For the 11th straight year, Lexus is tops in long-term quality in J.D. Power and Associates' Vehicle Dependability Study.
According to the 2005 study, owners of 2002-model Lexus vehicles surveyed earlier this year reported 139 problems per 100 vehicles. Power released the study on Wednesday.
Lexus showed a 14 percent improvement in dependability over 2004, Power said. Lexus vehicles ranked first in three of the 19 car and truck segments included in the study.
The Lexus LS 430 had 90 problems per 100 vehicles. It is the first model in the history of the 16-year-old study to have fewer than one problem per vehicle.
Porsche showed a dramatic increase in this year's study. It finished second in dependability, up from tenth last year. Porsche had 149 problems per 100 vehicles, a 38 percent year-over-year improvement.
"It's the largest percentage improvement in the industry," said Neal Oddes, Power's director of product research.
"Porsche didn't change much of their lineup" from the 2001 to 2002 model year, Oddes said. "They just improved on what they had."
Hyundai had the largest year-over-year reduction in the number of problems reported by owners. The brand had 260 problems per 100 vehicles, a reduction of 115 problems from last year's study. But Hyundai still finished below the industry average of 237 problems per 100 vehicles.
Chevrolet placed first in four model segments, more than any other brand. The study ranked Chevrolet's Prizm and Malibu cars and S-10 and Silverado HD pickups most dependable in their segments.
Among other General Motors vehicles, the Buick Century and LeSabre sedans, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL and Cadillac Escalade EXT SUVs finished on top of their model segments.
"This is the first time, when you look at GM, they've won this many segment awards," Oddes says.
Ford Motor Co. vehicles finished first in five segments. Toyota had four segment leaders.
Oddes noted that the Escalade EXT and the redesigned Ford Thunderbird, another segment winner, debuted in the 2002 model year. A first-year vehicle finishing first in dependability "is very rare at best," he says.
Overall, the Power study says, long-term vehicle quality increased 12 percent from 2004 to 2005. Audi and Saab were the only brands that did not show year-over-year improvements.
Audi had 312 problems per 100 vehicles in this year's study, a 6 percent increase from 2004. Saab had 286 problems per 100 vehicles, an 8 percent increase. Oddes called these annual changes in dependability "minor declines."
Kia, which had 397 problems per 100 vehicles, finished last in the 2005 study. Land Rover, last year's lowest performer, was second to last this year, with 395 problems.
The Power study is based on responses from 50,635 original owners of 2002 model vehicles. The survey of current problems was conducted between late January and late April this year. A vehicle warranty typically is reaching its end after three years, Power said.
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