Reliability ranks No. 1 in new vehicle consideration

People choose their vehicles for a number of reasons, including utility, performance and style. Increasingly, they are judging vehicles in terms of reliability, J.D. Power finds.

Or rather, they are using reliability data to cross certain vehicles off their shopping lists. J.D. Power, in its 2016 U.S. Auto Avoider Study, finds that concerns about reliability have increased as a reason shoppers avoid certain models.

Some of the key findings of the 2016 study include:

1. Top Reasons Shoppers Buy/Avoid a Vehicle

Exterior styling is the top reason shoppers buy a particular model (59%). It is also the top reason to avoid a particular vehicle (31 percent), followed by the vehicle costs too much and interior styling (18 percent each).

2. Perception of Reliability Weighs Heavily on Purchase Decision

Despite industry-wide efforts to improve reliability, the fact that reliability emerges as a key driver of purchase and avoidance underscores the importance of customer sentiment and perception in an environment of highly publicized recalls.

3. Car Buyers Doing Less Window Shopping

Since 2012, new-vehicle buyers are considering fewer models and shopping fewer dealers. On average, buyers physically shop only three models, one of which they buy.

4. Domestic Brands vs. European and Asian Brands

There remains a significant disconnect between perception and reality regarding the reliability of domestic brands compared with European and Asian brands.

5. Avoidance of domestic models

Reliability concerns (24 percent) is nearly twice that of European (13 percent) and Asian (12 percent) models. In reality, the actual reliability of most domestic models is competitive with that of their import competitors.

It’s interesting that American consumers still perceive Asian and European vehicles as being more reliable than domestic models. As J.D. Power points out, domestic vehicles have caught up to the competition in terms of reliability.

This points out how much perception matters – even in the face of hard evidence to the contrary.

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