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VW, Ford Top New “Total Quality” Study

Balancing the good and the bad.

by on Jul.14, 2011

Despite some problems with vehicles like Jetta, VW nabbed the lead in the Total Quality Index.

What matters most: the little niggling problems, like an occasional rattle, or the things that surprise and delight a motorist, such as a heated steering wheel or a state-of-the-art navigation system?  How one answers that question could determine which of the many – and often conflicting — automotive quality studies matters most.

The latest, the so-called Total Quality Index, from California-based consultancy Strategic Vision, Inc., places Volkswagen at the top of the industry heap, followed by Ford Motor Co.  That’s in sharp contrast to the results of another recent survey, J.D. Power and Associates’ widely-quoted Initial Quality Study knocking Ford off its pedestal for racking up too many complaints for the complexity of its in-car infotainment technology.

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The gap between the new TQI and Powers’ IQS underscores the different methodologies at work.  “We decided to measure ‘quality’ from the ‘total’ perspective of the driver/owner, because this is how people actually judge ‘quality’ in terms of the decision to purchase or not,” explained Strategic Visions’ founder and Chairman Dr. Darrel Edwards.

By SVI logic, a problem with programming the new FordMyTouch system is more than offset by the fact that so many motorists are actually buying Ford products because they want the new technology.

Power, on the other hand, focuses exclusively on “Things Gone Wrong” with the IQS and most of its other studies.  It looks at “Things Gone Right” with one particular survey, dubbed APEAL. And, not surprisingly, makers – such as Chrysler — that often do poorly in Power studies that focus on problems wind up at the top of the chart in APEAL.

In the Total Quality Index, that permits perennial quality also-rans, such as Volkswagen, to take the lead, Ford overcoming its acknowledged recent problems.  Honda, which did well on the Power study, also landed in third with the TQI, tying with Nissan.

VW actually had some niggling problems in the TQI, especially with its new Jetta model, but Strategic Visions found only 5% were what could be considered serious issues.  The maker conversely won owner praise for such things as styling, roominess and the drive characteristics the German maker has long been known for.

The survey queried 37,069 motorists who had purchased 2011-model vehicles between  September and December of last year.  VW scored 881, the higher the number being the better, followed by:

  • Ford, at 863;
  • Honda and Nissan, tied at 862; and with an
  • Industry average at 861

GM just missed that cut, at 860, but still led Toyota, at 854.  Chrysler scored 853 and Hyundai lagged at 852.

Looking at specific vehicle categories, Ford led in four, including Mid-size Crossover Utility, for Flex, and Full-size Pickup, for the F-150.  Honda also claimed four segment wins, including Small Car, for the Civic Hybrid.  Hyundai dominated in three segments, such as Entry Utility, claimed by the Tiguan, and Mid-size Car, where its Jetta tied with the Hyundai Sonata.


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