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Luxury cars dominate dependability study

Lexus ranks highest in long-term dependability for the sixth consecutive year, with less than one-half the number of vehicle problems than the average manufacturer, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2000 Vehicle Dependability Study.

Following Lexus in the ranking was sports car manufacturer Porsche, with Infiniti, Toyota and Acura rounding out the top five.

Only three nonluxury auto makers made the top 10 of the recently released study: Toyota, Honda and Buick.

"The impact of vehicle quality on customer satisfaction increases over time," said Brian Walters, director of product research at J.D. Power and Associates, a marketing information service based in Agoura Hills.

"Manufacturers that understand the importance of long-term durability and produce vehicles that experience fewer problems in the later years of ownership are rewarded with higher customer retention. Fewer vehicle problems also translate into greater satisfaction with dealer service, better brand reputation and a greater likelihood of making recommendations to friends and family."

The study also concluded that manufacturer-certified used vehicles have fewer problems than noncertified used vehicles. Fewer problems typically translates into higher customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

"The differences between certified and non-certified vehicles are especially apparent among nonluxury makes," Walters said. "Among buyers of certified non-luxury vehicles, 25 percent rated their vehicle outstanding, compared with 16 percent of non-certified buyers. Buyers of certified nonluxury vehicles also have higher intentions to recommend their dealership and purchase the same make again."

The study, previously named the Vehicle Dependability Index, was redesigned for 2000 using an all-new matrix expanded to 137 problems.

This new matrix allows consumers the opportunity to describe fully any issues they may have experienced and provide manufacturers with a better understanding of how the long-term performance of their vehicles affects owners.

Conducted annually, the study is considered the industry standard measurement of overall long-term dependability. The study monitors the number and type of problems consumers have with their four- to five-year-old vehicles and covers 137 specific problem areas in nine categories.

The 2000 study includes responses from 28,415 original owners and owners who purchased used 1996 model-year vehicles.

- Business Wire

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