Despite Toyota Motor's recall problems of recent years, owners still rank its cars among the most reliable in this year's J.D. Power and Associates vehicle dependability study of three year old cars, released today.
Toyota and its other brands, Lexus and Scion, all ranked in the top five among auto brands. Toyota nameplate models, including the Prius, won four segments among individual models, while Lexus and Scion each topped two categories.
The survey of 31,000 original owners of 2009 model cars, pickups and SUVs showed the highest overall dependability levels since the survey began in 1990. That dependability followed a high degree of initial quality as surveyed when 2009 models were new, Power researchers said.
Detroit-based domestic nameplates have again moved closer to, but not caught up with, the average dependability levels of imported brands. Cadillac, Lincoln, Ford and Buick were all in the top 10 brands in the ranking, with Chevrolet at 13th of 35 brands, just below the industry average. The Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler 2009 models from Chrysler group --before its rescue and takeover by Fiat -- ranked at the bottom of the list.
Consumer perceptions slow to change
Power researchers note, however, that the manufacturing quality improvements reflected in dependability ratings can take time to translate into consumer perceptions. "In the past four years, Buick, Cadillac, Ford, Hyundai and Lincoln have achieved consistently strong levels of dependability but still have relatively high proportions of new-vehicle buyers expressing reliability concerns," says David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power.
Here are some other findings from the Power survey:
--As it frequently has, Lexus topped all nameplates. Hyundai, which a strong sales year in 2011, finished 10th among brands. For full brand rankings, see the J.D. Power web site.
-- Ford Motor had three category winners for its Ford and Lincoln brands, while General Motors and Nissan had two each.
--With vehicle quality at an all time high as well as used-car prices, owners considering trading in or selling three year old vehicles are in a good position.
Here are details of the top three vehicles ranked in each of Power's categories, where three entries met the qualifications:
Highest ranked: Toyota Yaris
Highest ranked: Toyota Prius
Compact sporty car
Highest ranked: Scion tC
Highest ranked: Ford Fusion
Highest ranked: Buick Lucerne
Entry premium car
Highest ranked: Lexus ES 350 and Lincoln MKZ (tie)
Midsize premium car
Highest ranked: Hyundai Genesis
Compact multi-purpose vehicle
Highest ranked: Scion xB
Highest Ranked:Ford Explorer and Nissan Murano (tie)
Midsize premium crossover/SUV
Highest ranked: Lexus RX 350
Highest ranked: Nissan Frontier
Highest ranked: Toyota Sienna
Highest ranked: Toyota Tundra
GMC Sierra HD
Chevrolet Silverado LD