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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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