Lexus tops 2018 dependability rankings, FCA struggles: JD Power

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The overall USA auto industry average improved to 142 problems per 100 vehicles in 2017, down 9 percent from 156 problems in 2016, according to the study.

That's putting a fun spin on things but the research is pretty serious as it examines the number of problems that original owners of 2015 vehicles have experienced in the past year. The study was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2017.

The 2018 average problem figure came to 142, against the previous year's 156, showing a decline for the first time in five years, J.D. Power said.

The study found that vehicle dependability increased 9% over the 2017 study, which was the first increase since 2013.

For used vehicle buyers, selecting a three year-old model not only comes at a lower price than a new auto, it might be just as reliable. J.D. Power says customers complain most frequently about problems with voice recognition technology and Bluetooth connectivity. Another key finding is that mass-market brands appear to be gaining on their luxury counterparts in terms of dependability.

J.D. Power finds that vehicle residual values can be significantly affected by better long-term quality. "Improving dependability ultimately supports new vehicle sales and provides a better perception of the brand".

Buick led the mass-market segment with 116 reported problems per 100 vehicles, 10 fewer than a year ago.

Buick ranks highest in overall vehicle dependability among Mass Market brands with a score of 116 PP100.

Other brands showing sharp improvements include Kia, Nissan, Ford, and Dodge. Kia's fifthplace ranking is the brand's best-ever VDS performance. Dodge and Nissan also earn their best rankings ever.

Toyota, meanwhile, drove off with six of the 19 segment awards - mostly among the Lexus nameplate. These awardees are Lexus CT, Lexus ES, Lexus GS, Lexus RX, Toyota Prius and Toyota Tacoma. The focus of this year's study was vehicles from the 2015 model year. If the problems lie in an optional feature that you're not interested in, adjust your assessment accordingly.

Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus topped the chart as the most dependable brand for the seventh year in a row, followed by Porsche, according to J.D. Power's annual U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, released Wednesday.