Westlake Village, California – Lincoln has rated tops in overall vehicle dependability in the latest report from J.D. Power and Associates, the first time it has led all other automakers since the study’s inception. The U.S. Dependability Study measures problems experienced in the past 12 months by owners of three-year-old vehicles, in this case, the 2008 model year.

The study includes 202 different problem symptoms across all areas of the vehicle. Overall dependability is measured by the level of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP1oo), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

Lincoln improved by 13 PP100 from the 2010 study. Following Lincoln, in order, are Lexus, Jaguar, Porsche and Toyota. Among individual models, the Porsche 911 had the fewest problems in the industry, with a score of just 68 PP100. Toyota took seven segment awards, the most of any automaker, for its Lexus RX, Scion xB, and Toyota 4Runner, Prius, Sienna, Tacoma and Tundra.

Four received four model awards for the Ford Fusion and Mustang, and Lincoln MKZ and Navigator. Winning three awards each were General Motors for the Buick Lucerne, Cadillac DTS and Chevrolet Tahoe, and Honda for the Acura RL, and Honda CR-V and Fit. Other model award winners were the BMW X3, Mazda MX-5 and Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class.

J.D. Power and Associates said that overall vehicle dependability has improved from 2010, with automakers succeeding in reducing problem rates in many traditional areas, but are experiencing some challenges in overcoming problems with newer technologies and features. In 2011, overall dependability averaged 151 PP100, the lowest problem rate since the study’s inception in 1990, and an improvement from 170 PP100 in 2009.

Increased rates of problems are primarily in electronic features, including audio, entertainment and navigation systems, and new safety features such as tire pressure monitoring systems.

“Automakers, have a whole, have made significant improvements in reducing traditional problems, particularly with vehicle interiors, engines and transmissions, and steering and braking during the past several years,” said David Sargent, vice-president of global vehicle research. “However, as manufacturers add new features and technologies to satisfy customer demand and new legislation, they face the potential for introducing new problems.”

The study found that while domestic brands have closed the gap in initial quality with import brands, there is still a considerable difference between the two in vehicle dependability, with import brands outperforming domestic brands by 18 PP100 in 2011. This is consistent with findings of the 2008 Initial Quality Study, which examined the models included in the current study after they had been with owners for 90 days. While domestic-brand cars have fewer problems than import-brand cars on average – 135 PP100 for domestic versus 147 for imports – trucks and crossover vehicles from import brands have considerably fewer problems than those of domestic brands.

The 2011 study is based on responses of more than 43,700 owners of 2008 vehicles after three years of ownership.

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