The good news is that the vehicles evaluated in the 32nd annual J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) were the most dependable, on average, of any class of cars yet.
The VDS scores cars by the average number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles. A score of 100 problems per 100 cars means that each owner probably experienced one problem with their car over the first three years of ownership. This year’s class averaged 121 problems per 100 vehicles, marking a 10 percent reduction in problems compared to last year.
That reduction of 13 problems from the 134 problems reported last year marked a big jump, following years that saw an improvement of just two problems per 100 (2020) and six PP100 (2019).
“The study results validate what we have known for some time,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. “Automakers are making increasingly dependable vehicles—but there are still some problem areas that need to be addressed and some warning signs on the horizon.”
Those looming problems relate to the increasing proliferation of technology in new cars, whose infotainment systems are increasingly challenging to use, and whose hundreds of millions of lines of software code possess myriad opportunities for bugs.
“Today’s three-year-old vehicles are of higher quality and more dependable than in previous years,” Sargent continued. “Most owners aren’t experiencing their vehicles breaking down or falling apart but, for many, vehicle technology continues to function poorly or inconsistently. If an owner can’t rely on a system to work as they expect, it is also considered a lack of dependability. It affects their overall view of the vehicle and their likelihood of staying loyal to their automaker. In the future, dependability will partially be determined by the ability to solve problems through vehicle updates and the avoidance of technology obsolescence.”
Fiat is absent from the ratings because there were not enough vehicles surveyed to meet J.D. Power's minimum requirements.