June 29, 2005

Toyota’s Lexus leads vehicle quality survey

DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp.'s luxury Lexus brandwon top honors for the 11th consecutive year in an annuallong-term vehicle quality survey released on Wednesday.

The closely watched J.D. Power and Associates survey oflong-term vehicle dependability is based on responses from50,635 owners of 3-year-old vehicles when questioned aboutscores of specific problems ranging from wind or brake noise touneven tire wear and stalling engines.

The survey is key to the auto industry because new carbuyers say long-term quality is one of the most importantfactors in their choice of brands, according to J.D. Power. Itis also important to automakers because of warranty costs.

Lexus had 139 problems per 100 vehicles, a 14 percentimprovement from last year. It also has the top individualmodel, the LS 430, which had 90 problems per 100 vehicles.

General Motor Corp.'s Buick nameplate led mainstreambrands, with 163 problems per 100 vehicles, followed by theToyota nameplate with 194 problems.

All the flagship brands of Detroit's traditional Big Threeautomakers -- GM's Chevrolet, Ford and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler -- were ranked above the industry average of 237problems per 100 vehicles.

GM also had eight individual vehicles top their respectivesegments in long-term quality.

GM's Chevrolet Prizm, Chevrolet Malibu, Buick Century andBuick LeSabre sedans, Chevrolet S-10, Chevrolet Silverado andCadillac Escalade EXT pickups and GMC Yukon sport utilityvehicle all topped their class.

Hyundai Motor Co.'s Hyundai nameplate saw the largestreduction in problems reported by owners, improving 31 percentfrom last year with 260 problems per 100 vehicles. The brand,however, still hovered below the industry average.

Hyundai's sister nameplate Kia was ranked as the leastreliable brand with 397 problems per 100 vehicles, according tothe survey.

High-profile European luxury nameplates such asDaimlerChrysler's Mercedes, Ford's Volvo, Jaguar and LandRover, GM's Saab and Volkswagen AG's Audi all scored well belowthe industry average.