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Domestic car brands underrated: J.D. Power

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A new study gives high marks to more than two dozen vehicle brands for improving their quality in 2010 -- including second-ranked Lincoln and third-ranked Buick -- but said that many of these names suffer from lousy consumer perceptions.

"Producing vehicles with world-class quality is just part of the battle for automakers," said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates, in a press release. "Convincing consumers to believe in their quality is equally as important."

He said that it takes "considerable time to positively change consumer perceptions of quality and reliability."

The study said Toyota -- which has come under fire in recent months for problems with sudden acceleration, inspiring a massive recall -- "continues to perform well in long-term dependability" and won more segment awards than any other model in 2010.

Toyota owners reported relatively few problems, the study said, with 128 problems per 100 vehicles, compared to the industry average of 155. The results are based on responses from more than 52,000 owners of 2007 model year vehicles during the time between October and December of 2009.

All three of Ford's car brands rated above average in the survey while two of GM's surviving brands -- Buick and Cadillac -- also did.

GM's other two survivors, Chevrolet and GMC, rated below average as did all three Chrysler Group brands, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep.

Porsche led the vehicle dependability study, averaging 110 problems per 100 vehicles, according to J.D. Power, a California-based marketing information company that conducted the annual study.

Land Rover placed last among the 36 vehicles studied in this report, with 255 problems per 100 vehicles. Japanese carmaker Suzuki rated only slightly better with 253 problems per 100 vehicles.

Ford's Lincoln luxury brand ranked second in the survey, barely edging out General Motors' Buick brand. Ford's Mercury brand ranked fifth, just behind Toyota's Lexus luxury brand.

The study said vehicles that are reliable but "avoided at relatively high rates due to customer concerns about reliability" are Cadillac, Ford, Hyundai, Lincoln and Mercury.

Sargent said automakers can improve customer perceptions by providing extended warranties, including features that give the car a "rich" feel, and improving the quality of new models over their predecessors. To top of page

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