The gap in long-term quality between luxury and nonluxury brands has been cut in half during the past four years, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS) released this week. The study, which measures problems experienced by original owners of three-year-old (2003 model-year) vehicles, finds that there is an ever-smaller gap in reported problems between luxury and higher-volume brands—averaging 15 PP100, down from 31 PP100 in 2003. Quality improvements with non-luxury brands are seen primarily in two categories—ride, handling, braking, and engine and transmission—which both have a strong impact on customer satisfaction. The presence of several non-luxury brands among the top-ranking brands in the industry further underscores the shrinking dependability gap between luxury and non-luxury brands. While Lexus is the top-ranking brand in vehicle dependability for a 12th consecutive year and luxury-make Cadillac ranks fourth, three of the top fiveranking brands in vehicle dependability are non-luxury makes. Mercury and Buick, respectively, follow Lexus in the brand rankings, and Toyota ranks fifth. Click here
to view the 2006 nameplate rankings.The 2006 Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from 47,620 original owners of 2003 model-year vehicles. For more information on vehicle ratings, visit the J.D. Power Consumer Center at www.jdpower.com.