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Originally published Friday, August 8, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Lexus leads, Ford brands do well in J.D. Power reliability survey

Lexus ranked as the most dependable auto brand in the U.S. for a 14th straight year, while Mercury won back the No. 2 ranking in a study...

Bloomberg

How they hold up

LISTED for each brand is the number of problems per 100 vehicles from model year 2005 after three years on the road.

Lexus 120

Mercury 151

Cadillac 155

Toyota 159

Acura 160

Buick 163

BMW 164

Lincoln 165

Honda 177

Jaguar 178

Porsche 193

Mitsubishi 197

Hyundai 200

Ford 204

Infiniti 204

Industry average 206

Audi 207

Mercedes-Benz 215

Nissan 224

Pontiac 225

GMC 226

Mazda 228

Subaru 228

Chrysler 229

Dodge 230

Mini 233

Chevrolet 239

Hummer 241

Scion 243

Volvo 244

Saturn 250

Jeep 253

Volkswagen 253

Saab 254

Isuzu 274

Kia 278

Suzuki 302

Land Rover 344

Source: J.D. Power

Note: Maserati was in the study but the results were dropped due to a small sampling size.

Information

More detail: www.jdpower.com

Top three models per vehicle segment

HERE'S HOW the study ranks 2005 models for dependability over three years:

Subcompact cars:

1. Hyundai Accent

2. Scion xA

3. Chevrolet Aveo

Compact cars:

1. Toyota Prius (pictured)

2. Mitsubishi Lancer

3. Toyota Corolla

Compact sporty cars:

1. Mazda Miata

2. Toyota Celica

3. Subaru Outback Sport

Midsize sporty cars:

1. Chevrolet Monte Carlo

2. Toyota Solara

3. Mitsubishi Eclipse

Midsize cars:

1. Buick Century (pictured)

2. Mercury Sable

3. Toyota Camry

Large cars:

1. Ford Crown Victoria

2. Mercury Grand Marquis

3. Buick Park Avenue

Compact premium sporty cars:

1. Honda S2000 (pictured)

2. BMW Z4 (tie)

2. Porsche Boxster (tie)

Entry premium vehicles:

1. Lexus IS 300 (pictured)

2. BMW 3 Series

3. BMW X3

Midsize premium cars:

1. Lexus ES 300

2. Lexus GS 300/430

3. Acura RL

Large premium cars:

1. Lexus LS 430

2. Lincoln Town Car

3. Cadillac DeVille

Premium sporty cars:

1. Lexus SC 430

2. Ford Thunderbird

3. Porsche 911

Compact SUVs:

1. Honda Element

2. Toyota RAV4 (tie)

2. Honda CR-V (tie)

Midsize SUVs:

1. Toyota Highlander

2. Buick Rainier

3. Mercury Mountaineer

Large SUVs:

1. Toyota Sequoia

2. Chevrolet Suburban

3. Ford Excursion

Midsize premium SUVs:

1. Lexus GX 470

2. Lexus RX 330

3. Volvo XC70

Large premium SUVs:

1. Lexus LX 470

2. Cadillac Escalade EXT

3. Cadillac Escalade/ESV (pictured)

Midsize pickups:

1. Ford Ranger

2. Toyota Tacoma

3. Dodge Dakota

Large pickups:

1. Toyota Tundra

2. Ford F-150 LD3. Dodge Ram LD

Vans:

1. Mercury Monterey

2. Ford E-Series

3. GMC Savana

Source: J.D. Power

Lexus ranked as the most dependable auto brand in the U.S. for a 14th straight year, while Mercury won back the No. 2 ranking in a study that shows vehicles are becoming more reliable.

Lexus logged just 120 complaints for every 100 vehicles, down from 145 last year, according to the annual Vehicle Dependability Study from J.D. Power & Associates, which was released Thursday.

Mercury tallied 151 reported problems, 17 fewer than last year. The survey, which was released Thursday, tracks consumer complaints from 52,000 original owners of 3-year-old cars and trucks.

Three Ford Motor Co. brands — Mercury, Lincoln and Jaguar — were among the study's top 10, the most of any manufacturer. Lexus and Toyota models were ranked highest in 11 individual vehicle segments, ahead of all other companies.

Lexus has been the nation's top-selling luxury brand for eight straight years, underscoring Power's contention that companies that consistently deliver the most reliable vehicles are rewarded by consumers.

"Understanding and minimizing quality deterioration is critical for manufacturers, as it is a key driver of owner satisfaction and word-of-mouth recommendations," David Sargent, J.D. Power's vice president of automotive research, said in a statement.

The study by the Westlake Village, Calif.-based consumer research firm focused on 2005 models. It found the number of complaints per 100 vehicles fell to an average of 206, down from 216 in last year's study, 227 the year before, and 237 before that.

General Motors' Cadillac retained the No. 3 spot with 155 reported problems, 7 fewer than the year before.

The Toyota brand, excluding the Lexus division, was fourth, at 159, followed by Honda's premium Acura brand with 160.

GM's Buick, which tied with Lexus for the top ranking in 2007, tumbled to sixth. Its owners had 163 complaints per 100 cars, up from 145 last year.

Five of the top 10 complaints for 3-year-old vehicles matched those that owners listed in Power's 2005 Initial Quality Study — indicating that those five are persistent problems. They were:

• Excessive wind noise

• Noisy brakes.

• Vehicle pulling left or right.

• Instrument panel problems.

• Excessive window fogging.

"Additional focus on these issues prior to vehicle launch would benefit not only consumers, but also automakers through increased customer satisfaction," Sargent said.

BMW again was the study's seventh-highest brand, reducing complaints to 164 from 182 a year ago. It was followed by Lincoln at 165, also down from 182.

The Honda brand, No. 5 last year, dropped to ninth as complaints rose to 177 from 169. Jaguar rounded out the top 10 brands, cutting complaints to 178 from 197 a year ago.

Ford completed the sale of Jaguar to India's Tata Motors Ltd. in June.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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