April 27, 2009 10:16 PM | By Dee-Ann Durbin (AP)

Buick is a match for Lexus in latest J.D. Power study



Buick Enclave

Buick tied with Lexus as the highest-ranking brand in a closely-watched study of vehicle dependability, marking the first time in 12 years that Lexus has shared the top award.

Cadillac, Mercury and Honda rounded out the top five brands in the annual survey, which measures problems experienced by the original owners of three-year-old vehicles. Both Buick and Lexus had 145 problems per 100 vehicles.

The worst-performing brand, Land Rover, had 398 problems. The industry average was 216 problems, down from 227 problems in last year's survey.

"People don't have to necessarily spend premium money to get equal value," said Neal Oddes, director of product research and analysis for J.D. Power. "That's good news for people," he added.

Buick moving towards lofty goal

Toyota Tundra

That's also good news for General Motors. Its Vice-chairman Bob Lutz said the automaker is moving toward its goal of Buick becoming a direct competitor to Lexus, with the same level of quality and elegance – but selling for $10,000 to $15,000 less: "Increasingly it's becoming evident that it's exactly coming out the way we planned," he said Thursday.

An official with Toyota Motor Corp., which owns Lexus, says the company is pleased that its Toyota, Lexus and Scion divisions (the latter not sold in Canada – ed) took 10 of 19 segment awards and doesn't see a problem when other automakers improve: "It's always good to see the industry... as a whole perform better than prior years – that's a positive trend for consumers," said Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager for the Toyota division: "It continues to push the benchmarks even higher."

Study targets 2004 models

The 2007 survey is based on the responses of 53,000 owners of 2004 model year vehicles. The survey gives all problems equal weight.

Honda S2000

Oddes said the most frequent problem cited is wind noise, followed by noisy brakes, seat belts that fail to retract, poor ride handling and uneven tire wear. Oddes said complaints about seats and interiors rose slightly this time around, but in most categories, complaints were down.

In segment breakdowns, Lexus had five winners, including the midsize ##%GS 300[[%LNK|VipTrims|2004|Lexus|GS 300|1644052004%]]1%## and large ##%LS 430[[%LNK|VipTrims|2004|Lexus|LS430|1634122004%]]2%## luxury sedans, while Toyota had four, including the ##%Tundra[[%LNK|VipTrims|2004|Toyota|Tundra|%]]4%## and ##%Tacoma[[%LNK|VipTrims|2004|Toyota|Tacoma|%]]3%## pickups. The most-improved brand in the 2007 survey was ##%Hummer[[%LNK|VipTrims|2007|Hummer|H2|%]]5%##, which improved its score to 242 problems per 100 vehicles from 307 last year. The most-improved vehicles were the ##%Volvo XC90[[%LNK|VipTrims|2007|Volvo|XC90|%]]6%## and ##%Audi A6[[%LNK|VipTrims||Audi|A6|%]]7%##, which both eliminated 104 problems, Oddes said.

Repairs affect ownership, loyalty

The survey found that 65 per cent of owners experienced one or more problems that required components to be replaced. Oddes said owners understand that some parts, such as brake pads, need to be replaced, but if they have to replace expensive items such as transmissions or if they have to replace smaller parts more often than they expect, they will keep their vehicle an average of one year less and will be less likely to consider that brand in the future.

Chevrolet SSR

Oddes said vehicles with strong dependability numbers can retain up to 15 per cent more of their value over three years. That helps consumers selling used vehicles as well as automakers and dealers, which may be able to sell a dependable vehicle two or three times over its lifetime.

J.D. Power's results are watched closely by automakers and are often used in advertising. The firm also releases an initial quality study, which measures problems in the first 90 days of ownership, but the dependability results are important to automakers because the way owners feel about their vehicles after three years can have a big impact on their decision to buy another vehicle of that brand.

NOTE - AP writers Tom Krisher in Traverse City and Jeff Karoub in Detroit contributed to this report.

NAMEPLATE RANKINGS

In problems per 100 vehicles (PP100)

Buick - 145 PP100
Lexus - 145 PP100
Cadillac - 162 PP100
Mercury - 168 PP100
Honda - 169 PP100
Toyota - 178 PP100
BMW - 182 PP100
Lincoln - 182 PP100
Subaru - 192 PP100
Oldsmobile - 196 PP100
Jaguar - 197 PP100
Acura - 207 PP100
Mercedes-Benz - 212 PP100
Infiniti - 215 PP100

Industry Average: 216 PP100

Jeep - 219 PP100
Pontiac - 220 PP100
Scion - 220 PP100
Ford - 221 PP100
GMC - 222 PP100
Chevrolet - 226 PP100
Hyundai - 228 PP100
Mitsubishi - 228 PP100
Volvo - 230 PP100
Audi - 234 PP100
Dodge - 236 PP100
Hummer - 242 PP100
Mini - 247 PP100
Chrysler - 249 PP100
Porsche - 252 PP100
Nissan - 274 PP100
Saturn - 274 PP100
Kia - 288 PP100
Mazda - 289 PP100
Volkswagen - 298 PP100
Saab - 319 PP100
Isuzu - 322 PP100
Suzuki - 324 PP100
Land Rover - 398 PP100

TOP VEHICLES BY CATEGORY

Sub-Compact Car

  • Highest-ranked model: Scion xA *
  • 1st runner-up: Hyundai Accent
  • 2nd runner-up: Chevrolet Aveo

Compact Car

  • Highest-ranked model: Honda Civic
  • 1st runner-up: Toyota Prius
  • 2nd runner-up: Toyota Corolla

Midsize Car

  • Highest-ranked model: Buick Century **
  • 1st runner-up: Buick Regal **
  • 2nd runner-up: Mercury Sable *

Large Car

  • Highest-ranked model: Ford Crown Victoria
  • 1st runner-up: Mercury Grand Marquis *
  • 2nd runner-up: Buick Park Avenue **

Entry Premium Car

  • Highest-ranked models: Infiniti i35 **
  • 1st runner-up: Cadillac CTS
  • 2nd runner-up: Lexus IS 300 & IS 300 Sportcross

Midsize Premium Car

  • Highest-ranked model: Lexus GS 300 & GS 430
  • 1st runner-up: Acura RL
  • 2nd runner-up: Lexus ES 330

Large Premium Car

  • Highest-ranked model: Lexus LS 430
  • 1st runner-up: Lincoln Town Car
  • 2nd runner-up: Cadillac DeVille

Compact Sporty Car

  • Highest-ranked model: Mazda MX-5 Miata
  • 1st runner-up: Mitsubishi Lancer/Sportback
  • 2nd runner-up: Toyota Celica **

Midsize Sporty Car

  • Highest-ranked model (tie): Chevrolet SSR **
  • Highest-ranked model (tie): Ford Mustang
  • 1st runner-up: Toyota Solara

Compact Premium Sporty Car

  • Highest-ranked model: Honda S2000
  • 1st runner-up: BMW Z4
  • 2nd runner-up: Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class

Premium Sporty Car

  • Highest-ranked model: Lexus SC 430
  • 1st runner-up: Ford Thunderbird **
  • 2nd runner-up: Chevrolet Corvette

Van

  • Highest-ranked model: Oldsmobile Silhouette **
  • 1st runner-up: Mercury Monterey *
  • 2nd runner-up: Honda Odyssey

Compact Multi-Activity Vehicle (MAV)

  • Highest-ranked model: Toyota RAV4
  • 1st runner-up: Honda CR-V
  • 2nd runner-up: Honda Element

Midsize MAV

  • Highest-ranked model: Oldsmobile Bravada **
  • 1st runner-up: Buick Rainier
  • 2nd runner-up: Toyota 4Runner

Large MAV

  • Highest-ranked model: Toyota Sequoia
  • 1st runner-up: GMC Yukon
  • 2nd runner-up: Chevrolet Suburban

Midsize Premium MAV

  • Highest-ranked model: Lexus GX 470
  • 1st runner-up: Lexus RX 300
  • 2nd runner-up: Infiniti FX 35 & FX45

Large Premium MAV

  • Highest-ranked model: Lexus LX 470
  • 1st runner-up: Toyota Land Cruiser *
  • 2nd runner-up: Cadillac Escalade EXT

Midsize Pickup

  • Highest-ranked model: Toyota Tacoma
  • 1st runner-up: Ford Ranger
  • 2nd runner-up: Mazda B-Series

Large Pickup

  • Highest-ranked model: Chevrolet Silverado LD
  • 1st runner-up: Ford F-150 Heritage / F-150 Lightning
  • 2nd runner-up: Ford F-150 LD

** Model line discontinued

* Model not sold in Canada

Source: J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Vehicle Dependability Study

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