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Lexus tops vehicle dependability study

From the Associated Press

Lexus once again stands alone atop a closely watched ranking of vehicle dependability after Buick slipped from the No. 1 spot it shared with the Japanese luxury brand last year, J.D. Power & Associates said Thursday.

It’s the 14th straight year Toyota Motor Corp.'s high-end brand has held the top position in the annual study, which measures problems experienced by the original owners of vehicles after three years. Lexus had 120 problems per 100 vehicles, down from 145 last year.

Ford Motor Co.'s Mercury brand ranked second, followed by General Motors Corp.'s Cadillac. Toyota was fourth and Honda Motor Co.'s Acura luxury brand was fifth. Land Rover, which Ford sold this year to India’s Tata Motors, was the worst-performing brand, with 344 problems.

The industry average improved to 206 problems per 100 vehicles, from 216 a year ago.

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Buick, owned by GM, fell to sixth place in this year’s study with 163 problems, although its now-discontinued Buick Century was the top-ranked vehicle in the mid-size car segment.

“The lower score is largely due to vehicles that are no longer in the marketplace,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive research at Westlake Village-based J.D. Power. “The vehicles are still out there, so the study is still relevant. But obviously they had some problems.”

Debbie Frakes, a spokeswoman for Buick, said J.D. Power’s study was only one of several that the company focused on. “Obviously we’re disappointed not to have been at the top, but as a brand we consistently rank high in many, many quality studies,” she said.

GM’s Saab brand was the most improved in this year’s study, improving to 254 problems from 319. More than 60% of the 38 brands in the study improved from last year.

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The No. 1 problem cited in the study, based on responses from more than 52,000 original owners of 2005 model-year vehicles, was wind noise, followed by noisy brakes, pulling to the left or right, dashboard issues and window fogging. The study weights all problems equally.


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