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America’s Highest-Quality Vehicles

The top-ranked models, by segment, in the 2015 J.D. Power IQS,

by on Jun.18, 2015

Porsche captured the top spot in J.D. Power's most recent Initial Quality Survey. The Boxster is the top choice in the compact sporty car category.

While fuel economy, design and performance are three of the factors that heavily influence the vehicles Americans choose when they go to the showroom, quality is often the deciding factor. The good news is that today’s cars, trucks and crossovers deliver better quality than ever, according to the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Study.

Just two decades ago, the average vehicle was likely to suffer from as many as three to four “problems” during the first 90 days of ownership, early surveys revealed. But in the latest Power IQS, that’s down to barely one. And among the best models, many owners may find nothing to complain about at all while even the worst vehicles today would have been at the top of the chart at the turn of the Millennium.

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The 2015 Initial Quality Survey delivered some big surprises. For one thing, Kia was the second-ranked brand overall, behind only Porsche, and ahead of all the traditionally high-quality Japanese makers. Hyundai, at fourth, also led traditional quality benchmarks Lexus, Toyota and Honda. But which individual models topped the chart? (more…)

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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Mercedes ML is the “Ideal Vehicle,” Says New Study

Ford best maker at targeting customers – despite quality issues.

by on Aug.15, 2013

The Mercedes-Benz ML was the highest-scoring model in the new Ideal Vehicle study.

If any single vehicle nails what American motorists want most, it’s the Mercedes-Benz ML luxury crossover, or so says the latest in a series of annual studies by California-based AutoPacific, Inc., designed to identify the most ideal vehicles on the market.

The Ideal Vehicle study emphasizes what industry types like to call “things-gone-right,” rather than “things-gone-wrong.” Motorists, it suggests, are willing to suffer through the occasional defect if a vehicle delivers enough surprise-and-delight features such as great design, good interior space, unexpected performance or the latest in high-tech equipment.

According to that formula, the top premium brand is Porsche, with Chrysler’s Ram taking the lead among mainstream brands. Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co. vehicles led in four individual product segments, more than any other brand, noted AutoPacific founder and lead analyst George Peterson.

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“That means they are doing the best at targeting customers’ needs,” Peterson said, despite the hits Ford has taken in recent quality-based studies. The Detroit maker has had some well-publicized problems with its Sync and MyFordTouch infotainment technologies, while small back seats in models like the Focus and Fusion sedans have also generated criticism.

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Detroit Makers Dominate New Quality Survey

But “the challenge” will be getting import buyers to notice.

by on May.15, 2013

The new Dodge Dart drives off with a win in the latest Total Quality Index.

After long lagging their import rivals in terms of quality and reliability, Detroit makers have begun closing the gap in recent years – and a new study suggests that domestic models may even be taking the lead in many key market segments.

Motown manufacturers led or at least tied for the lead in 12 of 21 categories in Strategic Vision’s closely watched Total Quality Index, products like the Ford Fusion and Dodge Dart besting traditional import stalwarts such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Civic.

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“There’s no questioning domestic car makers want to lead,” said Alexander Edwards, President of Strategic Vision. “For the first time in over a decade our comprehensive and complete study of Quality resulted in more domestic winners than imports.”

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Lexus Tops Vehicle Dependability Study – But GM Narrows Gap

Today’s cars, in general, are lasting longer than ever.

by on Feb.13, 2013

The Lexus RX350 tops its segment in the VDS.

Today’s vehicles are more reliable than ever, according to a new study, though Lexus remains the king when it comes to long-term dependability.

Nonetheless, the gap between import and domestic brands continues to close, with General Motors giving close chase to Toyota and its luxury brand Lexus, finds the J.D. Power and Associates’ 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study.

“The continuous improvement in long-term dependability means consumers should have more confidence in three-year-old vehicles, whether they are keeping their current vehicle or shopping for a used car, truck, crossover or SUV,” says David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates, or JDPA.

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Based on the responses from 37,000 owners of 2010-model cars, trucks and crossovers, the annual study shows that the number of problems being reported has fallen five percent since the previous report, known by the shorthand VDS.  On average, there were 126 problems for every 100 vehicles, or 126 PP100 in Power-speak, down from 132 in the 2012 study.  That’s the lowest figure since Power launched the widely-quoted measure of vehicle reliability in 1989.

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Quality Makes Big Gains, Says JD Power, But Tech Headaches Worsen

High-tech issues now the most serious issue for most manufacturers.

by on Jun.20, 2012

The newly redesigned Porsche 911 posted the best score in the history of the IQS.

Forget the flats, the rattles and wind noise, even the balky transmissions.  These days, the biggest headache for a new car buyer is likely to be the voice controlled infotainment system.

The good news is that the latest crop of new cars, trucks and crossovers are “better than ever,” according to the 2012 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study.  But while manufacturers have largely overcome the defects and malfunctions that traditionally plagued buyers, motorists are experiencing more issues with the latest in-car technologies, such as voice-controlled navigation and Bluetooth hands-free phones.

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The annual IQS asks owners to report on both defects and design-related issues during the first months after they’ve driven their new products home.  On average, the 2012 study found an average 102 “problems” for every 100 new vehicles.  That’s down from 107 “PP100” in 2011, to use Power-speak.

“This is, without doubt, the best level of quality we’ve ever seen,” noted Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates, or JDPA.

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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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