,896 original owners of 2015 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership." The study was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2017.