Lexus vehicles continue to set the industry standard in vehicle durability, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2001 Vehicle Dependability Study(SM) (VDI) released Nov. 15. Lexus has ranked highest in the study since 1995, the first year it was eligible to be included. VDI examines the durability of vehicles after four to five years of ownership and is based on 137 potential problem areas. At 173 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), the average 1997 Lexus model has fewer than one-half the number of problems reported for the average 1997 model-year vehicle, which has 382 PP100. Infiniti ranks second with 219 PP100, followed by Jaguar (250 PP100), Lincoln (253 PP100) and Acura (255 PP100). Honda and Toyota tie at 278 PP100 to rank highest among non-luxury nameplates. "While many manufacturers focus on initial quality — or quality in the first one to two years of ownership — a real economic impact is felt by both owners and manufacturers in long-term durability, which is after four to five years of ownership," said Brian Walters, director of product research at J.D. Power and Associates. The study shows that problems occurring later in the ownership cycle have a greater adverse impact on vehicle owners than those occurring early on. These problems tend to be more frequent and more severe in nature — thus more costly to repair — than early in the ownership cycle, and often there is no warranty to cover the costs of repair. This hurts customer satisfaction both with the vehicle and the ownership experience. "After four to five years of ownership, many owners are returning to the market to purchase a replacement vehicle," said Walters. "Durability, in turn, influences consumers’ choice of vehicle. Owners who drive a dependable vehicle are more likely to repurchase that same make of vehicle than are owners of less durable vehicles. Also, consumers are generally willing to spend more on a vehicle that has a reputation for durability." Manufacturers also benefit significantly by building durable vehicles due to higher residual values, which affect marketing costs, along with lower assembly and warranty costs. "Durable vehicles often cost less to build because of simpler designs, which in turn require fewer labor hours to build," said Joe Ivers, partner and executive director of quality and customer satisfaction research at J.D. Power and Associates. "Lower failure rates can also translate to lower warranty costs. Moreover, marketing efforts by manufacturers for new models benefit from the durability of older models because of high resale values and customer retention. For these reasons, the lack of durability creates a large economic risk for the manufacturer." The Vehicle Dependability Study, now in its 12th year, is based on survey responses from more than 40,000 owners and lessees of 1997 model-year cars and trucks. About J.D. Power and Associates Headquartered in Agoura Hills, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services firm operating in business sectors including market research, forecasting, consulting, training and customer satisfaction. The firm’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on actual responses from millions of consumers annually. J.D. Power and Associates can be accessed through the Internet at