Kia takes the lead in latest vehicle dependability survey

Photo (c) Roman Stasiuk - Getty Images

J.D. Power’s annual survey looks at the performance records of three-year-old cars

Kia, Genesis, Hyundai, Buick, and Toyota are the top five automotive brands when it comes to vehicle dependability, according to the latest J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study.

To reach that conclusion, J.D. Power researchers analyzed vehicles from the 2019 model year to measure how they have held up over three years and how many issues their owners have reported. 

The study has been tweaked to include all of the features and technology that are available in late-model vehicles. The study covers 184 specific problem areas across nine major vehicle categories: climate, driving assistance, driving experience, exterior, features/controls, displays, infotainment, interior, powertrain, and seats.

David Amodeo, director of global automotive at J.D. Power, says dependability is even more important now because drivers are holding onto their vehicles longer than they used to because of a shortage of new and used cars

“Some automakers are performing much better than others at preventing problems from occurring, Amodeo said. “These problems include the vehicle’s mechanicals, exterior, and interior – but also infotainment systems, driver assistance systems, and all the other electronic systems in today’s vehicles.”

The study also measured owners’ satisfaction with their vehicle’s condition after three years of usage and whether they found their vehicle to be as appealing now as when they first bought it. Edward, of Bend, Ore.. told us he’s very satisfied with his Hyundai Vera Cruz.

“As far as I’m concerned this is an outstanding vehicle,” Edward wrote in a ConsumerAffairs review. “I read everything that everybody’s got to stay on it and as far as I’m concerned it’s an awesome vehicle. It’s got a lot of power too.”

Mass-market brands beat their luxury rivals

Interestingly, the 2022 study found fewer problems with so-called mass-market vehicles than with luxury brands. Premium brands usually use more technology in their vehicles, which increases the likelihood of problems occurring. The researchers say the build quality of mass-market vehicles has improved considerably and now matches that of the premium brands.

Kia ranked highest overall in vehicle dependability, with a score of 145 problems per 100 vehicles. Kia moved into first place this year after ranking third in the 2021 survey. Other mass-market brands ranking high for vehicle dependability include Buick, Hyundai, and Toyota.

Once again, infotainment systems produced the largest number of owner complaints, with more than twice as many complaints as the next-highest category. In fact, seven of the top 10 problem areas in the study were infotainment-related.

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