Korean brands top latest J.D. Power new-car quality study

June 20, 2018

A study released Wednesday by J.D. Power found that while the number of problems reported by new-car drivers during the first year of ownership declined last year, consumers continue to find fault with advanced connectivity features in their vehicles.

In the 2018 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, Genesis came in first place with 68 problems reported per 100 vehicles surveyed, while Kia with 72, Hyundai with 74, Porsche with 79, and Ford with 81 rounded out the top five.

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At the bottom of the chart, Land Rover came in last place with 160 problems per 100 vehicles followed by Jaguar with 148, Volvo with 122, Subaru with 115, and both Chrysler and Mitsubishi with 111.

2018 Porsche 911

2018 Porsche 911

Overall, the new car with the lowest number of problems was the Porsche 911 with 48 problems per vehicle surveyed. J.D. Power did not say what the most problematic car reported was. In its Initial Quality Study, J.D. Power groups together both defects—a part that needed to be repaired or replaced—and design-related problems such as difficulty pairing a phone to the car's Bluetooth system.

Although J.D. Power found that consumer complaints over voice recognition and Bluetooth pairing declined, they remain the most common issues new-car owners have. On average, those surveyed reported 97 problems per 100 vehicles. Fewer than 5 problems per 100 vehicles could be traced to active-safety gear such as automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, and active cruise control, but J.D. Power said that as those features become more commonplace, the number of complaints has risen.

J.D. Power looked exclusively at 2018 model-year vehicles that had been owned or leased for at least three months before an eight-category, 233-question survey was conducted between February and May 2018. J.D. Power said that it surveyed 75,712 owners and lessees.

Here's a look at the highest-ranked models for initial quality in each segment categorized by J.D. Power:

  • Small car: Kia Rio
  • Compact car: Toyota Corolla
  • Small premium car: Acura ILX
  • Compact premium car: BMW 4-Series
  • Mid-size car: Nissan Altima
  • Mid-size premium car: Lincoln Continental
  • Mid-size sporty car: Ford Mustang
  • Minivan: Dodge Grand Caravan
  • 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: Chevrolet Silverado
  • Large heavy-duty pickup: Chevrolet Silverado/Ford Super Duty (tie)

J.D. Power used its findings to determine which car assembly plants had the least number of defects per vehicle, a figure that doesn't include complaints such as difficulty operating an infotainment system. At the top of the heat was the an assembly plant in Japan that builds the Toyota Land Cruiser and Lexus LX 570. The highest-rated plant in the U.S. was the Georgetown, Kentucky, Toyota plant that builds the automaker's Lexus ES.

Notably, J.D. Power also called out a GM plant in China that builds the Buick Envision crossover SUV. With just 17 problems per 100 vehicles, the plant ranked among the best in the survey.

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