By David Thomas on June 22, 2011
Newly introduced models have 10% more problems than they did last year, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ Initial Quality Study. The study points to advanced technology systems causing confusion among buyers. New engines geared to fuel efficiency over performance are also a cause of consumer ire, the company says.
J.D. Power’s controversial Initial Quality Study measures problems in the first 90 days of ownership. It causes a furor among automotive observers because many of the issues raised by those surveyed deal with how things work and if they work intuitively, not solely that they don’t work at all as a dependability study would measure. However, the Initial Quality Study still is a measure of how buyers are reacting to their new cars and whether they’re saying good or bad things about them to friends and families.
Meanwhile, models that are basically the same as the previous model year have improved five points this year to their lowest mark ever of 103 problems per 100 vehicles, which is down from 108 last year.
When you look at which models lead their respective segments, almost all of them have been on the market in their current design for a few years.
The top brand in the study, Lexus, it should be noted, has no all-new models included in the study. Honda and Acura follow Lexus, and they also have few all-new models.
Conversely, Ford, which finished fifth in last year’s study, fell to 23rd this year. The company has been rolling out new models left and right, helping its bottom line but perhaps damaging its ranking. All of its new vehicles like the Fiesta, Edge and Explorer feature both advanced tech and miserly engines. The Edge’s and Explorer’s multimedia systems have caused concerns for us as well as Consumer Reports. However, all three cars are strong sellers.
Ford’s fall in the rankings also illustrates why there is such debate about the study’s relevance.
Only two domestic brands were listed in the top 10, landing above the industry average of 107 problems per 100 vehicles.
We list the top brands and models below supplied by J.D. Power.
2011 Nameplate IQS Ranking: Problems per 100 vehicles
Top Three Models per Segment
Compact Sporty Car
Compact Premium Sporty Car*
Entry Premium Car
Midsize Premium Car
Midsize Sporty Car*
Large Premium Car
Entry Premium Crossover/SUV
Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV
Large Premium Crossover/SUV
NOTE: For a segment award to be issued there must be at least three models with sufficient sample that comprise 80% of market sales within an award segment. There were only two premium sporty models with sufficient sample size, thus no premium sporty award has been issued.
*No other model in this segment performs above the segment average.
Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David