The results from J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 Initial Quality Survey (IQS) are in, and for the second year in a row, Lexus is the highest-ranked brand with an average of 73 problems per 100 vehicles (73 PP100). Overall, the survey shows a 5-percent increase in initial quality across the auto industry, but also shows that quality of tech features continue to be a problem.
IQS By AutomakerIQS is an annual survey that polls buyers of new cars after 90 days of ownership. Between February and May of this year, 74,000 2012-model-year purchasers and lessees answered a 228-question survey about their vehicles.The IQS survey crowns 21 winners in various categories this year, and also acknowledges the assembly plants that produce the highest-scoring vehicles. This year marks the 26th IQS, and J.D. Power reports 26 of the 34 brands included in the survey improved their scores from 2011, while five others declined and one retained the same score (two others weren’t included in the 2011 study). Tied for second place behind Lexus is Jaguar and Porsche, each scoring 75 PP100. Jaguar’s score represents the largest improvement of the survey, with problems reduced by 39 PP100 – good enough for a significant jump in rank from last year’s 20th place. Cadillac was third with 80 PP100, while Honda rounded out the top five automakers in fourth place with a score of 83 PP100.
Specific Vehicle WinsWithin the 21 segmentsof the study, Ford and Lexus had the most wins at three each. The Lexus RX was highest-ranked in the midsize premium crossover/SUV class, and also took home wins for entry premium car and large premium car with the ES 350 and LS, respectively. Ford took home the win in the large car category with the Ford Taurus, and earned top honors in the midsize sporty car class with the Mustang. The Ford Expedition was the highest-ranked large crossover/SUV.
Infiniti topped two categories in 2012, including the midsize premium car class with the Infiniti M, and the entry premium crossover/SUV class with the EX. The GMC Sierra LD was the highest-ranked large pickup, while the Nissan Frontier was number-one in the midsize pickup category. The Chevy Malibu ranked highest in the competitive midsize car category, ahead of Ford Fusion and Honda Accord, which tied for second. The Honda CR-V was on top in the compact crossover/SUV class, followed by the Toyota RAV4.
Industry TrendsOther findings from the study revealed that 65 percent of the 185 models ranked in the 2011 and 2012 IQS study improved their score. Quality of all-new or redesigned models improved by 12 percent over 2011, with 11 outperforming their segment average. Though most areas improved in initial quality from last year, audio, entertainment, and navigation problems rose by 8 percent. Since 2006, problems in this category have increased 45 percent, while problems in others are down by an average of 24 percent.
J.D. Power says that owners reported more problems involving audio, navigation, and entertainment systems than in any other area – a first in the survey’s 26-year history. This might have something to do with the rapid pace of advancing technology, which has brought such features as voice recognition and Bluetooth connectivity to mainstream models. J.D. Power reports that 80 percent of owners indicated that their new vehicle had hands-free capability, and that owner-reported problems involving factory-installed hands-free devices have risen 137 percent in the last four years.
“As smartphones become ubiquitous in the lives of consumers and are ever-more sophisticated, expectations about the complementary technologies being offered in new models will only get higher,” said vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power David Sargent. “However, the most innovative technology in the world will quickly create dissatisfaction if owners can’t get it to work.”
See the full breakdown of the 2012 IQS rankings below.
Sub-Compact CarHighest Ranked: Toyota Yaris
Compact CarHighest Ranked: Toyota Corolla
Compact Sporty CarHighest Ranked: Mazda MX-5 Miata
Compact Premium Sporty Car*Highest Ranked: Volvo C70
Entry Premium CarHighest Ranked: Lexus ES 350
Midsize Premium CarHighest Ranked: Infiniti M-Series
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan/Wagon
Midsize Sporty Car*Highest Ranked: Ford Mustang
Large Premium CarHighest Ranked: Lexus LS
Midsize CarHighest Ranked: Chevrolet Malibu
Ford Fusion (tie)
Honda Accord (tie)
Large CarHighest Ranked: Ford Taurus
Chrysler 300 Series
Premium Sporty*Highest Ranked: Porsche 911
BMW 6 Series
Compact Crossover/SUVHighest Ranked: Honda CR-V
Toyota FJ Cruiser
Compact MPV*Highest Ranked: Kia Soul
Toyota Prius v
Entry Premium Crossover/SUVHighest Ranked: Infiniti EX-Series
Midsize Crossover/SUVHighest Ranked: Buick Enclave
Honda Pilot (tie)
Jeep Grand Cherokee (tie)
Nissan Murano (tie)
Toyota Highlander (tie)
Large Crossover/SUVHighest Ranked: Ford Expedition
Midsize Premium Crossover/SUVHighest Ranked: Lexus RX
Large Premium Crossover/SUVHighest Ranked: Cadillac Escalade
Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Large PickupHighest Ranked: GMC Sierra LD
Chevrolet Silverado HD
Chevrolet Avalanche (tie)
Nissan Titan (tie)
Midsize Pickup*Highest Ranked: Nissan Frontier
MinivanHighest Ranked: Nissan Quest
*No other model in this segment performs above the segment average.
Source: J.D. Power and Associates