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Friday, March 10, 2017
Canadians want reliability in their cars - so how does 2017's crop stack up?
Forget fine Corinthian leather,
ultimate connectivity and high horsepower. It appears that Canadians are more
interested in buying a vehicle that doesn't leave them stranded on the side of
the road than they are in creature comforts or high technology.
That's according to a survey of
Canadian men and women (or, to be inclusive "memen"), as reported by
a GfK survey
of over 22,000 Internet users in 17 countries, though only 1,002 of them were from
the Once Great White North. It appears to be a "yuge" majority, too:
more than eight in 10 women (83 per cent) and 77 per cent of men named
reliability as the number one feature they seek out when they put down their
hard-earned after-tax cash for a new set of wheels.
That's a pretty hefty margin! On the
other hand, only 23 per cent of guys and 17 per cent of gals seek out the
latest technology in a vehicle they purchase. I can see that to a certain
extent: some of the current safety nannies, like lane departure warnings, can
be very obtrusive and annoying, and the first time one experiences them can be
a bit of a freak-out.
in an accident" was the second priority of Canuck respondents and once
again the distaff side of the humanity ledger cited it as more important than
the dudes did: 80 per cent versus 65 per cent. This should surprise no one
these days, especially considering the emphasis on stuff like "Top Safety
Pick" and "millions of air bags" and "we have the best
safety features" that finds its way into automotive advertising.
Me, I'd rather
have a light and nimble vehicle that can avoid collisions rather than just bail
you out after one happens. After all, while you only use your expensive and
complicated airbag systems once, you use things like competent handling
capabilities, enough power to propel you out of dangerous situations
efficiently, good mirrors that don't block the view of pedestrians, Bluetooth,
automatic headlights and top notch brakes every day.
As usual I
seem to be a voice barking in the wilderness. Oh, well. So be it.
As for the
drive for ever-better fuel economy, only five per cent of Canuck women who
answered the survey considered good mileage very important - number three on
their list of priorities. This, not surprisingly, is the opposite to what men
think: 65 per cent of the guys said sipping fuel is just as important as
I guess guys
just don't like stopping once they're behind the wheel!
Men also put a
higher priority on power than the powder puff people: 26 per cent of men compared
to 19 per cent of women, though the power issue didn't even make the top five
of people's priorities.
the environmental friendliness of a car: Women (40 per cent) think it's
important while only 35 per cent of men did. Take that, boring eco-wheels!
The other two
factors rounding out the top five list of priorities were quality of workmanship and low costs of
ownership, both of which kind of echo the number one priority of reliability.
quest for dependability, it could be interesting to apply that knowledge to
data about which vehicles are in fact the most reliable - and this is where
J.D. Power and its surveys come in.
J. D. Power
has been doing a variety of such surveys for decades and for 2017 the list
contains what I thought were a few surprises - not just for most reliable
vehicles but also for the least reliable as well as the best in initial quality
- the latter of which tracks vehicles for 90 days from when they're driven off
think that higher end brands such as Lexus and Mercedes-Benz would have an
advantage here, and they often do - but the 2017 initial quality survey named
South Korea's Kia as the best brand to drive off the lot.
significant is this for Kia? According to Power's press prattle, it's "the first time in 27 years that a
non-premium brand has topped the rankings. It is also the second consecutive
year that Kia, which ranked second in 2015, has led all non-premium makes in
This may gobsmack
many people, but I've
been singing the praises of Kia and sister Hyundai for years - more because
they're very nice cars than for their initial quality or reliability. I only
get test vehicles for about a week, so unless something blows up during my test
(which has happened, even in a recent Kia review)
it's difficult to judge those factors.
there are warranties on new vehicles and, hopefully, dealers will actually pay
attention to them. I have little experience with new car warranties since my
last brand new car was in 1983, so can't really comment on that.
J. D. Power
says the results show the most improvement over all (for all brands in the
study) in seven years, which is good news for those in the market for a new set
the initial quality list, my favourite brand of all time - Porsche - came in
second, followed by Hyundai, Toyota and BMW. Chrysler and Jeep, which belong to
the same company, were named most improved.
surprisingly, came in eighth, behind two GM brands (Chevrolet and Buick), while
Lincoln and Nissan rounded out the top 10.
Dependability Study, which J. D. Power says is now in its 28th year,
"examines problems experienced during the past 12 months by original
owners of 2014 model-year vehicles. Overall dependability is determined by the
number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score
reflecting higher quality. The study covers 177 specific problems grouped into
eight major vehicle categories."
here is that individual new models introduced after 2014 can't be included,
though of course they're likely to show up in the initial quality survey. So
check 'em both out if you're checking out either parameter individually.
A lot of the
same names appear atop the dependability survey: Porsche and Lexus (with a
score of 110 PP100 each) tied for top bragging rights, with Toyota (123 PP100)
moving up one rank from 2016 to score third place. Next came Buick (126 PP100)
and Mercedes-Benz (131 PP100).
PP100) is named in the survey as the most improved nameplate, moving the brand
into sixth position, up from 19th - its best-ever ranking in the VDS. BMW,
Chevrolet, Hyundai and Jaguar rounded out the top 10. Jaguar! That's wonderful
to see, especially given the old stereotype of British cars being, well, a tad
less reliable than politicians' promises.
On the other
hand, corporate stablemate Land Rover was eighth least reliable…
The rest of
the "deplorables" are "led" by Fiat, and by a big margin
(298 PP100) over second worst (and corporate stablemate) Jeep (209 PP100). Infiniti,
Dodge, Ram, Ford and Mitsubishi all scored more than 180 PP100 with two
Japanese makes (Nissan and Acura) rounding out the bottom 10.
this can go a long way toward helping consumers choose vehicles that are least
likely to pitch a fit away from home, though of course like any survey they're
merely snapshots of a larger picture.
And, as always,
your mileage may vary. And don't forget about "caveat emptor" and
"Murphy's Law" with any vehicle you may choose.