Lexus and Porsche tie in J.D. Power reliability study

Lexus and Porsche tied for the top spot in auto information company J.D. Power’s annual vehicle reliability study.

But other Japanese, German, South Korean and American brands also scored extremely well.

The study, online here, targeted 35,000 owners of model year 2014 vehicles who have driven their vehicles for three full years, asking them to rate satisfaction levels and vehicle problems in 177 specific areas.

Lexus and Porsche did best, with the lowest number of issues per owner, scoring 110 points each.

Right behind, with complaint numbers below 130, were Toyota and Buick. Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and BMW came just after.

Scoring the worst results, for the largest number of complaints, was Fiat, which landed last at 298 points. But also near or over 200 points were Jeep, Infiniti, Dodge, Ram, Ford and Mitsubishi.

Current consumers are buying more carefully, the study concluded, than in previous years. The industry average was 156. But the 10 top-selling brands, J.D. Power’s study said, had an average of 137 — showing customers are rewarding high-quality vehicles with their car-buying dollars.

“We find buyers are increasingly avoiding models with poor reputations for dependability,” said Dave Sargent, the J.D. Power vice president who oversaw the study.

Hyundai rose the most in the study, over comparable 2013 model year cars, rising from 19th position to 6th and scoring its best results ever. Also rising in dependability, despite their overall low scores, were Ford, Dodge and Land Rover.

The J.D. Power study also gives awards by segment. Nissan’s Versa was named best small car, while Toyota’s Prius was best compact car and Lexus’ ES was best compact premium car.

Toyota won best mid-size car for its Camry. Chevy’s Camaro was named best “sporty” car. Lexus also won best mid-size premium car for its GS, and the large car prize was given to Toyota’s Avalon.

On the truck side, the Honda Ridgeline was named best mid-size pickup, the Ford F-150 best light duty pickup, and the Chevy Silverado best heavy duty pickup.

Among sport utility vehicles, the VW Tiguan copped the small SUV award, while the Toyota FJ Cruise was picked as best compact SUV. The Toyota Venza was dubbed the best mid-size SUV, and the Lexus RX was named best mid-size premium SUV. Chevy got the award for large SUV with its Tahoe.

The Toyota Sienna was named best minivan. That brand won in 10 of 18 categories, the highest score any maker has ever received in the study. Toyota’s Camry, the study noted, has the lowest overall number of complaints of any vehicle tracked.

J.D. Power said that, despite the awards and low complaint numbers for the winners, overall vehicle quality appeared to be dropping. The industry average for last year’s study was 152 points, compared with 156 for this year’s.

Almost a quarter of the problems cited by owners were related to their automobiles’ audio, communication, navigation and entertainment systems, the study said.

charles.fleming@latimes.com

@misterfleming

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