February 25, 2015 / 3:03 PM / 2 years ago

Car technology troublesome but important to buyers -J.D. Power

DETROIT, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Connecting a mobile phone and giving voice commands are still causing drivers problems, but new technology features will be highly desirable to buyers when they make their next new vehicle purchase, according to a study of auto dependability released on Wednesday.

Looks and exterior design are still the top reasons why people avoid buying a certain model, J.D. Power said. But if a car, truck of SUV does not have the latest technology, 15 percent said they would not buy it, up from only 4 percent last year.

The annual J.D. Power study is one of several that taken together show that certain brands -- Lexus, Toyota and of late, General Motors' Buick and Chevrolet brands -- are getting consistently high marks, while others consistently struggle to get above average despite quality control efforts

Lexus, the luxury brand from Toyota Motor Corp, scored the highest for the fourth straight year in the J.D. Power study.

On Tuesday, the influential Consumer Reports magazine rated Lexus the best brand in the U.S. market for the third straight year.

In both studies, General Motors Co's Buick made big moves upward, finishing second in the J.D. Power survey and becoming the first U.S. brand to be in the top 10 of the Consumer Reports brand report card.

Joining Buick in the top 10 in J.D. Power study were GM's Cadillac at fourth, with Chevrolet and GMC tied for 10th. There were 31 brands ranked.

"GM has improved relative to the industry average for seven straight years." said Dave Sargent, vice president of Global Automotive Research at J.D. Power.

He said Buick still has a "relatively older owner profile" of buyers who look after their cars and are more apt to go to dealers, where they can be helped with adapting to new technologies.

Ford Motor Co has been more aggressive introducing technologies such as voice controls, and its namesake brand fell to 25th from 17th last year and 13th in 2013. Ford says its newer systems are easier to use.

The Toyota brand, Honda and Volkswagen AG's Porsche rounded out the top half-dozen brands.

Two consistently low-scoring brands were at the bottom of the J.D. Power study. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Fiat finished last while next-to-last was Land Rover, owned by Tata Motors of India. (Reporting by Bernie Woodall; editing by Andrew Hay)

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