In 2007, General Motors Company ceded its reputation as the world’s largest automaker to Toyota largely on the strength of the Japanese automaker’s reputation for reliability. However, in late 2009 and early 2010, Toyota recalled approximately 9 million vehicles worldwide over concerns over unintended acceleration problems. Since then, the automaker has struggled to regain market share and rehabilitate its public image.
The newly-released J.D. Power and Associates (JDPA) Vehicle Dependability Study may go a long way toward rebuilding Toyota’s tarnished image as the auto industry leader for dependability. In it, Toyota’s luxury Lexus brand was the highest rated brand in terms of long-term dependability.
J.D. Power and Associates’ vice president of global automotive David Sargent says, “The continuous improvement in long-term dependability means consumers should have more confidence in three-year-old vehicles, whether they are keeping their current vehicle or shopping for a used car, truck, crossover or SUV.”
The 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study found an industry-wide average of 126 problems per 100 vehicles based on responses from 3,700 owners of 2010-model vehicles, including cars, light trucks, SUVs and crossovers. That’s the lowest level of problems since the annual studies were initiated in 1989, and a five percent decrease compared to the previous year when JDPA reported an industry-wide average of 132 problems per 100 vehicles.
The Lexus RX crossover was rated as the most reliable vehicle in the study with only 57 problems per 100 vehicles. The RX is the first crossover model to earn the study’s highest ranking.
Toyota claimed more segment awards for long-term dependability than any other automaker – seven in all. The Lexus ES 350 also took top honors for its segment, as did the Toyota Prius, Toyota Sienna, Toyota RAV4, Scion xB and Scion xD.
Rounding out the list of top-5 most dependable nameplates behind Lexus were Porsche, Ford Motor Company’s Lincoln brand, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz.
According to JDPA, the fewer problems an owner experiences, the more loyal they are to the brand. Fifty-four percent of owners say they will remain loyal to a particular brand if they experience no problems. However, brand loyalty drops by 59 percent if an owner experiences as few as three or four problems.