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Jaguar Struggles to Claw Up From the Bottom of J.D. Power 2021 Dependability Rankings

Jaguar is known for producing attractive, luxurious, high-performance vehicles. But the brand’s sales haven’t matched past performance for a while. Vintage Jaguars remain in demand among car collectors, yet the automaker’s challenges selling its vehicles stateside led Ford to sell the brand in 2010 to Tata Motors. And sales have continued to slump.

A legacy brand like Jaguar may no longer capture the imagination the same way a newer brand like Tesla does. And manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz and even Tata’s own Land Rover have dominated the luxury market. Another reason Jaguar’s sales are likely slipping? Dependability. There’s a case to be made that low dependability is hurting the automaker’s sales. And it’s undoubtedly struggling in this department. The proof is its poor ranking in J.D. Power’s U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study two years in a row.

What factors make a car dependable?

When we think of dependable cars, we think of cars we can trust to take us from place to place without breaking down. We think of cars we’re not constantly running back and forth to the shop to diagnose and repair some new expensive problem. We think of cars with good warranty coverage and without recall notices. And we think of cars we trust will keep us as safe as possible in the unfortunate event of an accident.

J.D. Power conducts an annual study that strives to ascertain the most dependable vehicles. It focuses specifically on the owners of 3-year-old cars. It examines several exterior and interior and problem areas, including seats, controls, displays, audio, entertainment, navigation, HVAC, performance and handling, and engine and transmission.

J.D. Power published the abbreviated results of its 2021 study last month. Auto industry publications may purchase the research and write in-depth pieces on various findings. The marketing firm also sells copies of the study to auto manufacturers who might find it helpful to improve future models.

Jaguar’s ranking in J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study

In addition to sagging sales, Jaguar also suffers a low ranking on the latest U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. J.D. Power ranked the British automaker 31 out of 33, above only Alfa Romeo and Land Rover. The previous year, Jaguar scored marginally higher, coming in at number 30. When you examine some of the common complaints you hear from Jaguar owners, it’s not hard to see why.

In the owner forums on Edmunds and ConsumerAffairs, Jaguar owners commonly complain about the engine, safety, and service issues. Indeed, the 3-year-old 2018 Jaguar XE, among other models, saw multiple safety recalls for electrical and engine issues. Owners also commonly complain about the high repair costs they entail. While some models perform better than others, Jaguar has been known for historically poor warranty coverage.

Sluggish sales have also prompted the brand to begin pushing crossover SUVs and electric vehicles in recent years. Though they’ve yet to gain a significant foothold, traditional Jaguar sedans like the XE and XF Sportbrake continue to underperform in sales and earn critical reviews from publications such as MotorTrend and Car and Driver.

Other low-ranking brands joining Jaguar at the bottom of the list

Alfa Romeo, which ranked 32nd, is also struggling to find traction. Part of its poor sales performance is likely due to consumers’ waning interest in old-school luxury brands like Jaguar. However, Alfa Romeo vehicle owners have noted numerous engine and A/C problems. Of course, these issues impair drivability and/or are expensive to fix.

Finally, Land Rover ranks last. However, unlike Jaguar and Alfa Romeo, Land Rover vehicles are selling relatively well. They’ve become popular thanks to celebrities who pose with them on social media and television. Still, owners commonly complain about Land Rover suspension systems, brakes, onboard technology, and safety features on CarComplants.com and ConsumerAffairs.

As Jaguar plans to transition to an all-EV lineup by 2025, it would do well to improve the basic design issues owners complain about most. In the past six years, Jaguar has begun to offer more comprehensive warranties and complimentary maintenance coverage. And its newer vehicles have enjoyed stronger reviews, improved reliability, and greater dealer satisfaction, The Drive reports. Still, it will be a while before anyone starts viewing the brand as a beacon of reliability and dependability.