By on June 22, 2009

And we don’t care. Again. Still. If there’s a more nebulous concept out there than “initial quality,” we’re not aware of it. Check minus.

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27 Comments on “JD Power Initial Quality Survey 2009 Arrives...”

  • avatar

    Again, Milan get’s nod, but Fusion does not. It’s like they are not made by the same people at the same factory from the same components. Must have to do something with people who opt to buy them.

  • avatar

    This is the least revealing, and most overrated ‘quality indicator’ in the world.

    It has more to do with how much people love their new car when it’s still new than anything else.

    How many people don’t love their new car in the first 3 months?


  • avatar

    People say they don’t care right up until they use surveys like these to lord Toyonda’s dominance over GMsler.

  • avatar

    Initial quality? I have my own eyes for that. I only care about long term durability and reliability. They don’t measure 7 and 10 year old cars reliability. I think less and less people put any stock in these JD Powers claptrap awards.

  • avatar

    I would like to add one of my most hated TOP car list…
    USNews and World Report.
    Between JDP, USN&WR and CR, I am not sure which gets the most stupid and useless award.
    Absolute nonesense.

  • avatar

    My first car (may the POS rust in Ford Hell!) was good for its first three years. Then it disintegrated.

  • avatar

    There’s lots of chest-thumping about this over at

    Congratulations, GM, you finally read the instructions and figured out how to assemble your own cars. We’re so proud.

  • avatar

    Milan has a better powertrain than Fusion? Reminds me of the time in the 90’s when Mazda MX-6 and Ford Probe were both assembled at Flat Rock on the same platform with the same powertrain, and the MX-6 got way better repair ratings from CR in almost all categories, including engine and suspension.

    Oh, and either Fusion or Milan gets better powertrain ratings than the Mazda6? G6 is second overall? I rented that POS last year and wouldn’t recommend it to an enemy. Couldn’t wait to get rid of it after five days.

    I’ve never looked at the detail of these ratings before, and now I know I’ll only look at them if I want a good laugh.

  • avatar

    Anyone who has ever worked with J.D. Power knows they are unethical frauds. They design meaningless surveys, then sell their consulting services to tell you how to game their system. Once you’ve figured it out, which takes about three years, they change the survey to lower everyone’s scores and the cycle begins anew. None of the OEMs have top managers courageous enough to expose them. (And to Bimmer above, you got it exactly right: the surveys tell you a lot more about how critical a brand’s owners are than they tell you about the cars. How else have Buick, Cadillac, and Mercury done so well? Their owners are just glad they can still hold pencils to fill out the form.)

  • avatar

    Most every vehicle sold, domestic or import,is wonderfull when brand new. C.R, JD Power the top ten lists the whole freaking works of them. In the imortal words of my former boss are all a “crock of shit”

  • avatar

    Bimmer – I think you are spot on with the comment on it depending on the people who buy them.

    One thing my dealership had to learn after adding Lincoln-Mercury to the store (it was previously only Ford) is that Lincoln customers are different from Ford customers. The same salespeople were getting very good survey scores from Ford customers, but less than stellar from Lincoln. We were following the same procedures for all of our customers, but it took a bit to realize that Lincoln customers just require more ass kissing.

    A customer buying an Edge which ends up having a missing cup-holder liner or antennae (because some miscreant stole it while it was on the lot) or a slight blemish in the paint from someone dinging it with a door is usually pretty relaxed about us ordering the part or setting up an appointment at the body shop to have the problem dealt with. A Lincoln customer on an MKX is likely to raise hell at the same issues.

    What I find interesting though is that Lexus scores higher than Toyota, and from my experience Lexus owners are about the biggest anal retentive assholes we get on the lot. I suppose Lexus might have strict controls on their lots to make sure every car is perfect before delivery, or it could just be that most Lexus owners drink the kool-aid and overlook any little problems because, hey, its a Lexus, what could be wrong?

    Donkensler – For the current models while the Milan and Fusion are identical, and share all powertrain components except for the optional 3.5 liter V6 availible only in the Fusion Sport, the Mazda6, while sharing the Milan and Fusion’s 2.5 liter 4 cylinder, uses the 3.7 liter V6 from the Lincoln MKS and does not offer the 3.0 or the 3.5 from the Fusion.

  • avatar

    Actually, they can be accurate once in awhile. For Instance……….In Europe, JD Powers has for initial quality for new cars, Fiat in dead last with about 25 other makes. This is the Company that has merged with the overall quality of Chrysler, the blind leading the blind.

  • avatar

    The only relevance as to “initial quality” in regards to any product that enters my mind at the moment is toilet paper.

  • avatar

    I was recently informed that Nissan no longer buys survey results from J.D. Power.

  • avatar

    On a continuum that runs from sour grapes to tickled pink, colour me tickled.

    I am a self-professed car guy who recently ditched Honda, Nissan and Toyota in favour of Hyundai, and I’ve been bragging ever since that my Santa Fe is the most solid, reliable vehicle I have ever owned. Mouth-breathers sneer when I say this, but Hyundai’s showing on this survey feels like a vindication of sorts.

    While I can think of a million reasons why these surveys are of limited informational value, I must concede that the “initial quality” of most cars I have owned actually was a pretty good indicator of what was to follow over the next 4 or 5 years. This is as long as I keep my cars, so what do I care about some good old boy’s ’68 Chevy which is still running, or the ’94 Camry with 700,000 miles on the original engine? And what do I care about resale? My 5-year lease came with a 42% guaranteed residual value… better than the average Lexus.

    Maybe – just maybe – JD Power does release the occasional nugget of useful information.

  • avatar

    Hyundai is offering 5 year leases on a Sante Fe with a 42% residual? Either there is a typo there, or Hyundai is seriously subsidizing leases, which means some bigtime financial hardship in the future.

    Assuming current models depreciate at about the same rate as older ones, and assuming AWD models with 12000 miles a year, so 72000 miles for either model, a 2004 Sante Fe has a trade in value of about $5000, with a current price of 25000 for a GLS, that is a residual of about 20%. A Lexus RX current sells for about 40,000 for an AWD, and a 2004 model has a value of about 13,000, for a residual of about 33%.

  • avatar

    I was a valet nine years ago for a summer. Observational data concurs on the Lexus owners’ mentality archetype.

  • avatar

    The differences between brands are not large enough for anyone buying a single car to detect them.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    I’m trying to understand Michael Karesh’s point. Does he mean that in certain instances, one won’t be able to detect the differences between an Accord and a Camry? That seems unlikely. Perhaps he wants to say that one example is always insufficient evidence to allow for any meaningful conclusions? He’s an extremely clear writer, but in this case, I’m confused.

  • avatar

    Why, because Ford and Chevy are only 1 or 2 points behind beloved Toyota and AHEAD of Nissan, Acura (a Honda brand BTW), Scion (a Toyota brand), Infiniti, etc. Or that Hyundai beat them all? Hmmm.

    Admittedly, it’s not the end-all-be-all of surveys, but the name of the survey is honest, it’s the ignorance of some that confuses the issue.

    It’s a survey that really measures the “little things”. As anyone who is involved in the auto industry knows, when the “little things” are done right, it is likely that the “big things” are done right too. Except if you are Volkswagen.

  • avatar


    Definitely some subsidizing going there, although it appears to have abated in 2009s. (I actually leased an ’08 just over a year ago.)

    Sure, this is risky for Hyundai. But to stay on topic here, my point is simply this: When considered in conjunction with other anecdotal evidence, such as an automaker’s willingness to inflate warranties and leasing residuals, a rising JD Power score just might have meaning after all. It just needs a little context.

  • avatar

    It’s a survey that really measures the “little things”. As anyone who is involved in the auto industry knows, when the “little things” are done right, it is likely that the “big things” are done right too.

    Agreed. My experience has been that a car which is well screwed-together and reliable in the first few months generally remains that way for awhile longer. Nobody – not even JD Power – is suggesting anything more.

  • avatar

    Here is an interesting study of dependability as measured in terms of longevity from November 2007….

    It measures longevity in terms of the percentage of cars by brand still on the roads x years after they were sold…. It goes back as far as 20 years.

    It’s worth reading rather than just skipping straight to the charts.

    Very interesting. It’s important to note, as the authors recognize, that there’s more to vehicle survival than just raw quality. The “anal-retentive” (my phrase not theirs) maintenance of Lexus owners shows up…. and that shows up on all the luxury makes.

    Still, whatever the reason Porsches, Lexus’, and SAABs survive, survive they do. Additionally when you get down to the “ordinary cars level: it shows that although there have been great strides by the Domestics, the Japanese makes are still more long-lived.

  • avatar

    Lokkii, thanks for the article — an interesting read.

    One variable not part of the report is mileage. Porsche is on the top of the list due to the fact that their owners have one or two other cars and don’t put a lot of miles on “their baby”. I’m guessing a 20 year-old Porsche has fewer miles than a 10 year-old Toyota. It would be interesting to compare longevity and dependability from a mileage rather than a time perspective.


    Lokkii :
    June 23rd, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Here is an interesting study of dependability as measured in terms of longevity from November 2007….

  • avatar

    I agree that the mileage factor is very significant here, as is that supposed intangible “desirability”. People with Porsches want to take good care of them.

    I think that it’s better to throw out the outliers in the data sample….

  • avatar

    Here is an interesting study of dependability as measured in terms of longevity

    No, it’s an interesting list of cars ranked by replacement cost.

    If a ten-year-old Porsche needs a transmission, it gets a transmission and goes on to become the most dependable car on the road. But if a ten-year old Lada needs a transmission, it gets parked at the bottom of a lake.

    This is not about dependability or durability; it is Economics 101.

  • avatar

    Reminds me of the time in the 90’s when Mazda MX-6 and Ford Probe were both assembled at Flat Rock on the same platform with the same powertrain, and the MX-6 got way better repair ratings from CR in almost all categories, including engine and suspension…

    How true. Back in the day, sometimes I would say I bought an MX-6 instead of a Probe GT for fun to see if there was truth to this. True, indeed. The overall reaction for the MX-6 was way better that for the Ford. So perception (sorry guys) does play a part. Now, this is from many years ago, so one could argue that the D3 have had plenty of time to make the perception go away and they haven’t. Fair enough, but there is a reason (as posted by Bimmer and others) that oddities occur and when the product is virtually identical, it is either from the survey itself or the predisposition of the people being surveyed. Seems to me the best data would come from the manufacturers’ warranty records. Note that nobody wants to release that information.

    Don1967: You totally nailed this one. What determines which cars are registered the longest or have the most miles often have more to do with money than anything else. A good example would be an old Taurus and an old Accord. At 140K or so, it is safe to say either car may be ready for a transmission rebuild. But with the steep depreciation curve, the bull is likely to be sitting in the junkyard with 130K displayed, whereas the Accord is likely to get that trans rebuild. So, it will be on the road for another 5 years and heads to the boneyard displaying a proud 248K. And that is pure economics; it has nothing to do with long term durability.

    JD Power clearly states that a high Initial Quality score indicates a clear relationship to long term satisfaction. Is that really true? My intuition and experience suggests not. I recall my father’s ’84 Chrysler NewYorker with the “silent shaft” Mitsubishi 2.6 litre engine. This car, for the first eighteen months had chronic failures one after another. And not just your typical stuff like $700 Mikuni carbs. The digi dash, the radio, power seat tracks, struts, bushings, and on and on. Yet after all this stuff was repaired, the car became rock solid in terms of reliability. We gave it away with over 100K on it, and the relative we gave it to used if for another 5 years with minimal fuss. Not exactly what JDP would suggest…

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