Genesis, Hyundai's nascent luxury brand, topped J.D. Power and Associates' latest Initial Quality Study — and Hyundai itself, plus affiliated brand Kia, filled out the podium. At the other end, two affiliated brands came up at the bottom: Jaguar and sister brand Land Rover ranked Nos. 30 and 31, respectively, on J.D. Power's 31-brand ranking.
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Still, 21 of those 31 brands saw quality improvements from 2017 to 2018, J.D. Power notes.
The study measures problems experienced in the first 90 days of new-car ownership, based this year on a 233-question survey from nearly 76,000 owners of 2018 model-year cars. Overall problems, expressed as "problems per 100 vehicles" or PP100, averaged 93 PP100 for 2017 — down from 97 in the 2017 IQS.
IQS measures problems both in terms of things that break and aspects owners simply dislike. The Porsche 911, a frequent IQS awardee, ranked as the most problem-free car for 2018 with just 48 PP100. That's the best score for any individual model in the current iteration of IQS, the firm said.
Jaguar and Land Rover, sister brands under India's Tata Motors, had opposite results: 148 PP100 for Jaguar and 160 PP100 for Land Rover. Both trailed third-lowest-ranked Volvo (122 PP100) considerably.
Here's how each brand ranked:
2018 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study
1. Genesis: 68 problems per 100 vehicles
2. Kia: 72
3. Hyundai: 74
4. Porsche: 79
5. Ford: 81
6. Chevrolet: 82
7. Lincoln: 83
8. Lexus: 84
9. Ram: 84
10. Nissan: 85
11. BMW: 87
12. Cadillac: 90
13. Mini: 90
14. Infiniti: 92
15. Mercedes-Benz: 92
Industry Average: 93
16. Buick: 95
17. Jeep: 96
18. Toyota: 96
19. Dodge: 98
20. Acura: 99
21. GMC: 99
22. Mazda: 100
23. Honda: 102
24. Volkswagen: 103
25. Audi: 105
26. Chrysler: 111
27. Mitsubishi: 111
28. Subaru: 115
29. Volvo: 122
30. Jaguar: 148
31. Land Rover: 160
"Some vehicle owners are still finding problems," Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at the firm, said in a statement. "As vehicles become more complex and automated, it is critical that consumers have complete confidence in automakers' ability to deliver fault-free vehicles."
A frequent source of problems for IQS — multimedia systems — saw improvement for the third consecutive year as consumers reported fewer problems with voice-recognition systems, according to the firm. Problems with driver-assistance technology, however, are on the rise. J.D. Power notes that although that category still only represents a sliver of overall problems, it's increased about 20 percent a year over the past three years. As self-driving features proliferate among today's cars, it's something to keep an eye on.
"Avoiding problems with safety and driver assistance technology is critical," Sargent said. "In an era of increasingly automated vehicles, vehicle owners have to be comfortable using foundational technologies like lane keep assistance and collision avoidance. Otherwise, automakers will not easily overcome consumer resistance to fully automated (driverless) cars."
Here are the segment winners for initial quality, all for the 2018 model year:
- Small Car: Kia Rio
- Small Premium Car: Acura ILX
- Compact Car: Toyota Corolla
- Compact Premium Car: BMW 4 Series
- Mid-size Car: Nissan Altima
- Mid-size Sporty Car: Ford Mustang
- Minivan: Dodge Grand Caravan
- Mid-size Premium Car: Lincoln Continental
- Large Car: Nissan Maxima
- Large Premium Car: Genesis G90
- Small SUV: Hyundai Tucson
- Small Premium SUV: BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class (tie)
- Compact SUV: Buick Envision
- Compact Premium SUV: Lincoln MKC
- Mid-size SUV: Kia Sorento
- Mid-size Premium SUV: BMW X6
- Mid-size Pickup: Nissan Frontier
- Large SUV: Ford Expedition
- Large Light-Duty Pickup Truck: Chevrolet Silverado 1500
- Large Heavy-Duty Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500 and Ford Super Duty (tie)
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