As time progresses, cars and trucks get safer and more reliable with every passing year. That might sound like hyperbole, but it isn’t according to the latest J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS). This year, Lexus made it to the top of the list. This score was 81, the lowest out of all other participating brands. J.D. Power included in the study.
All areas tested by J.D. Power showed improvement this year
The areas tested cover 177 different problems over eight categories. These categories are: “audio/communication/entertainment/navigation (ACEN); engine/transmission; exterior; interior; features/controls/displays (FCD); driving experience; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; and seats.”
The 2018 year automobiles included in this study were first examined in the U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS). The IQS ensured that the automobiles tested had improved for the fourth year in a row. Many of the vehicles tested in the IQS were also ranked at the top of the VDS.
“Today’s three-year-old vehicles are of higher quality and more dependable than in previous years,” Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power, noted. He also noted that cars don’t fall apart or deteriorate at such a fast pace.
Ideally, this means cars would last longer and be safer for longer periods of time. Vehicles could be fixed instead of being totaled in an accident. That would certainly make cars more reliable.
Are old cars better than new ones?
According to the scores, newer cars are inherently more reliable than old cars. Of course, that doesn’t automatically make new cars better, but it makes the driving experience better. Kia, in particular, was most improved.
Based on the score criteria from J.D. Power, Kia improved by over 30 points from the 2020 dependability study. The Kia Optima, Kia Sorento, and Kia Sportage even received four awards for Hyundai Motor Group. These cars were not mentioned in the previous year.
In addition to that, the best score this year for a brand was 81 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100). For 2020, the lowest score was 89 PP100. That shows a slight improvement in problems per vehicle. Still, it is important to remember that older cars being better than new cars is entirely subjective.
Technology is still a headache for many car owners
The audio/communication/entertainment/navigation area was one that still gives owners the biggest headache. As we move away from real buttons and into the realm of touch-screen technology, the improvements are slower. Sargent commented that if a driver cannot count on a system like this to work, it is considered “a lack of dependability.”
An example of this would be trying to use navigation when one of the touch-buttons doesn’t work. Similarly, using a voice-controlled feature that constantly misunderstands the user would make it seem unreliable.
Many drivers are still fond of older cars. Classic cars offered a sense of simplicity and were often easy to work on once you learned one. According to Leland-West Insurance, most older cars didn’t offer helpful features like anti-lock breaks or traction control, but such cars offered a more “hands-on” driving experience.
Technology or not, cars do seem to be more reliable than they were a decade ago. There are many classic automobiles available for the more analog experience, and then hop into your Tesla for days you don’t feel like doing much. The best of both worlds.