Revealed: the UK’s most dependable car brands of 2016

J.D. Power 2016Looking for trouble-free motoring? Avoid the premium brands and opt for a volume manufacturer – that’s the message from J.D. Power as it releases the results of its annual UK Vehicle Dependability Study.

J.D. Power measures problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of vehicles in the UK after 12-36 months of ownership (for 2016, that’s cars built between 2013-2015). If you’ve recently bought a Land Rover, you might want to look away now…

24: Land Rover: 197 problems per 100 vehicles

That’s because Land Rover finishes rock bottom in the J.D. Power 2016 UK Vehicle Dependability Study. Overall dependability is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles, with a lower score reflecting higher quality. All of which means Land Rover’s score of 197 problems per 100 vehicles puts the off-road brand far adrift of the other 23 carmakers in the study.

23: Dacia – 174 problems per 100 vehicles

Dacia: budget-driven, but is it reliable? Not according to J.D. Power, which puts the French-owned Romanian carmaker second from bottom. The study examined 177 problem symptoms across eight categories: engine and transmission; vehicle exterior; driving experience; features/controls/display; audio/communication/entertainment/nav; seats; heating, ventilation and cooling; and vehicle interior.

22: Audi – 170 problems per 100 vehicles

J.D. Power 2016

Remember what we were saying about premium brands? While people are prepared to pay a premium for the Audi badge, the J.D. Power study suggests that, with 170 problems per 100 Audis, the money might be better spent elsewhere. Indeed, across the entire UK Dependability Study, the so-called premium brands averaged 161, compared to the 99 of the volume brands.

21: BMW – 156 problems per 100 vehicles

According to J.D. Power, part of the problem is the amount of tech features offered by premium brand cars, which just happened to be the largest sources of quality issues. This might explain why the ‘big three’ German premium carmakers are lumped together near the foot of the table. BMW’s score of 156 puts it just below its chief rival…

20: Mercedes-Benz – 154 problems per 100 vehicles

The Mercedes-Benz badge was once a symbol of absolute quality, but the J.D. Power study reveals that owners might think otherwise. Releasing the results, J.D. Power claimed: “Premium brands have a huge opportunity to improve the ownership experience by providing needed customer support and training for features like audio, communication, entertainment and navigation.”

19: MINI – 140 problems per 100 vehicles

J.D. Power 2016

The UK Dependability Study reveals that built-in Bluetooth device pairing and connectivity issues are the most frequent tech-related complaint. Anyone who has attempted to pair a phone for the first time will feel that pain, although the likes of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto tend to provide an enhanced user experience. MINI sits in 19th place, with a score of 140.

18: Hyundai – 130 problems per 100 vehicles

Hyundai: a great five-year warranty, but not a particularly good finish in the J.D. Power 2016 UK Vehicle Dependability Study. Considering its sister brand Kia finishes much further up the table, the Korean brand will have every reason to feel disappointed. Unsurprisingly, J.D. Power links dependability with loyalty, claiming that reliability leads to improved customer loyalty.

=16: Volvo – 123 problems per 100 vehicles

Volvo is intent on muscling in on the space dominated by Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, so will be happy to finish higher up in the table. That said, with a score of 123, there’s definite room for improvement, especially as the Swedish carmaker is in the midst of a wholesale revamp of its model range.

=16: Jaguar – 123 problems per 100 vehicles

J.D. Power 2016

Volvo shares 16th position with Jaguar. Commenting on the survey, Dr. Axel Sprenger, senior director of European automotive operations at J.D. Power, said: “Customers in the UK expect their vehicle to be problem-free, not only in the first 90 days, but also during the first three years of ownership. When owners experience even a single problem with their vehicle, this can be the initiation of losing confidence in the vehicle and the brand.”

15: Honda – 117 problems per 100 vehicles

Dr. Sprenger went on to say: “There is a direct correlation between the number of problems customers experience with their vehicle and the decisions they make when the time comes to purchase or lease their next car. With the average price of a new vehicle in the UK at approximately £22,000, a percentage point drop in share can mean millions of pounds in lost revenue to an automaker.” Honda finishes 15th, with a score of 117.

14: Renault – 116 problems per 100 vehicles

The French carmakers finishing higher than the Germans – who would have thought it? In the past, Renault might have struggled in studies such as this, with the Laguna, Scenic and previous versions of the Megane bringing to mind tales of woe. But these are different times and Renault will be hoping the all-new Megane delivers even more success.

13: Citroen – 115 problems per 100 vehicles

J.D. Power 2016

With a score of 115, Citroen finishes just ahead of Renault, but it’s not the best performing French brand. Across the entire study, owners are reporting fewer problems in the exterior category (although it remains the most problematic area), and the engine and transmission category. Owners consider engine-related problems to be the most severe because they tend to affect the drivability of the vehicle.

12: Fiat – 112 problems per 100 vehicles

Dare we suggest Fiat will be satisfied with this result? A score of 112 puts the Italian giant just below the industry average of 113, and in a study in which a lower score is a better result, that’s a good thing. The J.D. Power study is based on responses from more than 13,000 owners of 2013-2015 model-year cars.

11: Mazda – 111 problems per 100 vehicles

A minimum sample size is required, which explains why the likes of Subaru, Alfa Romeo and Mitsubishi are missing from the 2016 study. Mazda finishes 15th in the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, with a score of 111.

10: Nissan – 98 problems per 100 vehicles

J.D. Power 2016

It’s at this point that the scores tend to get more impressive, as we creep below the 100 mark. Nissan continues to perform well in the UK, with the Qashqai and Juke making regular appearances near the top of the monthly registrations charts. But Nissan isn’t the best-performing Japanese brand…

=8. Toyota – 96 problems per 100 vehicles

Tied in eighth place is Toyota. Lexus, on the other hand, is absent from the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, a victim of a small sample size. Toyota’s premium arm tends to score well in studies such as this.

=8. SEAT – 96 problems per 100 vehicles

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that only one of the big four Volkswagen Group brands have so far made an appearance, with Audi finishing close to the bottom. SEAT is the second of the four to appear, finishing a much more respectable eighth in the table. The Spanish carmaker is set to launch the Ateca, its first SUV. Good times for SEAT?

7: Ford – 95 problems per 100 vehicles

J.D. Power 2016

Proof that mainstream and mega-sales doesn’t necessarily mean a drop in quality? A top seven finish for a carmaker selling two of the nation’s most popular vehicles is a solid result. Maybe that Mondeo Vignale makes more sense than a German car after all…

=5. Volkswagen – 92 problems per 100 vehicles

Speaking of which, Volkswagen will be delighted with a top five finish. After the struggles of 2015, the German giant will take all the good news it can get, so a score of 92 will be well received in Wolfsburg.

=5. Peugeot – 92 problems per 100 vehicles

Volkswagen shares the fifth-place berth with Peugeot – the best performing French carmaker in the J.D. Power 2016 UK Vehicle Dependability Study. Peugeot has completed a wholesale revamp of its model range, so this result means it’s a case of a job well done. If you gave up on Peugeot a decade ago, now could be the time to take a second look.

4: Vauxhall – 90 problems per 100 vehicles

J.D. Power 2016

Be honest, you weren’t expecting Vauxhall to finish in such a lofty position, were you? Not only does Vauxhall finish higher than Ford, it also manages to trounce all but three carmakers in the 2016 study. The new and much-improved Corsa and Astra are signs that Vauxhall is on a roll.

3: Kia – 80 problems per 100 vehicles

From Vauxhall’s 90 to Kia’s 80 – that’s quite a jump. It’s no wonder Kia is able to offer a seven-year warranty, because the J.D. Power study suggests its cars are a paragon of reliability. Buy with confidence, etc, etc.

2: Suzuki – 79 problems per 100 vehicles

Big result this one. Suzuki will be absolutely delighted to finish second in the study, especially as it places it top of the Japanese tree. It’s impossible not to warm to its cars. The Swift is an excellent supermini, the Celerio is likeable and cheap, the Vitara is a thoroughly good crossover, while the Baleno could be one of the surprise hits of 2016. Meanwhile, the Jimny continues to run and run (and run).

1: Skoda – 66 problems per 100 vehicles

J.D. Power 2016

Was the result ever in any doubt? For the second consecutive year, Skoda ranks highest in the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, with a hugely impressive score. As you’ll discover in a separate set of results, Skoda also has two models (Fabia and Yeti) that receive segment awards, while the Octavia was also well placed. Begs the question: why buy anything other than a Skoda?

Has an unhealthy obsession with cars of the 80s and 90s. Doesn’t really do supercars. Not a huge fan of sports cars. But loves the undervalued and the underwhelming.

Is probably a bit strange.

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