The 2017 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Survey is here, revealing just how dependable or undependable car manufacturers have been. Here’s the complete list, from worst to best.
The 2017 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Survey is a useful tool for seeing just how dependable a car manufacturer’s cars are, as opposed to relying on trusty motoring stereotypes. Of which there are many.
The reason why the survey is particularly useful stems from the fact it collates the experiences of more than 12,000 car owners over a period of 12 to 36 months.
The data for the 2017 study is based on new vehicles registered between February 2014 and April 2016 and took place from February to April, 2017.
By looking at the feedback of owners, JD Power is able to come up with a score, which it calls a VDS ranking. VDS is short for vehicle dependability study and is based on problems per 100 vehicles. The lower the number, the better.
The categories open to criticism are numerous. In fact, the study looks at 177 problem symptoms across the following eight categories:
- Vehicle exterior
- Driving experience
- Features/controls/displays (FCD)
- Audio/communication/entertainment/navigation (ACEN)
- Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)
- Vehicle interior
- Engine and transmission
There is a US version of the study, but it is the UK one we are concerning ourselves with here. So without further these the best and worst manufacturers when it comes to dependability, ranked from worst to best.
You pay a premium price for BMWs, but sadly that means anything but premium dependability. In the 2016 JD Power survey, BMW was 21st. Now it sits at 25th, with an average of 198 problems per vehicle.
Another German manufacturer supposedly known for reliability, yet it is 24th where the BMW rival sits in the latest survey results. It scored 187 problems per 100 vehicles, which is worse than its 2016 score.
22nd) Land Rover
Yet more proof luxury cars rarely go hand in hand with reliability. The British off-road vehicle maker, which is owned by Indian company Tata Motors, scored 175 problems per vehicle. But this is an improvement on the 197 problems per vehicle in 2016.
Though Fiat has come on leaps and bounds with the quality of products in the range, it seems the Italian curse of bad electronics still has some way to go before it is shaken off. Its vehicles scored an average of 165 problems per 100 vehicles in the 2017 survey.
Cars such as the Sandero and Duster prove popular for those on a budget as both are some of the cheapest vehicles of their respective types. But that appears to come at a price as Renault-owned Dacia scored 151 problems per 100 vehicles. Better than last year, though.
It is easy to stereotype French vehicles for poor reliability, although that is less of the case for nowadays. Unfortunately for Citroen, it came in rather low on the list unlike Peugeot and Renault, scoring an unimpressive 148 problems per 100 vehicles ─ much worse than 115 in 2016.
Busting yet another myth about reliability is Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi, which came in 19th place with a score of 139 problems per vehicle. Mitsubishi is responsible for the Outlander PHEV, Britain’s best-selling (and one of the most affordable) hybrid cars.
Renault fared better than Citroen, but its score of 138 problems per vehicles is doing little to allay concerns over French reliability. Newer Renaults have improved leaps and bounds in most areas and the sportier ones really do drive well, but the score of 116 in 2016 indicates that comes at a cost.
Honda just above Renault? Afraid so, thanks to a score of 136 problems per vehicle ─ the same score as the following manufacturer and below the industry average of 131 problems per vehicle.
Fix or repair daily. First on rubbish dump. The Ford acronym jokes are nearly as numerous as the sales of its vehicles, but its score of 136 problems per vehicle is a little below average. Popular offerings include the Fiesta, Focus and C-Max.
Mercedes-Benz are highly sought-after, but it seems they could do better in terms of reliability. Still, a score of 129 problems per vehicle is up from 154 in 2016 and it managed to outdo its premium German rivals by some margin.
Even though Jaguar and Land Rover are obviously part of Jaguar Land Rover as a whole, Jaguar did noticeably better in 2017 than its off-roading sibling. Its problem per vehicle score of 127 makes it better than average and ahead of most of its premium rivals.
Brits are a succour for the German interpretation of the classic British Mini, which makes sense as they drive well and the interior’s have a flair missing from most of its competitors. Not only did Mini perform above average, it improved from 140 to 124 problems per vehicle between 2016 and 2017.
Dieselgate issue has done VW no favours, but owners are still mainly happy with their cars, as the score of 121 problems per vehicle suggests. But it was 6th place in the 2016 study, suggesting something has gone a bit wrong somewhere.
Nissan has never been known for unreliability and that is still the case, thanks to an above average score of 118 problems per 100 cars. This is hardly surprising given the sheer popularity of the Qashqai, Juke and Micra, which combine good looks with practicality and frugal motoring.
Forget the days of rotary engine woes, Mazda ranks very well in the JD Power Survey. Scoring 117 problems per 100 vehicle, it has all but two Japanese manufacturers bettered and an improved range of nicer-looking and nicer-driving cars is why.
Seat cars are known for being good value and it seems they go down a treat among Brits. A score of 117 problems per 100 vehicles ranks it higher than VW, which is the parent company.
Peugeot had a bad spot but recent vehicles have shown huge improvements in most areas, with the 208 and 308 as proof and the rewards of the brilliant 3008 yet to be felt in the survey. It scored 110 problems per 100 cars, which is better than in 2016 and makes it the only Frenchie in the top 10.
Some Vauxhalls have been labelled boring in the past, but the newest generation offers improved styling, handling and technology. No wonder, then, it has stayed strong over a number of years and remains better than the Germans, scoring a solid 108 problems per 100 vehicles.
Toyota is actually the penultimate Japanese manufacturer in the top 10, but let that do anything but diminish a solid score of 105 problems per 100 vehicles. Not only is that well above average, it is a noticeable improvement on its 9th-place ranking in 2016.
Hyundai is a relative newcomer to the UK yet it is quickly becoming one of the most popular, thanks to a solid range of cars, great value for money and a generous manufacturer warranty on all vehicles. It scored 97 problems per 100 vehicles.
Although second place in the 2016 JD Power survey, Suzuki only narrowly lost out by a few points. Its score of 92 problems per vehicle is actually half that of Audi, which is quite impressive when you consider the flak the Japanese manufacturer receives.
Yet another manufacturer that has outdone its parent company. VW-owned Skoda continues to defy its once laughably bad image and reliability problems, although it did drop from 1st to 2nd place and the rise of 89 problems per 100 vehicles, up from 66 in 2016, is cause for concern.
1st) Kia / Volvo
Bust out the bubbly, we have arrived at the joint-first manufacturers. Volvo was 17th in 2016, now it sits atop the list with a score of 83 problems per vehicle. Impressive when you consider it is a premium manufacturer, but then cars such as the V90, S90 and XC90 largely deserve the credit.
Kia, meanwhile, is also on the up although a jump from 3rd to 1st is less impressive than Volvo. Still, the South Korean manufacturer has made everyone else look a bit rubbish. Drastic improvements to the range have helped the cause, but it is also hard to ignore that class-leading seven-year warranty.
2017 JD Power Vehicle survey: Other things to note?
The results showed other interesting findings. For instance, it found that exterior styling was a key reason for buying a car for 31 per cent of owners.
Fuel efficiency was the number one reason for 50 per cent of owners, yet it is a category that sees fairly low satisfaction levels. Technology is another bugbear for owners, with connectivity issues and voice recognition failing to work consistently.
On the subject of sticking with one brand, JD Power head of research Mark Lendrich said: “Minor issues like foggy windows, noisy brakes or navigation systems that are difficult to use can be very frustrating for owners and can negatively affect brand loyalty.
“These design problems aren’t easy to fix at a service appointment and, if the owner has to live with these problems for the duration of time they have the vehicle, they’re less likely to purchase the same brand in the future.”