J. D. Power Dependability Ratings Used in Combination with Auto Grades

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J.D. Power dependability vehicle ratings and The Auto Professor’s Auto Grades rely upon totally different data for different purposes.

J.D. Power has been collecting data on customer satisfaction since 1968, and publishing studies on vehicle Quality, Dependability, and Performance annually.  Their broad studies are based on a sample of data collected from car owners, using questionnaires and surveys.

J.D. Power’s vehicle ratings give useful information, but none of it relates to safety.

In contrast, The Auto Professor is focused on safety and protection.  Our Auto Grades are ratings based on real crashes as recorded by our federal government, which collects data on all fatal crashes (as opposed to just a sample). The resulting Auto Grades reflect the track record of how vehicles have protected their drivers in the worst crashes on our roadways. We certainly do not use opinions collected in surveys, or pretend crashes with pretend people (in-laboratory crash testing with dummies).  We take no money from car manufacturers. Our Auto Grades are unbiased. You can find more information about our Auto Grades here.

To illustrate how J.D. Power’s ratings can be used in combination with the safety ratings of Auto Grades, we consider the recently released 2019 Vehicle Dependability Study.  The study covers 177 issues, and ranks vehicles based on the number of problems original owners experienced over the past 12 months for model-year 2016 vehicles.  In the mid-size car category, the Toyota Camry was the highest ranked while the Buick Regal and Volkswagen Passat tied for second place. We use these three highly ranked vehicles to illustrate how car buyers can start with J.D. Power lists, and then explore the Auto Grades to narrow their choices of dependable and safe vehicles.

The Auto Grades of J.D. Power 3 Top Highest Rated Dependable Mid-Size Vehicles

Here are key takeaways based on these examples:

(1) A vehicle that is judged to be dependable is not always a safe choice. For example, J.D. Power rates the 2016 Buick Regal as one of the most dependable mid-size cars, but our overall Auto Grade of D+ indicates subpar driver protection.

(2) Auto Grades are the only safety ratings based on data about how real people fared in severe crashes. This means we can often rank vehicles by the age and gender of the driver, providing detailed ratings that are useful for car buyers interested in both reliability and safety.

  • Sometimes it is possible to find vehicles that are highly rated by both J.D. Power’s Dependability scale and the Auto Grades safety ratings. For example, the 2016 Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat both receive very high Auto Grades for younger drivers.
  • Personalized Auto Grade ratings often get worse as the driver gets older. In these examples, vehicles that have the highest dependability ratings by J.D. Power have average or below-average driver protection for older drivers.

If you’re searching for a used car, dependability is almost certainly going to be one of your concerns – dealing with a car that’s always in the shop is disruptive and expensive. You may choose to use J.D. Power’s Dependability studies as part of your research. But, make sure to always check the Auto Grade. Even the best drivers can be at risk due to the actions of others….what is the point of having a dependable car if it leaves you unprotected in an accident? Get our real on-the-road safety rankings to make sure you’re protecting your family and the ones you love.

Working together to create a world where everyone walks away from a crash.

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