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Chrysler shows dramatic “dependability” improvement (updated)

by David Zatz on

J.D. Power has several car studies; perhaps the toughest and most important is the “dependability” study, named after a Dodge Brothers marketing term, which looks at how well cars fared after three years. That limits the importance of dealer/factory inspections, which is likely the key to good 90-day ratings.

2014 Chrysler Town & Country

Last year, based on the 2015 cars, Chrysler did not do well at all, with 2.1 problems per car; part of the problem may have been the new UConnect system, which did not seem to be as well tested as past UConnects. At the time, Chrysler had the 200, 300, and Town & Country.

This year, based on the 2016s, Chrysler had a 30% gain, with 1.46 problems per car, sitting slightly below the median at 16th place (out of 31). Chrysler shot up from the bottom of the rankings to the middle.  The Town & Country ranked as the best minivan.

Jeep rose by four spots, with a 10% improvement in dependability.

Dodge claimed the best midsize sporty car, with the Challenger.

The study was run from October to December 2018, yielding 32,952 responses from original owners of 2016 cars. So far, the full 2019 results haven’t been released to the public yet, so we’ll have to wait to see how Ram, Jeep, and Dodge (as a whole) did.  Buick was rated the most dependable brand in 2018.

Update: Buick slipped down a few places to #5, behind, in order, Lexus, Porsche, Toyota, and Chevrolet. Mini flew up the list to come in just after Buick.

Things were not so good for FCA. Chrysler matched and slightly beat Ford, Honda, and Lincoln; but Dodge and Ram came in fourth and fifth from the bottom. The only cars brands beaten by Ram and Dodge were Volvo, Land Rover, and FCA’s own Fiat.

Jeep did better, at #24 of 31, wedged between Cadillac and Jaguar. Oddly, while Chevrolet was #4, GMC was at #22.

The FCA results: Chrysler, 1.46 issues/car; Jeep, 1.67; Ram, 1.71; Dodge, 1.78; and Fiat, 2.49 (Alfa Romeo and Maserati did not make the list, presumably due to low 2016 sales). By comparison, among the most popular brands, Hyundai came in at 1.24, Subaru at 1.36, Nissan at 1.37, Ford and Honda at 1.46, and Toyota at 1.08. Fiat did not just make the bottom, but made it by a good margin, with 2.49 problems per car (well over the only other “doublers,” Land Rover, 2.21, and Volvo, 2.04).

The lighter side is that the difference between the best brand (Lexus) and the worst (Fiat) was just an average of around one and a half trips to the dealer over the span of three years. That means that the gap between, say, Chevrolet and Dodge — 1.15 vs 1.78 — isn’t really all that large.

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