Lexus, Detroit brands top J.D. Power survey
In latest dependability survey results, U.S. brands join Japanese at the top.

NEW YORK ( -- Perennial winner Lexus took the top spot again this year in the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability study, but U.S. brands Mercury, Buick and Cadillac filled out the top four.

The J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, which was released today, scores cars based on the number of problems owners have with vehicles that are three years old. Its rankings are based on survey responses from about 48,000 owners of 2003 model-year vehicles. Cars are scored based on the number of problems per 100 vehicles.

Lexus is the luxury brand of Japan's Toyota Motor Co. That company's mainstream Toyota brand ranked fifth in the survey.

Chrysler, the U.S. arm of German-based DaimlerChrysler, did not share in the success of the other U.S. brands. None of its brands - Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge - scored above average in the study.

A Chrysler spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Porsche also had a poor showing this year. The carmaker, which finished second in last year's survey, dropped to 22nd in the rankings in this year's survey.

The substantial drop-off in Porsche's performance, from 149 problems per 100 2002 model year cars last year, to 248 problems per 100 2003 model year cars this year, was due mostly to problems with the company's 911 and Boxster sports cars, said Neal Oddes, director of product research and analysis for J.D. Power and Associates.

Nevertheless, Porsche recently topped a J.D. Power Initial Quality study which measures problems in brand-new vehicles.

A spokesman for Porsche could not be immediately reached for comment on today's results.

The top of the rankings in this year's dependability study are dominated by Japanese and American brands. Jaguar, which ranked eighth, and BMW, which ranked ninth, were the only European brands to score above average in the study.

"The industry continues to make improvements in long-term vehicle quality, and not just among luxury makes that benefit from smaller production volumes on the assembly line," said Oddes. "Many high-volume, mass-marketed brands have acquired a foundation of quality products from which to challenge the normally strong performances of the luxury brands."

Among individual cars, the Honda Civic ranked as the most dependable compact car, while the Buick Century ranked as the most dependable midsize car.

The lowest-ranking brand in this year's survey was Land Rover, which had 438 problems per 100 vehicles, compared to just 136 for Lexus and 151 for Mercury. Saab was second worst with a score of 326.

J.D. Power 2006 Vehicle Dependability Study

Top ranking brands:

1. Lexus (Toyota), Score: 136

2. Mercury (Ford), Score: 151

3. Buick (GM), Score: 153

4. Cadillac (GM), Score: 163

5. Toyota, Score: 179

6. Acura (Honda), Score: 184

7. Honda, Score: 194

8. Jaguar (Ford), Score: 210

9. BMW, Score: 212

10. Infiniti (Nissan), Score: 215

11. Lincoln (Ford), Score: 220

12. Ford, Score: 224

13. Oldsmobile (GM), Score: 224

Average score: 227

To see this list sorted by vehicle category, click here.

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