By on June 19, 2014

2013 Buick Encore, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

J.D. Power has released their U.S. Initial Quality Study for 2014, where General Motors, Hyundai and Porsche earned top marks despite consumers still struggling with the gizmology taking over their vehicles.

Autoblog reports GM’s Buick, Chevrolet and GMC captured more awards than anyone else in the 2014 IQS, with six vehicles winning in their segments. Meanwhile, Hyundai and Porsche were ranked best overall mass-market and premium brand, respectively, where the former reported 94 issues per 100 vehicles reported in the first 90 days, 74/100 for the latter. Porsche also dominated the IQS, having the best score of all brands surveyed.

On the other end of the scale, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles ranked poorly in the study, with Fiat holding dead last at 206 problems per 100 vehicles reported in the survey period. Jeep came second-to-last with 146/100, while Dodge was just below the industry average at 124/100. Only Ram and Chrysler fared the best, matching or just exceeding the average of 116/100.

Part of the results may be due to automakers pushing the envelope on technology and new features to make consumers’ lives easier. J.D. Power Vice President of Global Automotive David Sargent says “almost all automakers are struggling” to introduce these pieces “without introducing additional quality problems.” In turn, some consumers are noting the technologies involved are “hard to understand, difficult to use, or [do] not always work as designed.”

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49 Comments on “JD Power Initial Quality Study Shows GM, Hyundai, Porsche Leading The Pack...”


  • avatar
    chainyanker

    The initial quality of the banana I just threw away was good when I bought it. Maybe there’ll be a recall.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    It is interesting that Toyota is near the top, while Scion is near the bottom. Is the initial quality of Scion products *that* different than Toyota?

    Similar, but not quite as large, gaps exist between Chevrolet and Buick, Honda and Acura, and Chrysler and Dodge. In each case one brand is above average in IQS, while the other is below.

    It would be interesting to see what accounts for these differences.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      It would be interesting to find out. I was watching something about the Lexus IS factory and it had what seems like the latest and greatest quality control technology. I would bet there is somewhat more QC process an RX or ES plant vs a Avalon or Highlander plant.

      But, it would be interesting to hear if anyone knows the actual reason.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        That makes sense in the context of Lexus versus Toyota, especially since every Lexus model except the RX is assembled in Japan. However, the quality gap between Toyota and Scion shouldn’t be *that* high…unless one popular Scion model is disproportionately affecting the ratings.

      • 0 avatar
        DrGastro997

        I think one of the reasons is supplier base. Japanese transplants relocated to the US seem to be suffering in quality assurances and controls. Some Japanese suppliers were cut because they refused to relocate causing automakers to implement a completely new American supplier (good and bad). The JDP study isn’t quite surprising especially with the Porsche results. Porsche has added many Japanese suppliers (PDK trans by Aisin, lighting tech by Koito, aluminum die casts by Zexel, etc.) and it’s paying off for them in Germany. The supplier base dynamics are completely different here in the US, in my opinion.

      • 0 avatar
        Kinosh

        FRS accounts for 50% of Scion volume. There have been huge issues with headlamp/tailamp moisture fog.

        That’s 50% of the “real” (not just BT won’t connect or DTU navigation system) issues with the FRS right there.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      The FR-S hasn’t exactly helped Scion in this department.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Worth noting that the Scion products (xB, xD, tC, and FRS) come mostly from Japan – and a large number of other Toyota (not Lexus) products come from completely different factories in other parts of the world.

      That could have something to do with it. Scion has never fared well in the JD Power reviews.

      It also could be the owners – and if the brand is wrapped up, the well documented FRS issues (that every other quality report has called out) could be dragging the whole brand down.

      • 0 avatar
        epsilonkore

        Having owned a tC (bulletproof reliable) and a FR-S (Good but not as good as the tC, chirping fuel pump being my only issue.) I would say the MAIN issue with Scions judged by JDPower is they are almost ALL modified by their users or dealers to varying degrees. I would like to see how many people leave their monospec Scions exactly as they are from the factory, and see their JD Power results. Even the dealerships peddle 2nd party (and sometimes 3rd party) add ons as “standard options” to buyers. As far as core factory options go, you can choose your color or transmission, thats it, almost a perfect MonoSpec. The 2nd party (TRD) and 3rd party parts are often the problems that I have experienced, while the core of the vehicle has been as good as the Toyotas I owned. Floormats, arm rests, upgraded lighting, sound systems, superchargers, intake, exhaust… most of them not even made by Toyota/Scion/TRD. By the time JD power gets ahold of the owners, they may not all be able to separate the “factory experience” from the “modified experience” especially if they ordered it that way off the showroom floor. Not saying Scion is perfect, but it shouldn’t be THAT far from Toyota (or Subaru for that matter) in the ratings.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    I regard Power ratings to be worth what you pay for them.

    Power sells “research”. It would be nice to know which and what manufacturers pay them so we can see if it correlates to their ratings and if manufacturers are allowed to advertise such.*

    I noticed over at Autoblog comments are rather circumspect
    regarding their value.

    *according this site

    http://auto.howstuffworks.com/buying-selling/jd-power-ratings3.htm

    Power does allow awards to be advertised, for a “fee”.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    I never really got the initial quality survey idea. On the one hand, you have all this focus on an inordinately brief period at the beginning of ownership, while most buyers, I think, would be interested in how a vehicle is holding up after the first three-year honeymoon where most everything does reasonably well. My TDI has been 100% trouble free for its first 40,000 miles, but I sure would’t want to bet on the next 40,000. (And I won’t!) The larger point is that I’ve had zero problems in any car I’ve owned, over the last 20 years, for the first three months of my ownership. But later, sometimes all hell broke loose.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      I’ve heard that there is a strong statistical correlation between initial quality and long term reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Plus there is the problem that you’re not going to find out about the four-year quality of a new car until . . . . . four years from now. I don’t doubt it helps to have some kind of idea as to how well the car is screwed together when you’re first picking it up.

      And, as jmo mentioned, there is a correlation between initial quality and years down the road. It the factory can’t screw it together well when its built, what hope is there for it once the warranty runs out?

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Jeff Waingrow – JD Power “Initial Quality” looks at how intuitive various systems are to use as well as ergonomics. Fit and finish or more accurately, the perception of fit and finish come into play.
      If a sales department spends the extra time to explain the bells and whistles then that will improve initial Quality.

      JD Power also releases its “Dependability Study” which is based on actual problems requiring dealer visits over a 3 year span.

      I don’t put much weight on their Initial Quality study but if one considers all of the electronic gizmos built into a new vehicle it makes this study a more important tool.

      It is just one piece of the buying puzzle. You need to search for corroborating data from other sources like Consumer Reports, Vincentric etc.
      Data is useless if you can’t find supportive evidence.

  • avatar
    TorontoSkeptic

    I love it. After dozens of stories on the GM recall(s), a headline about GM leading the pack in quality.

    To be fair, GM circa 2014 is (hopefully) pretty different from the organization that was cranking out Saturn Ions 10 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Oddly those same 10 year old Ions, are still chugging along. Many folks that find them selves on the lower end of the socio economic scale, are getting great value, and service, from them old Saturns.

      • 0 avatar
        TorontoSkeptic

        To clarify I own a 2005 Pontiac (not with the ignition recall). Not piling on GM, it’s more the oddness of the news cycle… a million (justifiably) negative stories, and then it’s ridiculous to see “GM tops quality rating.”

    • 0 avatar
      CapVandal

      I’m happy for GM. Hope they publicize the hell out of it.

      A lot of negativity about GM on here.

      Don’t fix a defect early enough, they are evil.
      Recall a few million cars, and they have lousy quality, bring up issue 1 again.
      Say the Government should have let them go bankrupt. They did go bankrupt.

      I would LOVE to see GM become successful. It is an iconic American company, and I like the home team. OK, not quite ready to buy one, but I am looking at a Fusion 2.0T. First American car I seriously like in decades.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    For those who don’t know of True Delta, Michael Karesh ( who used to do very thorough car reviews on this site) runs a great website for tracking vehicle quality.

    I strongly suggest you give TrueDelta a try and support him by signing up your own vehicles for the research effort – it only takes 10 minutes/year. His data is far superior to what Power and Consumer Reports publish, because he tracks repair histories for years and years.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    While there may be a correlation between high initial quality and long term reliability, it seems to me that the IQS tends to get people who pick nits over things like infotainment, buttons, ergonomics, etc. That, in itself, doesn’t seem to be a harbinger of reliability.

    I use VW as an example. VW almost always scored high on the IQS reports because people loved the soft touch materials, layout and ergonomics of the car. However, over time we all know how things went….especially those fabled MK IVs.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “VW almost always scored high on the IQS reports”

      No it didn’t. Some quick googling shows it towards the bottom in the late 90s early 2000s.

      Example 1:

      http://cfile25.uf.tistory.com/image/112AF5014BB2B65B33C62C

  • avatar
    65corvair

    I’m more interested in how the cars do when they are 4 or 5 years old. Also by model, not brand.

    ’11 Fiesta, 17 problems and counting! Crap!

  • avatar
    Fred

    I asked in the forums, but I’ll ask here as well, what is the period for initial. I’m guessing 30 days. I’m also surprised at the number of “problems” Spent about 10 minutes being anal about my Acura Wagon and came up with 32. I think there are some pretty poor shoppers who buy a car with 100+ problems.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      It’s problems per 100 cars. So a 70 means that out of 100 cars 70 had a problem – on average.

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        Thanks, that makes more sense, but now I’m thinking of the 5 new cars I have had they all had at least one problem, especially if you are going to nit-pick.

        • 0 avatar
          Syke

          Of course, there’s also the issue of what constitutes a ‘problem’. To someone who buys a Chevrolet/Ford/Dodge/Toyota/etc. and then goes over it with a fine tooth comb expecting the perfection of a Rolls-Royce Ghost . . . . . that person is going to find lots of problems.

          To someone who isn’t bothered by the difference between 1/16″ and a 3/32″ gap in panels, or some other like imperfection, that car isn’t going to have nearly as many problems.

          Sometimes the problem is that customer is overly picky, and under reaslistic, regarding the price and class of car he bought.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    This is strange. BTS is very busy this morning responding to the Nissan Rouge review with more propaganda about how awesome MOPAR is. And he is all over the Lincoln in China issue, again telling us how wonderful Chrysler is.

    But over at the article about actual car quality, nothing. Complete SILENCE. I wonder why.

  • avatar
    alsorl

    I can see how Hyundai and GM are leading. I’ve owned a few hyundai’s over the years never had an issue. A I just rented a new Malibu LTZ. It was really a great ride, quiet, great mpgs, and just looked and felt perfectly put together. Probably one of the best sedans I’ve driven in the past 10 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I, too, don’t understand the ire thrown at the current Malibu. The rear is *a bit* cramped and they removed the electronic parking brake for 2014. That’s it. It doesn’t feel cheap to me, it drives just fine, and you can get one at an excellent price.

  • avatar
    JohnnyFirebird

    The initial quality survey is heavily influenced by the lack of comprehension of the gadgets. This is getting to be a big deal – I’ve watched salesmen try to explain touch screen controls and streaming audio to new owners in their seventies and eighties without success. It gets worse when essential elements are tied to virtual systems (like HVAC).

    A multi-label car company wouldn’t be wrong in keeping one brand with simple controls. They’d make a fortune selling to older buyers, whose money is just as good (probably better, really) than the younger generations.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    There will always be some sacrifice. Keeping a perfect balance between zero-defects and performance is impossible. I love my 911 Turbo and non-turbo but quality sucks. It performs but it breaks, alot. Porsche added more Japanese suppliers to their models (transmission&electronics) so it’s much better than before, but still too many problems related to the engine.

    • 0 avatar
      CapVandal

      I’m surprised that Porsche was ranked #1. Mostly because their owners are so emotionally involved with their car, they notice everything. Maybe it is the high end Dentists and uber soccer moms that cancel out the true enthusiasts.

      I’m not knocking Porsche owners. It happened to me, and I only bought used and years out of warranty.

  • avatar
    CapVandal

    And … does the defect have to be discovered and reported to the dealer to be considered a defect? Or is it totally self reported. Customer thinks they have a defect, they have a defect.

    If a dealer gets the car back in (for any reason) and then discovers/fixes it and the customer doesn’t notice or care, is it a defect?

    One example — that isn’t really analogous — is that I have an Acura with the infamous bad transmission. It was replaced twice by the dealer — but, amazingly enough — I never reported a problem.

    The first time, the dealer found it and fixed it. I was in a a turbo RDX before I could even think about it and picked my car up 2 days later. The second time, the dealer, during normal service again noticed some minor symptoms and suggested immediate replacement because the extended warranty was running out.

    I remember the Xenon headlight that cost north of $500 to fix. Transmission problems? Only with a feeling of fondness toward the dealer. The Acura dealer service department could replace a transmission in their sleep. As Malcolm Gladwell says — it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert.

    The point being, it not only has to be a defect, but perceived as a defect. My Acura dealer always follows up with an email and/or phone call to make sure I am TOTALLY SATISFIED.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      JD Power has a 200+ question survey. Owners complete the survey.

      As I noted above, JD Power’s definition of “quality” is not limited to repairs or equipment failure. Reliability comprises only half of the IQS score.

      • 0 avatar
        CapVandal

        I wouldn’t even read past the first page of a 200 question survey, much less fill one out.

        Seriously, that is not what I think of regarding quality — and I imagine most of the public doesn’t either. In my mind, quality is stuff that works as intended and bad quality is stuff that breaks.

        A mechanical breakdown on the road is the ultimate bad defect. I haven’t had one (other than flat tires and dead batteries) in recent memory. Back when I drove total beaters, it was part of the ultra cheap owners experience and simply another aspect of being broke.

        Happy to see GM win anything.

  • avatar
    formula m

    When ever I delivered a new vehicle I would have the customer repeat back to me that they are “completely satisfied” with the vehicle/sales process upon delivery. That is the only acceptable score according to the manufacturers lol. Anyways I would always have to say fill out the survey “completely satisfied” and just call me personally and I will get it fixed. I first learned that while working for GM… I think this practice is more widely used than advertised

  • avatar
    One Ton Soup

    Sigh…sadly Honda is slacking but still up top. But my experience with the 8th gen Civic(’08) left me rather disappointed. I’ll see if my experience with the ’13 Honda Civic Si is any better. So far so good.


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