In the world of automotive marketing there are few ratings that are touted more highly than the reports of big name auto industry reporting sources. When they publish their annual reliability report people take notice!
The marketing of a highly reliable vehicle can help make or break sales for certain brands. For example, as you might expect, Toyota sales plummeted at first when the high numbers of recalls came out in recent years. They of course rebounded by storming the airwaves with an intensified ad campaign telling us important things about Toyota such as how they were “spending a million dollars an hour to improve safety.” What was funny to me about this was how fast they reversed the negative impact on their branding. They must have the best and brightest marketing team ever assembled, with some very clever marketing minds.
There are really only a few sources which generate the most thorough reliability reports for the automotive industry and consumer. First you have the “JD Power and Associates” annual report, and then you have the data that comes from “Consumer Reports”, next there are a few smaller names on the Internet who aggregate the available data from their own wide array of sources.
The “JD Power and Associates report” is technically based on their “Vehicle Dependability Study” which tracks owner reported problems with their vehicles for the first three years of ownership. In the JD Power and Associates report we learn that they rate the top five car brands not necessarily specific models. The car brands are measured against four main categories:
A) Overall Dependability
B) Power Train Dependability
C) Body and Interior Dependability
D) Feature and Accessory Dependability
These categories are then given a score of zero through five with five being “Among the Best” four “Better than Most” three “About Average” and two being “The Rest” For the record none of the 36 car brands in the JD Power review were given any mark less than two.
1) Lincoln scored the highest across the four categories which are used for creating their comparisons. Of the 20 possible points across the four categories the Lincoln brand received a 20. This means their report found no reliability problems in any areas of the Lincoln line of vehicles.
2) Porsche and Buick both scored second highest with 19 of possible 20.
3) Lexus claimed third place with a rating of 18 of 20.
4) Mercury, Honda, and Toyota each had 17 points out of possible 20.
5) Acura came in at 15 of 20 possible points.
Depending how you see it this list could end here since there are five brands represented within the first four slots. however I prefer to show the actual top five spots. Inconsequential but statistically interesting none were given a rating of exactly 16.
According to James Bleeker at “Auto on info” a small web based automotive quality guide, there are a handful of cars that stand the test of time when it comes to long term reliability. His data has been aggregated over a much longer period than most other reliability trending sources.
Using a simple grade point average system he has boiled this data down to a set of six tables which show the best and worst rated vehicles in terms of reliability. His data shows owner reported reliability information covering at least six years of data for the top five cars on his list.
1) Scion GPA = 3.57
2) Toyota GPA = 3.54
3) Honda GPA = 3.39
4) Acura GPA = 3.36
5) Lexus GPA = 3.32
You can visit this site and view the data yourself at: www.autooninfo.net/Reliability.aspx
In my own personal survey of friends and family I found that most people with any age Honda are happy with the reliability. Some friends remain staunch supporters of their Saturn’s, and Mitsubishi owners rave about their high reliability. Having owned many Subaru’s I know they are very reliable if you treat them well, however like any car if abused they do not last as well. There are a few people I know driving the Toyota RAV4 and they are extremely happy and loyal to that model. So my informal list arrived at a somewhat different set of five vehicles.
Consumer Reports has grown to become one of the most comprehensive resources for consumers to learn about products before and after their purchases. The “ConsumerReports” web site, which is free to visit, is full of great information. However if you are a registered member they offer even more insight into consumer reporting issues.
In comparison the Consumer Reports information utilizes a bit different scheme which rates cars based on owners feedback requiring at least 100 consumer reports per vehicle submitted before it can be used on their list. They take into account all the car models for that same year across a particular brand, and then arrive at a “mean value” representing the standing of that manufacturer in relation to “average” cars in the survey. The Consumer Reports press release does not give specifics in terms of detailed ratings, but if you are a subscriber they will show you all the data in a simple to read format. Their annual fee is $26 and there is a 30 day free trial period if you want to see what they have to offer right now.
In summary it is obvious that these various reports are all somewhat different based on how the data was collected. This fact should be taken into account when considering it’s impact on a buying decision. The question you should ask is how unbiased can a company be when their revenue stream comes from the same people they are reporting on?
Thank you for reading my articles here on Associated Content – Yahoo!