Korean Brands Top Performers on JD Power Initial Quality Study

Which Car Ranks Highest for Quality? Surprisingly, It's a Kia

New vehicle reliability hits record high but driver-assist features struggle

Power initial quality study released today.

Lexus - long considered a stalwart of quality - ranked 15th out of 32 brands in J.D. Power's initial quality study, falling from seventh previous year and first place as recently as 2012. This year's study yielded almost 80,000 responses from February to May by purchasers or lessees of '17 model-year vehicles.

New vehicle quality overall for the industry reached a new record high, improving eight percent compared to last year's record-setting year.

The decline for Lexus, with owners reporting 98 problems reported per 100 vehicles in the first three months of ownership, has been playing out for several years. According to the J.D. Power study, plenty of problems remain despite technological advancements.

Sargent points out that frustration is particularly evident with some lane departure warning systems. The industry average for brands improved to a rate of 97 problems, from 105 a year ago.

Porsche, Ford and Ram rounded out the top five.

Domestic brands continue to show improvement: The "Detroit Three" outperform import brands for the second year in a row but for only the third time since the study was first published in 1987.

Korean brands, meanwhile, have been improving for years. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed quality scores for all 32 auto brands considered by J.D. Power.

"Japanese brands that once dominated the Top 10 among J.D. Powers" IQS rankings have suffered problems with audio/communications/entertainment/navigation (ACEN) systems, Sargent said. But these days, bread-and-butter brands like General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet division and Ford Motor Co. are doing so much better that their overall scores have surpassed many expensive brands, he said. "Like everybody else, they've had challenges with new technology and they haven't shown improvement while many others have".

Fiat, ranked 32 last year and this year, scored 163 problems per 100 vehicles.

Also below the industry average, in best-to-worst order, are GMC, Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, Acura, Cadillac, Honda, Dodge, Infiniti, Jeep, Subaru, Audi, Mazda, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Volvo, Jaguar and Fiat.

J.D. Power also bestows plant-quality awards as part of IQS, based exclusively on defects and malfunctions, not design-related issues. In a 233-question survey, the owners reported problems encountered with their purchases.

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