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Chrysler bombs in JD Power 3-year report

by David Zatz on
A key study of medium-term reliability showed 2011-model-year Chrysler cars and trucks faring poorly. The study looks at the number of problems per hundred vehicles from three model years ago; it only looks at problems encountered in the most recent year.
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For the first time since 1998, the average number of problems per vehicle in the study, across all brands, has increased. The average number was 133 problems per 100 vehicles, 7 problems per 100 cars more than in last year’s study (covering 2010 models). Most of the increase in problems were from powertrain; this was especially true for four-cylinder engines. The company pointed to hesitation, rough shifting, and lack of power as typical problems — which are not necessarily due to manufacturing defects, raising questions about the data and how “problems” are defined.
Brand loyalty was, according to J.D. Power, 56% for owners with no problems, and 42% for owners with three or more problems.
Lexus, a usual top-runner, again ranked highest among all brands, for the third consecutive year; its 68 problems per 100 cars were far better than the #2 and #3 brands, Mercedes and Cadillac. Overall, the report was a triumph for General Motors as well, with Cadillac at #3, Buick at #5, Chevrolet at #13 (still well above average), and GMC one step above industry average. Ford’s Lincoln brand managed to slot in at #7, above Toyota and BMW, but the Ford brand itself was below average and every General Motors brand. GM also placed first in eight different segments, more than any other automaker (Toyota came in second with seven awards; Honda gained six). No Chryslers topped or hit the top three of their categories.
Chrysler’s best brand was the eponymous Chrysler brand, at #23, with 155 problems per hundred vehicles (155 PP100) — still better than Volkswagen, #24, with 158. Ram came in next, at #25 (165 PP100), followed by Mitsubishi, Hyundai, and Jeep (178 PP100). Land Rover took its usual spot near the bottom, but still managed to best Dodge with 181. Finally, though the Mini Cooper somehow took first-and-only place in its small category of Compact Sporty Car, Mini established the bottom of the pile, with 185 problems per hundred cars. (Fiat was not on the list since the 500 began with the 2012 model year).
Many expect Chrysler to move up with the 2012 model year, due to new powertrains and manufacturing equipment installed during that time, but the results from General Motors, which went through bankruptcy at the same time, were surprising.
The 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from more than 41,000 original owners of 2011 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership. The study was fielded between October and December 2013.  Full press release at J.D. Power. Every GM brand beat the industry average, along with Ford, Nissan, Audi, Volvo, Volkswagen, and Hyundai, while Cadillac was close to or better than every near-luxury automaker other than Lexus.

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