2012 J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey Reveals Lexus at the Top, Jaguar and Porsche Tie For Second

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 Automaker

IQS 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 Wins

Within 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 Trends

Other 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 Car

Highest Ranked: Toyota Yaris

Honda Fit

Mazda MAZDA2

Compact Car

Highest Ranked: Toyota Corolla

Toyota Prius

Honda Civic

Compact Sporty Car

Highest Ranked: Mazda MX-5 Miata

Volkswagen Eos

Scion tC

Compact Premium Sporty Car*

Highest Ranked: Volvo C70

Mercedes-Benz E-Class


Entry Premium Car

Highest Ranked: Lexus ES 350

Acura TL

Lincoln MKZ

Midsize Premium Car

Highest Ranked: Infiniti M-Series

Lincoln MKS

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan/Wagon

Midsize Sporty Car*

Highest Ranked: Ford Mustang

Dodge Challenger

Large Premium Car

Highest Ranked: Lexus LS

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Porsche Panamera

Midsize Car

Highest Ranked: Chevrolet Malibu

Ford Fusion (tie)

Honda Accord (tie)

Large Car

Highest Ranked: Ford Taurus

Toyota Avalon

Chrysler 300 Series

Premium Sporty*

Highest Ranked: Porsche 911

BMW 6 Series

Compact Crossover/SUV

Highest Ranked: Honda CR-V

Toyota RAV4

Toyota FJ Cruiser

Compact MPV*

Highest Ranked: Kia Soul

Toyota Prius v

Entry Premium Crossover/SUV

Highest Ranked: Infiniti EX-Series

Acura RDX

Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

Midsize Crossover/SUV

Highest Ranked: Buick Enclave

Honda Crosstour

Honda Pilot (tie)

Jeep Grand Cherokee (tie)

Nissan Murano (tie)

Toyota Highlander (tie)

Large Crossover/SUV

Highest Ranked: Ford Expedition

GMC Yukon

Chevrolet Tahoe

Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV

Highest Ranked: Lexus RX

Infiniti FX-Series

Cadillac SRX

Large Premium Crossover/SUV

Highest Ranked: Cadillac Escalade

Infiniti QX56

Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Large Pickup

Highest Ranked: GMC Sierra LD

Chevrolet Silverado HD

Chevrolet Avalanche (tie)

Nissan Titan (tie)

Midsize Pickup*

Highest Ranked: Nissan Frontier

Honda Ridgeline


Highest Ranked: Nissan Quest

Honda Odyssey

Toyota Sienna

*No other model in this segment performs above the segment average.


Source: J.D. Power and Associates

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