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Japanese Automakers Slide, Koreans Surge in New J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

Japanese brands, as a group, post worst performance in 29 years.

by on Jun.17, 2015

Hyundai has scored major gains in quality with products like the 2015 Tucson, according to Power.

This story contains updated information.

If the latest J.D. Power survey is any indication, you might need to re-think just about everything you thought you knew about automotive quality.

The latest Initial Quality Survey, or IQS, finds that Japanese automakers, on the whole, have suffered a significant slide in the quality charts, with only three brands in the Top 10 this year. But the real shocker might be the surge in Korean quality. Kia, a brand long known for cheap, mediocre products, was second, behind top-ranked Porsche, with Hyundai ranked fourth. Jaguar, also struggling to reverse a reputation for poor quality, was third.

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For the Korean brands, which are caught up in a ferocious battle for market, the survey results represent a measure of vindication.  “We are extremely proud of the results,” said Mike Ofiara, a spokesman for Kia, which finished second in the overall ranking. “We’ve come a very long way. It’s representative of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”

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GM, Audi, Volvo Make Gains, Ford Stumbles in Consumer Reports Reliability Study

Lexus, Acura, Toyota Still Lead – but Toyota Camry loses “Recommended” rating.

by on Oct.28, 2013

Ford's C-Max Energi was the lowest-rated vehicle in the new CR reliability survey.

While Japanese makers continue to dominate the influential Consumer Reports annual vehicle reliability survey, General Motors, Audi and Volvo made significant gains, each cracking into the Top 10 this year.

While Detroit makers, on the whole, have been gaining ground, Ford Motor Co. dipped well below average. The second-largest of the domestic auto manufacturers has been hammered by complaints about its digital infotainment systems – an issue that has been causing grief for many of its competitors, as well, according to the CR survey of 1.1 million vehicle owners.

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The annual survey contained a number of surprises, including some unexpected problems plaguing traditionally Japanese manufacturers. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports announced that some of the most popular Asian products, including Toyota’s Camry, RAV4 and Prius V models, have lost their coveted “Recommended Buy” rating because of their poor performance in new crash tests.

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Japanese Makers Dominate Consumer Reports Reliability Study

Audi, General Motors make gains – but Ford, Chrysler, Hyundai, Nissan all slide.

by on Oct.29, 2012

Audi's -- its S4 shown here -- pops into the Top 10 for the first time in the CR reliability study.

Japanese makers – led by Toyota – dominated the 2012 automotive reliability study by influential Consumer Reports magazine.

But the study showed that European makers, notably the Audi brand, made significant gains. So did General Motors, though the other two Detroit makers didn’t fare nearly as well in the annual report by the non-profit magazine.

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“Ford had a pretty bad year,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of automotive testing, noting that the Ford brand fell to 27th among the brands covered by the study while its sibling Lincoln marque dipped to 26th.

Toyota Motor Co.’s three U.S. brands led the annual reliability study, Scion in first place, followed by Toyota and then the Lexus luxury line.  Mazda, meanwhile, landed in fourth position.  Japanese makers have traditionally led the Consumer Reports study.

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Cadillac Escalade Takes Top Spot in Customer Satisfaction Survey

Buick and Mercedes-Benz score high in new study.

by on May.24, 2012

The Cadillac Escalade tops the charts in the new Vehicel Satisfaction Awards.

Quality, reliability and dependability have become the price of admission in today’s auto industry.  It takes quite a bit more to stand out in the increasingly crowded market, according to a new study, which finds the Cadillac Escalade the top model in terms of customer satisfaction.

Buick and Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, tied as top brands in the 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards, or VSA, which asked 75,000 motorists to rate the vehicles they’re driving.

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“In today’s market, it’s difficult to find a low quality vehicle,” according to George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, Inc., a California-based research firm that prepared the new report.  “The quality of vehicles from all manufacturers has risen to the highest level in history and what delineates a car or truck is owner satisfaction.”

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Growing Number of Buyers Steer Clear of Imports

“Conventional wisdom,” rather than latest quality data, often a factor in brand selection, says new J.D. Power study.

by on Jan.26, 2012

Makers like Ford -- its new 2013 Fusion shown here -- and Hyundai have to overcome negative quality perceptions that lag reality, according to a new study.

Word-of-mouth is typically a critical factor in the choice a car buyer makes, yet “conventional wisdom” about which brands have the best quality may be sorely out of date, notes a new study by J.D. Power and Associates. Nonetheless, 40% of buyers say they steered clear of one brand or another because of what they’ve heard about quality, rather than actually checking for the latest data.

Meanwhile, though Detroit automakers have long abandoned their “Buy American” campaigns, the public’s interest in bringing more manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. seems to be paying off.  Power’s latest annual “Avoider Study” finds that that nearly one in seven buyers has steered clear of a foreign-badged product precisely because of where it was made.

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The 2012 Avoider Study also found that fuel economy is now the most influential factor in choosing – or avoiding – a product, though factors like price and styling are also strongly influential.

“The fact that so many new-vehicle buyers may be basing their opinions about quality and reliability on pre-conceived notions, rather than concrete information or data, demonstrates how important it is for automakers to promote the quality and reliability of their models,” said Jon Osborn, research director at J.D. Power and Associates.

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Porsche Top Brand in New Ideal Vehicle Awards

Ford leads with seven product wins.

by on Aug.16, 2011

Porsche's iconic 911 snags the top rating in the latest Ideal Vehicle Awards.

Porsche topped the chart as the most desirable brand in the latest Ideal Vehicle Awards from AutoPacific, Inc., but Ford claimed victory of its own by capturing more individual segment wins than any other manufacturer.

The annual IVA is an effort by the California consultancy to go beyond traditional automotive quality surveys – which traditionally focus on what are known, in the industry, as “Things-Gone-Wrong,” or TGWs.  These days, there’s a relatively modest gap when it comes to such problems between even the best and worst makers.  So the Ideal Vehicle Awards balance quality problems with the sort of features that surprise and delight customers – such as comfort, ride and handling, fuel economy and performance.

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“This research recognizes the vehicles that owners want to change the least. In other words, the vehicles that already match their owner’s demands,” explained AutoPacific President George Peterson.

Porsche, which typically does well when it comes to classic Things-Gone-Wrong surveys, also topped the Ideal Vehicle chart – for the fourth time since 2008.  But in a significant illustration of how initial quality isn’t always the final word for customers, Chrysler was tops among mainstream brands.  The maker has shown improvement in recent quality surveys – such as the widely-quoted J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey — but still lags the industry average.

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Porsche is Industry’s Most APEAL-ing Brand

But all-new Hyundai Equus is the most appealing new product, according to new J.D. Power study.

by on Jul.27, 2011

The 2011 Hyundai Equus is the market's most APEAL-ing model, according to a new study.

Porsche is far and above the most “APEAL”-ing brand when it comes to American auto buyers, but the all-new Hyundai Equus, the Korean maker’s first premium luxury sedan, was far and away the highest-rated individual model in the latest annual APEAL study by J.D. Power and Associates.

Short for Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout, the APEAL Study takes a very different look at the automotive market compared to traditional defect-based surveys, such as Power’s Initial Quality Study, or IQS.  It looks at what might be called “things-gone-right,” the surprise-and-delight features that might make one model a standout even when compared to a product with a lower overall things-gone-wrong quality rating.

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By that measure, the 2011 models are more appealing, in fact reaching a historic high for the study, which was first conducted in 1996.  On a 1,000-point scale, the average 2011 model scored 781, up from 778 last year.  Significantly, the industry seems to be figuring out what it takes to make their products more enticing, as demonstrated by the class of 2011.  All-new 2011 models, on average, scored 29 points higher than holdover products – the biggest gap since the APEAL survey was launched.

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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.

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Initial Quality of New 2011 Models “Declined Considerably,” Cautions New Study

Annual J.D. Power report finds quality of older models “better than ever.”

by on Jun.23, 2011

The 2011 Dodge Durango was one of the rare all-new models to improve its quality score.

New car shoppers will find some good news and bad in the latest Initial Quality Study: the quality of all-new 2011 models “declined considerably”, but the quality of carryover products was better than ever, according to from Power and Associates.

Japanese automakers, led by Toyota’s Lexus luxury brand, dominated this year’s Initial Quality Study, or IQS, which measures problems with new vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership.  Honda jumped to second in the annual survey, but the biggest improvement was posted by perennial quality laggard Land Rover.

Significantly, after nearly matching the quality of the top Japanese brands just a year ago, Detroit’s Big Three makers slipped markedly in the 2011 IQS, but Detroit slipped in the latest study – in part due to problems with new technologies, such as the Ford Sync system.

A variety of issues led to the unexpectedly poor performance of all-new 2011 models – the first time since 2006 that newly-launched products haven’t improved in quality compared to the vehicles they replaced.  The most notable were engine/transmission problems, according to Power Vice President David Sargent.  But there were also significant issues with the latest audio/entertainment and navigation systems.

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“Clearly, consumers are interested in having new technology in their vehicles, but automakers must ensure that the technology is ready for prime time,” said Sargent, Power’s head of global vehicle research. “Successful companies will be those that can take this incredibly complex technology and make it reliable, seamless and easy for owners to operate while they are driving. There is an understandable desire to bring these technologies to market quickly, but automakers must be careful to walk before they run.”

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The Worst Cars on the Road?

Mercedes, Smart and Nissan cited, but Detroit offerings dominate Forbes’ list.

by on Apr.28, 2011

The worst car on the road? The Mercedes-Benz S550 takes its lumps in a new study.

By just about any metric you choose – from fuel economy to long-term reliability – today’s automotive offerings continue to get better and better.  But there are still a few clunkers.

And Forbes magazine has come up with a list of what it claims are the worst cars on the road, using data from six key studies – covering matters such as safety and cost-of-ownership.

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The list includes a few surprises, such as the vaunted Mercedes-Benz S-Class, as well as some poorly-reviewed offerings, notably the Smart fortwo.  But Forbes reserves the brunt of its wrath for Detroit, which overwhelmingly dominates the list with models like the Cadillac Escalade.

The significant exception is Ford, which didn’t place a single model on the list of dubious honor.

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