A Miracle Happens: GM Makes Top Quality Cars

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
a miracle happens gm makes top quality cars

J.D. Power published its 2013 Initial Quality Study IQS, and a miracle happened: Chevrolet jumped 10 spots to number 5. The GMC brand even sits in #2. In the real world, that puts GMC and Chevrolet in Place 2, along with Lexus and Infiniti.

When I interpreted these results in the olden days to a client, I told them not to read too much into the actual ranking. Place 6 and 16 are less than 7 percent apart, which is probably close to the precision of these studies.

I see six places, and they are on the chart. Others may see more.

The rankings have to be taken with even more than the usual grain of salt, because quality improved drastically. J.D. Power had to make new rules to stay in business. Only a third of the problems measured are actual malfunctions. Most of them are gripes, “because it may be difficult to understand or operate” a part of the car, as J,D. Power says.

An entertainment system that needs a little getting used to can send a car to the bottom rungs of the study. Brands that have a high rate of conquests are especially susceptible, as customers need to re-learn clicks and buttons.

All of GM’s brands, including Cadillac and Buick, performed better than the industry average. GM cars and trucks won eight top prizes as the best vehicles in their segments.

Probably very shockingly for Toyota, its Scion brand is in the dead last spot. This will cause serious discussions in Toyota-shi. I remember when Volkswagen was close to that spot, and there weren’t enough fingers in Wolfsburg to supply the massive finger-pointing. Surprisingly, it was no career killer: Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn was head of quality assurance in those dark days. He was promoted to head of R&D and later to CEO.

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  • Segfault Segfault on Jun 24, 2013

    As others have noted, IQS is a worthless metric. The VDS tracks repairs over 3 years and is more useful. I'd be more interested in a metric which tracks repairs (and cost of repairs) for the first 24-48 months *after* the warranty expires.

  • Art  Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jun 24, 2013

    Wow, so what this is saying to me is that if I want a 4x4, I am better off with a Land Rover than a Jeep. Awesome.

    • See 1 previous
    • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Jun 24, 2013

      Actually, it's saying that Land Rover owners bitch less than Jeep owners do. That's what IQS is really about. That's much more interesting and surprising.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jun 24, 2013

    This survey doesn't match my experiences. My 05 Scion xB was nearly perfect, and made exactly 1 unscheduled trip to the dealer in 7 years. Of course, I don't know what they've done since then. My 05 Odyssey was a lemon; it had 7 actual problems in its first week. My 12 Leaf has been perfect so far (8 months), quality-wise, but I hate the navigation system. I wouldn't give it bad marks for that. This metric seems tailor-made for mfrs to use as advertising fodder.

  • Phil Ressler Phil Ressler on Jun 25, 2013

    2006 Cadillac XLR-V: no problems not related to the driver embracing a 443hp car. Still driving it in 2013. Along the way, it has needed a supercharger tensioner, brake pads and tires. 2006 Cadillac CTS-V: no trouble at all. GM recalled the car for the rear pinion seal replacement. That was done, though the leak hadn't materialized. 2010 Cadillac CTS-V: no problems whatsoever. 2010 Cadillac SRX AWD 2.8L V6 Turbo: no problems whatsoever. 2013 Chevrolet Volt: A transmission control solenoid failed on day two of ownership. GM repaired this, and loaned me a Camaro during the shop time. No problems since. The car has been in every way stellar. 133 mpg lifetime average (since Dec 2013) as of today. I also had a 1996 Corvette LT4 for nearly a decade. At 90,000 miles it needed a new valve cover gasket, and a new battery at 107,000 miles. So none of this is surprising to me. It would be difficult to find cars more reliable in initial quality or sustained operation than the GM cars I've owned in the last 17 years. Phil