Lexus scored an industry leading 73 on a scale of problems per 100 vehicles, while Jaguar and Porsche tied for second on 75. The industry average this year was 102 problems per 100 vehicles, an improvement from 107 last year.
Jaguar was the big improver, second place from 20th last year. Overall 26 of the 34 brands in the survey improved their score over last year, five declined, one was steady and two brands entered the 2012 survey for the first time.
So Lexus was top of the heap, who was on the bottom? Fiat and Smart tied for last place. Each had roughly double the number of faults reported by Lexus owners. MINI was third last, while Volkswagen, Dodge and Mitsubishi also recorded near the bottom of the table results.
Significantly, it was not so much mechanical faults this year, but problems with audio, entertainment and navigation systems. Since 2006 there has been a 45 percent increase in related issues, running counter to a 24 percent improvement elsewhere in the survey.
The number of owner-reported problems with factory-installed hands-free communication devices has increased by 137 percent during the past four years. Hands-free devices not recognizing commands is now the most-often-reported problem.
Ford, in particular, has suffered a slide down the quality ratings as a result of problems with its MyFord technology. This has resulted in its going from 5th place in 2010 to 27th place this year. However, with individual models Ford did well with the Taurus (large car), Mustang (mid-size sporty car) and Expedition (large crossover/SUV).
Lexus won with its RX SUV (mid-size premium crossover class), ES350 (entry premium) and LS (large premium).
Since I cannot get my home computer to work faultlessly, I pity the auto manufacturers trying to get the on-board computing/electronics to be bulletproof.