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Toyota garnered five segment awards-more than any other nameplate in 2009-for the Highlander, Prius, Sequoia, Solara and Tundra. Lexus followed with four segment awards for the ES 330 (in a tie with the Acura RL), GX 470, LS 430 and SC 430. Lincoln captures two awards for the Mark LT and Zephyr. Models by Acura, Buick, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Mercury, Nissan and Scion each ranked highest in one segment.
“Buick has ranked among the top 10 nameplates each year since the study was last redesigned in 2003, while Jaguar has moved rapidly up the rankings,” says David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. “Lexus remains a very strong competitor in long-term quality. In particular, the Lexus LS 430 sets the industry standard for dependability, with fewer problems reported than any other model in the study.”
The study, which measures problems experienced by original owners of three-year-old vehicles, has been redesigned to include 202 different problem symptoms across all areas of the vehicle. Overall dependability is determined by the level of problems experienced per 100 vehicles, with a lower score reflecting higher quality.
“In the current economic climate, consumers are delaying new-vehicle purchases and keeping their vehicles longer-the average age of a vehicle at trade-in has increased to 73 months in 2009 from 65 months in 2006,” says Sargent. “This makes vehicle dependability even more critical. Automakers have improved long-term dependability by an average of 10% each year since the inception of the study, which is a testament to the industry’s commitment to continuously improve and sustain quality, especially long-term quality. Making improvements in long-term quality not only satisfies customers who are holding onto their vehicles longer, but it will also influence their decisions when they return to the new-vehicle market or are seeking to purchase a pre-owned vehicle.”
The study finds that the frequency and severity of component replacement has a particularly strong impact on customer loyalty intentions. Component areas for which the impact is greatest include engine and transmission. When engine components are replaced or rebuilt, just 11% of customers state that they definitely intend to purchase or lease another vehicle of the same make, compared with nearly 40% among owners who report replacing no components.
The study also finds that Buick, Lincoln, Mercury and Jaguar owners are less likely to replace components than owners of other vehicle brands. While component replacement rates are similar for premium and non-premium makes, there are notable differences between vehicle segments. Owners of models in the premium sporty vehicle segment are least likely to replace components, while owners of models in the van segment are most likely to replace components.
The study was based on responses from more than 46,000 original owners of 2006 model-year vehicles. The study was fielded in October 2008.