Continuing increases in technology-related problems have contributed to dependability worsening in the auto industry for a second consecutive year. That's according to according to the J.D. Power 2017 Vehicle Dependability Study, released February 22. The industry average of 156 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) is a 4 PP100 increase from 2016, the firm says.

In particular, the Audio/Communication/Entertainment/Navigation (ACEN) category continues to be the most problematic area, accounting for 22% of all problems reported—up from 20% last year.

For a third consecutive year, the problems most reported by owners are Bluetooth pairing/connectivity and built-in voice recognition misinterpreting commands.

New to the top 10 list of problems reported in 2017 is battery failure. The study says that 44% more owners report a battery failure in 2017 than in 2016. Batteries are the most frequently replaced component not related to normal wear and tear in three-year-old vehicles at 6.1%—up 1.3 percentage points from 2016.

The study, 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, with a lower score reflecting higher quality. The study covers 177 specific problems grouped into eight major vehicle categories.

The study finds that the 10 top-selling 2014 model-year vehicles average 134 PP100, which it says is "significantly better" than the industry average of 156 PP100.

“We find buyers are increasingly avoiding models with poor reputations for dependability, so manufacturers can’t afford to let quality slip, particularly on their best sellers,” says Dave Sargent, vice president, global automotive in a J.D. Power news release. “While many expensive and niche vehicles do have excellent quality, the fact is that most consumers are shopping in the high-volume mainstream segments. The good news is that consumers don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a very dependable vehicle.”

Highest-Ranked Nameplates and Models

The study says that Lexus and Porsche tie to rank highest in vehicle dependability among all nameplates, with a score of 110 PP100.

Toyota (123 PP100) follows in the rankings, moving up one rank position from 2016.

Following Toyota in the rankings are Buick (126 PP100) and Mercedes-Benz (131 PP100).

Hyundai (133 PP100) is the most improved nameplate in the study, improving by 25 PP100 from 2016. At sixth position (up from 19th in 2016), this is Hyundai’s best-ever ranking.

Other notable improvements include Dodge and Ford, which both improve by 21 PP100 from 2016, and Land Rover, which improves by 20 PP100.

Toyota Motor Corp. models receive 10 of the 18 segment awards, representing the highest number of awards ever received by an individual corporation in the study. These awardees are Lexus ES; Lexus GS; Lexus RX; Toyota Avalon; Toyota Camry; Toyota FJ Cruiser; Toyota Prius; Toyota Prius v; Toyota Sienna; and Toyota Venza. The Toyota Camry has the lowest PP100 score industry-wide.

General Motors models receive four segment awards for the Chevrolet Camaro; Chevrolet Sonic; Chevrolet Silverado HD; and Chevrolet Tahoe.

Other models receiving segment awards in the study are the Ford F-150; Honda Ridgeline; Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class; and Volkswagen Tiguan.

The 2017 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from 35,186 original owners of 2014 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership. The study was fielded from October through December 2016.