The Least Dependable Car Brands According to JD Power’s 2018 Rankings
Overall, cars and trucks posted their best year for improved dependability since 2013, according to the 2018 J.D. Power rankings. In fact, an executive at the market information company said vehicles were “without question, at [their] best level ever” when it came to this metric.
Unfortunately, car consumers can’t buy an industry; you buy one vehicle and live with the consequences, good or bad. As we saw in the SUV dependability rankings for 2018, many popular models performed poorly over the past few years.
The same went for the automakers themselves. While Lexus and Porsche continue to soar above the pack, many foreign and domestic manufacturers came up short. Here are the least dependable car brands on the market, according to J.D. Power’s 2018 rankings.
Based on the responses of nearly 37,000 car owners, J.D. Power reported problems in Acura models at a rate of 159 issues per 100 vehicles. Owners submitted their responses in late 2017, during the third year of ownership of their Acura. Honda’s premium brand fell well short of the mark set by competitors like Infiniti (the study’s biggest mover, to No. 4) and first-place Lexus.
Next: This pricey brand struggled mightily in what has become a trend.
Whether you go by Consumer Reports or J.D. Power surveys, you’ve likely heard bad feedback about the Jaguar brand in recent years. Maybe that’s par for the course when you release a number of new models (see: Tesla), but Jaguar hasn’t become a brand consumers trust for economical ownership by any stretch over the years.
Next: Poor ratings for Volvo SUVs dragged the brand down.
Since the Volvo XC90 debuted for the 2015 model year, the automaker has taken a lot of heat for the SUV’s dependability. J.D. Power’s survey revealed problems with the XC60 and now-discontinued XC70 as well.
Altogether, these performances dragged the brand down into the 10 worst on the U.S. market in recent years. Unfortunately for Volvo, reports on the 2018 XC90 don’t bode well, either.
Next: The best dependability score in Dodge’s history still landed it among the worst of 2018.
When your best dependability score in three decades of J.D. Power surveys still reveals 166 problems per 100 vehicles, you know your brand has had a rough time. That was the case for Dodge and most of other the Fiat-Chrysler brands around the 2015 model year, which this study covers.
The Grand Caravan, Charger, and Journey SUV got some of the worst feedback of vehicles wearing the Dodge badge. On the bright side, the Challenger took the dependabilty prize among muscle cars.
Next: Fiat-Chrysler’s truck brand also scored poorly on dependability.
While there was good news for both Chevrolet (No. 6) and Ford (much improved from 2017), Ram ended up among the bottom of the barrel. Both the heavy-duty(2500) and light-duty (1500) models ranked lowest in their segments, well behind F-Series and Silverado. Owners reported 167 problems per 100 trucks.
Next: While consumers trust the Subaru brand, 2015 models showed numerous trouble spots in their third year on the road.
If you check the 2018 Consumer Reports rankings, Subaru scored near the top for reliability, and that’s normal for the Japanese brand. However, owners reported an average of 167 problems per 100 cars here for the 2015 model year. Features and accessories (i.e., infotainment) proved to be Subaru’s downfall this time around.
Next: Interior dependability didn’t get worse than it did in Mitsubishi vehicles.
Among mainstream (non-luxury) brands, Mitsubishi was one of three that ranked worst in body and interior dependability. This area covers squeaks and noises, tangling seat belts and other fit-and-finish issues. All told, owners reported 173 problems per 100 Mitsubishi models in the study.
Next: This American luxury brand has been pounded by critics and owners in recent years.
In what has been a forgettable era for Cadillac, the brand got a little more bad feedback from its 2015 lineup. GM’s luxury marque received the lowest possible score for powertrain, body and interior, and tech features.
Altogether, owners reported a whopping 186 problems per 100 Cadillacs in their third year on the road. Only one luxury brand ranked worse in the 2018 roundup.
Next: This Fiat-Chrysler brand has few bright spots for three-year-old vehicles.
If you go segment by segment, you’ll find Jeep models popping up at the bottom of every dependability list. Cherokee (compact SUV) joined Compass (small SUV) in dead-last, while Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, and Patriot barely scored better.
When J.D. Power rounded up the complaints, they counted 188 problems per 100 vehicles. Powertrain and body/interior issues came up the most.
Next: This small-car brand did not win many fans in recent years.
While J.D. Power did not devote much attention to individual Fiat models, it made sure to note the overall number of complaints the brand got for its 2015 lineup. In the third year of operation, Fiat owners reported 192 problems per 100 cars.
The 500 minicar and 500X subcompact SUV received bruising reviews around 2015-16, and it seems owners did not grow fond of these models after a few years of ownership.
Next: Land Rover failed in nearly every area of the survey.
2. Land Rover
Among luxury brands, none got worse than Land Rover vehicles in their third year on the road. In fact, it wasn’t all that close.
Owners reported 204 problems per 100 vehicles, which was 18 more than Cadillac, the nearest competitor in the luxury segment. Next time you see James Bond drive a Range Rover, pray he doesn’t experience powertrain failure or a seat-belt malfunction.
Next: A new minivan seems to be this fading brand’s last hope.
Whether you drove Imperial for the style or a Town & Country to haul kids around town, millions of Americans saw the best of the Chrysler brand over the past decades. These days, the automaker only produces the well-reviewed Pacifica minivan and the 300. That’s it.
When you look at the reputation the 200 sedan and most recent Town & Country had, it’s probably for the best. Owners reported 211 problems per 100 Chrysler vehicles, making it the least dependable brand in America.
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