Raising Reliability: J.D. Power report says vehicle dependability has improved

Toronto, Ontario — According to J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), overall vehicle dependability has improved 1.5 percent from 2019.

The study, which is in its 31st year, measures the number of problems per 100 vehicles experienced in the past 12 months by original owners of three-year-old vehicles. The 2020 student measures problems in model year 2017 vehicles, with a lower score reflecting higher quality. The study covers 177 specific problems that have been grouped into eight major vehicle categories.

Key findings of the study dictate vehicle dependability is improving, though at a slow rate; crossovers and SUVs have become more dependable and that in-vehicle technology has shown significant strides toward improvement.

For overall vehicle dependability, the 2020 industry average came in at 134 problems per 100 vehicles⁠—an improvement of two problems per 100 vehicles when compared to 2019’s results. 

In 2019, there was an improvement of six problems per 100 vehicles as compared to 2018, though, despite the slowing rate of improvement, 2020 marks automakers’ best performance in the history of the study.

Crossovers and SUVs may still have more problems than cars, but, according to J.D. Power, the gap is narrowing. On average, crossover and SUV owners see 134 problems per 100 vehicles, compared with 127 problems for car owners.

While audio, communication, entertainment and navigation features saw the most improvement in terms of problems per 100 vehicles, the category still accounts for more problems than any other category covered in the study. Owners cited the most problems with voice recognition, Bluetooth connectivity and navigation systems.

According to the study, the most dependable car model is the Lexus ES, which reported 52 problems per 100 vehicles⁠—the best score ever recorded in the history of the J.D. Power study.

For the full report, click here.

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