Westlake Village, California – Toyota has taken eight awards, while Mini and Scion showed the most improvement in the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study.

The study looked at three-year-old vehicles (2009 model year) and measured the problems their original owners experienced with them during the past 12 months. Overall dependability is determined by the level of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

In the 2012 study, overall dependability averages 132 PP100, an improvement of 13 per cent from vehicles in 2011 that averaged 151 PP100, and the lowest problem rate since the study originated in 1990. When the vehicles were new, they also achieved the highest rating of initial quality in the 2009 Initial Quality Study since that survey’s first appearance in 1987.

Of the 32 brands surveyed, 25 have improved in dependability from 2011, while only six have declined and one has remained stable. Domestic nameplates have improved in 2012 at a slightly faster rate than imports, narrowing the dependability gap to 13 PP100 from 18 PP100 in 2011.

“Despite facing immense challenges in 2009, automakers placed a keen focus on delivering outstanding levels of quality, which they understood would be essential to their long-term success,” said David Sargent, vice-president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. “Three years later, owners of these models are enjoying unprecedented levels of vehicle dependability and manufacturers are experiencing market recovery. This is good news both for owners, who are holding onto their vehicles for longer than ever, and manufacturers, since perception of quality and dependability is a critical factor in vehicle purchase decisions.”

Sargent said there are several brands that have performed very well in dependability during the past several years, but still have relatively high proportions of new-vehicle buyers expressing reliability concerns. These include models from Buick, Cadillac, Ford, Hyundai and Lincoln. “Negative quality perceptions are notoriously difficult to change, and it takes considerable time, but effectively communicating improvements in dependability may reduce concerns, and by extension, help new-vehicle sales,” Sargent said.

Lexus ranked highest in dependability among all nameplates in 2012, and the Lexus LS had the best score at 72 PP100. Rounding out the five highest-ranking nameplates, in order, were Porsche, Cadillac, Toyota and Scion. Compared with their 2011 scores, Mini improved by 60 PP100 and Scion by 55 PP100, the greatest year-over-year improvements.

Toyota took eight segment awards, more than any other automaker, for the Lexus ES350 (tied with the Lincoln MKZ), Lexus RX350, Scion tC, Scion xB, and Toyota Prius, Sienna, Tundra and Yaris.

Ford received three awards for the Ford Fusion, Explorer (tied with Nissan Murano) and Lincoln MKZ (in a tie). Receiving two awards each were General Motors, for the Buick Lucerne and Chevrolet Equinox, and Nissan for the Frontier and Murano (in a tie). The Hyundai Genesis also received an award.

Although there are no awards in their respective segments due to an insufficient number of eligible models in the segment, the Ford Mustang, GMC Yukon and Porsche 911 performed particularly well, the survey found.

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