November 23, 2002

Lexus tops J.D. Power and Associates Long-Term Vehicle Dependability Study

Westlake Village, California – Lexus ranks highest in long-term dependability for the eighth consecutive year, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2002 Vehicle Dependability Index Study released on Thursday. All of the top five ranking nameplates in the study are Japanese brands, with Infiniti, Acura, Honda and Toyota following Lexus, respectively.

The study finds that at 159 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), the average four- to five-year-old Lexus has fewer problems than the average 1998 model-year vehicle did when it was new (176 PP100). Lexus owners report the smallest increase in problems of any nameplate, as measured at 90 days of ownership to the four- to five-year mark.

“Lexus vehicles certainly benefit from their consistency in long-term dependability,” said Brian Walters, director of product research at J.D. Power and Associates. “VDI measures vehicle problems at a critical stage, when many owners are considering replacing their vehicles. The perception of strong long-term dependability can translate into both high resale value and strong owner loyalty to the nameplate. More than one-half of new-vehicle buyers indicate that long-term durability is an important consideration when choosing which make of vehicle to purchase.”

Among the 15 nameplates scoring above industry average in the 2002 VDI, eight are Japanese brands (Lexus, Infiniti, Acura, Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Nissan and Mazda); four are domestic (Buick, Cadillac, Lincoln and Mercury); and three are European (Porsche, Jaguar and BMW).

The industry has improved vehicle dependability by 27 PP100 in 2002 – a 7 percent increase over 2001. Interestingly, industry-level new-vehicle quality, as measured by the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study (IQS), has also shown an annual average improvement of just under 7 percent over the past four years.

“Six of the top 10 problems in VDI are also among the problem symptoms that have experienced the greatest deterioration between IQS and VDI, suggesting that many of the vehicle quality issues that arise early in the ownership period not only persist, but worsen with time and mileage,” said Walters. “For most problems measured in IQS and VDI, the opportunity for product improvement occurs in the design and engineering phases of future model replacements.”

The Vehicle Dependability Index Study, now in its 13th year, is based this year on survey responses from more than 30,000 original owners of 1998 model-year vehicles. The study monitors the number and type of problems owners have with their four- to five-year-old vehicles and covers 137 specific problem areas in nine categories.

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