Luxury cars have moved past the days of the ignition-challenged Jaguars in AMC's "Mad Men," but many still have faults. The Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Buick LaCrosse rate below average in Consumer Reports' reliability surveys; the Lincoln MKX, BMW X3, BMW 7 Series and Buick Verano rate even worse. Then there's Jaguar, which earned low marks in J.D. Power and Associates' predicted reliability ratings for its entire 2012 crop. Sibling brand Land Rover fared little better.
Does it matter? Not as much as you think.
It seems luxury-car shoppers care for reliability as much as Don Draper cares for self-restraint. Through April, Jaguar and Land Rover sales are up 12.7%. The Verano outsold Buick's Regal and Encore combined. M-Class sales are down, but it's still Mercedes' best-selling SUV. The MKX is Lincoln's best-selling car. Period.
Are luxury cars unreliable on the whole? The jury's still out. Luxury brands took top honors in J.D. Power's latest Initial Quality and Vehicle Dependability studies, but they spanned the gamut in Consumer Reports' reliability surveys. That's why Jake Fisher, the magazine's director of auto testing, sees little correlation between luxury and reliability.