Lexus luxury brand tops auto quality study for second-straight year

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DETROIT — Lexus makes the best-quality cars in the U.S., and automakers overall are much better at eliminating problems that land vehicles in the repair shop, according to a new survey of car owners.

Toyota’s luxury brand had the fewest problems per 100 vehicles in a survey of 2012 models by research firm J.D. Power and Associates. Lexus was followed by two other luxury carmakers, Jaguar and Porsche, which tied for second. Cadillac and Honda rounded out the top five.

They were followed by Acura and Infiniti, tied for sixth; Toyota; Mercedes-Benz; and, tying for 10th, BMW and Mazda.

Cars and trucks sold in the U.S. had the highest quality since J.D. Power started doing the study in 1987. Still, quality was hurt by widespread glitches in technology such as touch-screen controls and voice-recognition software, said David Sargent, Power’s automotive vice president.

Companies have learned quality manufacturing techniques from top competitors, and they’re using higher quality materials than in the past, he said. Quality has improved so much during the past decade that the difference between the best and worst brands is less than one problem per vehicle, according to the study.

“Everybody in the industry knows that if they don’t keep improving, they’re going to fall behind,” said Sargent.

In the nationwide survey, Power asked 74,000 people who bought or leased 2012 models about how reliable their vehicles were and whether they had problems with knobs, switches, electronics and other items in the first 90 days of ownership.

In the survey, the entire industry cut the number of problems per 100 vehicles by five to a score of 102.

Lexus owners reported only 73 problems per 100 vehicles. Italy’s Fiat tied for last in quality with Mercedes’ Smart brand. Both had 151 problems per 100 vehicles.


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