German carmaker Porsche accelerated from ninth place to first in a closely watched annual ranking of auto reliability released Thursday. But two other premium European brands - Jaguar and Audi - fell from well above average to well below, despite accolades for Audi's A6 model.
The ranking, compiled by California-based market-research firm J.D. Power and Associates, is based on responses from more than 52,000 owners of 2007 model-year vehicles nationwide. The questionnaire rates their experiences in the previous 12 months.
The survey found that vehicles in general had improved, from an industry average of 167 owner complaints for every 100 vehicles in last year's survey to 155.
Steve Witten, Power's executive director of U.S. Automotive Research, said the most common owner complaints are of noisy or shuddering brakes, wind noise, peeling paint, prematurely burned out lightbulbs, dead batteries, "check engine" lights illuminating for no reason, weak air-conditioning and interiors prone to scuffing or soiling.
Toyota's rate of complaint rose by one, to 126 per 100 vehicles, and the brand slipped two places in the ranking to the No. 5 spot. The survey was completed in December, just before Toyota's recalls began making headlines.
Jaguar and Audi's complaints rose by 50 and 25 per 100 vehicles, respectively. Power said it was largely on owner gripes about brakes in Jaguar's XK Coupe and various dislikes about Audi's A4 and Q7 models. Yet Power named Audi's A6 the most trouble-free midsize premium car in the study. There was no immediate comment from either carmaker.
All three Ford domestic brands and two of General Motors' three surviving brands mixed it up in the rankings with top-rated Asian brands, but Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler, which comprise the Chrysler Group, scored well below average. Witten said many Jeep complaints involved the Wrangler.
"It was among the bottom 10 performing models," he said.
Witten said the vehicle with the fewest problems of any was the aged Cadillac DTS. He declined to name the vehicle with the most complaints.
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J.D. Power and Associates found that vehicles in general had improved. Results are based on owner responses about 2007 models.
Buick and Lexus (tied)
5. Toyota (excludes Scion)
10. Land Rover
Source: J.D. Power and Assoc.