By on June 22, 2016

JD Power

If you’re planning to buy a new vehicle this year, J.D. Power wants you to know you’ll probably happier in a Kia than a Porsche.

Well, maybe less annoyed. By the little things. On average. That’s one takeaway from the firm’s annual ranking of automotive brands based on consumer complaints logged during the first 90 days of ownership.

This year’s J.D. Power U.S. Initial Quality Study is good PR for many automakers, considering 21 of the 33 brands moved up in the rankings this year, including those in the Big Three. Domestic brands collectively recorded a lower problem tally than their foreign competition, a feat only accomplished one other time in the study’s three decade history.

Overall, initial quality rose six percent — the largest increase since 2009, a year many would like to forget. In another twist, non-premium brands outranked premium brands for the first time in a decade.

While the study is good news for domestic brands, especially Chrysler and Jeep (voted “most improved”), it’s fantastic, pound-the-table-and-laugh news for Kia. The Korean automaker ranked number one with 83 problems reported per 100 vehicles, ahead of Porsche’s 84.

This year, the two wildly dissimilar brands swapped places at the top of the list. You can almost hear Kia’s marketing team furiously typing.

Rounding out the top ten were Hyundai (3rd), Toyota (4th), BMW (5th), Chevrolet (6th), Buick (7th), Lexus (8th), Lincoln (9th) and Nissan (10th). Ford, GMC, Infiniti and Volkswagen were the only other brands to beat the industry average of 105 problems per 100 vehicles.

It was an especially bad year for Jaguar, which plummeted from third place in 2015 to 27th this year. The recently introduced F-Pace SUV and XE sedan arrived too late to be included in this year’s study.

Down in the segment rankings, the folks at Toyota can breathe a sigh of relief. The Corolla and Camry take the crown in the compact and midsize car categories, proving that the Earth is stable, on course, and hasn’t slipped off its axis.

The top two brands each captured two market segments apiece. Kia Sportage was the highest ranked small SUV, and the Soul the best compact MPV, while Porsche captured the compact premium SUV and midsize premium sporty car categories with the Macan and 911.

The study handed Chevrolet more ammo to use in its nasty battle against its better-selling full-size pickup rival. The Silverado ranked first in the large light duty pickup category, and the Silverado HD topped the large heavy duty pickup field.

[Image: Moto “Club4AG” Miwa/Flickr]

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60 Comments on “J.D. Power Initial Quality Study: Considering a Porsche? Kia’s the One You Want...”


  • avatar
    yamahog

    I’ll give this weight the day JD Powers seperate complaints about ‘excessive’ brake dust and misunderstandings of infotainment systems from drivetrains blowing up.

    I haven’t seen a single quality survey I like, but J.D powers is one of the ones I dislike the most because it seems to conflate owner’s perceptions of quality with the quality of the vehicle.

    1) No one buying a new car thinks their car sucks so there’s a bias

    2) Look no further than the Chevy commercials where people sit in a car with a leather interior and a nav screen and say Wow this must an Audi/BMW/Lexus/Mercedes. Are those perceptions of quality valid?

    IF so, I have some patent cures that you’ll want after you hear these testimonials.

    If I were king for a day, I’d go to the old school CR style stuff where you tied the failure rates with the dots – like a red dot for transmissions means fewer than 1% of transmissions blew up in the past year.

    What I’d really want to see is reliability broken out by
    1) What’s the chance that the car starts up?
    2) What’s the chance that the car gets you to your destination without a failure that strands you?
    3) What’s the maintaince cost to get it to 200k miles?
    4) What’s the expected value of repair costs to get it to 200k miles?

    A Chrysler 300 with broken power door locks is completely different from a Chrysler 200 with transmission issues.

    • 0 avatar
      MR2turbo4evr

      http://twocents.lifehacker.com/the-car-brands-with-the-highest-maintenance-costs-over-1781639773

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Yeah, that article is butt and so is YourMechanic.com. It’s all about what vehicles they have serviced. So if someone takes their vehicle to the dealership, or an indy mechanic that isn’t affiliated with this dumb site, it doesn’t show up as a data point.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I agree with bball here.

          Plus, I will add that JD Powers is a bull$hit, nearly worthless organization to anyone other than manufacturers, who are their real customers (not consumers), that JD Powers “initial quality” and “dependability” are built upon questionable metrics (the dependability factor JD Powers is really hore$hit and often in direct contravention of Consumer Reports much higher quality, much larger sample size survey and superior statistical methodology).

          JD Powers is a manufacturer a$$ kisser, giving them a trophy to use in advertising.

      • 0 avatar
        tekdemon

        You’ll notice Porsche is nowhere to be found because almost all of them are serviced at dealerships.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “A Chrysler 300 with broken power door locks is completely different from a Chrysler 200 with transmission issues.”

      How? If both require being dropped off at the dealership and both are fixed under warranty in a day, it’s an equal amount of hassle.

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        You can drive the 300 to the dealership, you might have to get a tow to the dealership with in a 200.

        You can do some errands or wait a few days until you’re less busy if the problem is the door locks.

        Imagine two boats: one with a hole above the waterline and one with a hole below the waterline. They both have issues and both of them are going to need repairs, but one is more likly to ruin a nice day on the water.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          I like how the Internet has transformed complaints on the 9HP’s shift quality into claims that cars using it are “undriveable.”

          If you have some evidence that 9HPs are actually *failing* then post it, otherwise stop making baseless claims.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        One of them is still driveable, and can therefore be driven to the dealership rather than towed.

        It could even be repaired a month from now if that is more convenient for the owner.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          “One of them is still driveable, and can therefore be driven to the dealership rather than towed.”

          Where did he say the 200 wasn’t driveable?

          • 0 avatar
            yamahog

            Transmission issues = there’s an issue with the transmission because the car isn’t driveable.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            “Transmission issues = there’s an issue with the transmission because the car isn’t driveable.”

            I’ve known people with transmission issues and none of them required a tow. The transmission started making strange noises, slipping, etc. long before the car was undriveable.

          • 0 avatar
            yamahog

            What’s the point of replying to my comments if you will simply to tell me what I meant?

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            Well, if you meant “transmission so broken it’s undriveable”, that’s fair.

            But you just said “transmission issue”, which does not actually mean undriveable to other people, as you might have inferred from their replies?

            If you mean the transmission is dead, say “dead”. It’s much clearer.

          • 0 avatar
            yamahog

            I can’t describe the transmission as ‘dead’ without implying that it was at one point alive. And then I’d have someone talk about the difference between a mechanical failure and the cessation of critical biological processes.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Overall there is some consistency with what happens here. Toyota, Hyundai/Kia , Mazda and Subaru rank well

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Lol

        Transmission repairs can be far longer than a day. I’ve seen cars at the dealership for months waiting on a new engine/transmission/other major component because the orders for these frequently-imploding units are very high. To be fare, this was at a GM dealer in the early 2000’s.

        If it was a average car like a base Malibu or a program Impala former rental we sold, they got a Chevy Prizim or Corsica loaner. A fully loaded Yukon XL got a used Subrban or similar from the used lot, but only for short term issues (like up to 5 days.) Occasionally we loaned out Fords, Mazdas, etc from the lot, Lol that must’ve been funny conversation in the parking lot:

        *pulls up in a Mazda B4000 fully loaded 4×4 (and that’s an actual example on more than one occasion)*

        “Morning Bob, you dump the Blazer?”

        “No, this is the loaner from the Chevy dealer. I insisted that I make it to work today, and so they gave me this instead of a GM product.”

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          There’s institutional bias built in against Ford at Consumer Reports, JD Powers, etc.

          Everyone knows that Ford passed Toyota/Lexus in terms of reliability and long term durability quite some time ago.

          I was talking to a gentleman at the gas station today who was driving a 1989 Ford Taurus with 987,000 miles on the odomoter, and the only thing he has done was oil/filter, coolant, brake pad changes.

          • 0 avatar
            Erikstrawn

            As both a Ford owner and a Toyota owner, I’d like to ask who you polled. I really like my Mustang, but next time I buy Toyota will get more points of consideration in the “reliability” department.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            “There’s institutional bias built in against Ford at Consumer Reports, JD Powers, etc.”

            And TrueDelta? All of these places? Against Ford? Why?

            You’re alleging what amounts to a complex and wide conspiracy to explain a result that’s more simply explained by the much simpler cause, “Ford quality isn’t as good.”

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            DeadWeight is being sarcastic. He does this whenever Johnny comments.

          • 0 avatar
            MrIcky

            Your anecdote does not really prove this point. As I can point to at least 4 ford owners who have had persistant problems that have required lots of shop time.

            I don’t think Ford is unreliable, but “everyone knows that Ford passed Toyota…” is just wrong.

            I think Toyota makes a reliable product because their best-selling products are all basically the same car for 20 years and all the wrinkles are ironed out.

          • 0 avatar
            RHD

            Wow, 987,000 miles on the original timing belt, brake rotors, distributor cap and rotor, starter, muffler, oxygen sensor, air filter, spark plugs, alternator and tires?

            I guess they just don’t make ’em like they used to!

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            I try to look at as much data as possible. It makes sense to look and expensive purchases from a durability perspective. Both my 2010 F150 and Sienna had good ratings in various sources. My F150 has required less repairs to date than my Sienna.
            My F150 needed to get the 4×4 engagement solenoids replaced because they weren’t disengaging properly and that was it.
            The Sienna has needed a water pump and a heater blower motor. I’m still waiting on a fix for a recall on the cable that retains the spare tire. That has been since last summer.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      First 90 days?

      1 and 2 are “100%” even in a Maserati, I reckon, at least often enough that you’re likely to see 100% in a survey.

      3 and 4, well, we can only really *know* after a few thousand of them have gone 200,000 miles, is the thing.

      (I mean, we can calculate 3 on *expected maintenance*, sure, though that might make luxury brands look inflated; I’m never taking my Volvo to the dealer for scheduled maintenance again once it’s off warranty, not at their prices.)

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        I also saw an early-build 1999 Cougar sit for several months due to an electrical issue that had something to do with the charging system.

        It was older with like 56k and evidently the problem was corrected on later cars but the part was on backorder from hell. Wouldn’t surprise me if it were made in Europe (sold as the Ford Cougar there, also the heavily related Mondeo was designed there of course).

        I suppose the part was not shared by the by-then widespread later Cougar/Contour/Mystiques. We had and sold program Contours/Mystiques/Cougars and new Cougars often and don’t remember any coming in with similar issues. The manager drove a loaded V-6 Cougar, but it was an auto (she said too much traffic for a 5 speed lol).

        We gave the lady a lease-returned V-6/Auto Cougar as a loaner. I think it had leather and hers didn’t.

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    Agree with yamahog. Who cares about this pathetic survey? Its objectives bear no resemblance to real world problems.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      The media (including automotive blogs), love lists from seemingly reputable companies. They take this stuff and let the masses know what’s good and what’s not.

      Garbage like this will die if it’s ignored, but that’s not going to happen.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    I’ll start to consider Kias when I start to see significant quantities of them on the road with 200k miles and the original powertrain.

    Until then I still consider Kia/Hyundai to be throwaway cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      What car isn’t ultimately throwaway? Increasingly, after three years.

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        There’s a difference between the 7 series and Toyota Hiluxs / Land Crusiers.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        Increasingly? Average age and mileage of cars at end of service life is increasing with time.

        I fully expect anything I buy to still be driving at 200k miles, and not in a “clapped out beater dragging its guts up the road” sense.

        The best of the automakers can do it without requiring significant compromises; I’m not willing to accept less from the other guys.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Leasing. Only new car buyers matter to OEMs and they increasingly opt to lease, especially higher up the food chain.

          • 0 avatar
            yamahog

            Yeah, no one cares about the secondary market which is why you can’t go to the dealer and get a Certified Pre Owned car or parts for a car that’s out of production.

            New car sales matter. But the expection of quality and resale value make purchases happen.

            How many Camrys would toyota sell if the residual value of every other mid-sizer was what it was today, but a 3 year old Camry was worth 27 cents and a peanut shell and a bit of string?

            Not many and good luck making attractive leases when your residual is crap.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            The ramifications of a lease-heavy market environment are a new and developing thing, I think.

            Probably won’t much affect middle and bargain brands but already has made “would you buy an off-lease German car?” a popular internet trope.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “Increasingly, after three years.”

        Do you have data to support that? Please provide a link.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Because every driver has an odometer display on the exterior of their car and a bumper sticker saying “Now on Powertrain #X”.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        You’re right, there is no other way to gather age and mileage information. I concede.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          I know what you were originally asserting, and I don’t necessarily disagree; you should have just used a less ambiguous term than “see […] them on the road.”

          • 0 avatar
            bikegoesbaa

            Fair enough.

            By “see on the road” I meant observe directly or gather from reliable sources such as auction data rather than via third hand anecdotes.

            Because everybody has a cousin who has a roommate who has a Kia that made it to 300k on the original oil. Honest.

    • 0 avatar
      Sooke

      That’s me.

      2000 Kia Sephia

      200K

      Here’s Why This Beat-Up Kia Is The Best Car I’ve Ever Reviewed

      Doug DeMuro

      http://jalopnik.com/here-s-why-this-beat-up-kia-is-the-best-car-i-ve-ever-r-1776230820

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        That Jalopnik article is definitely worth reading.

        Paying attention to regular maintenance and not thrashing the car will often result in high mileage numbers before it finally gives up the ghost. My ’99 V70 just rolled over 200K, and it’s still on the original starter, alternator and muffler. So add good component build quality to the list of factors, along with not getting ran into by some other slob.

        Getting 200K from a Kia is pretty remarkable, though.

    • 0 avatar

      Here’s the full list of Hyundais in my family that went without any significant problems. None of them made it to 200k only because they were sold, wrecked (in two cases), or traded in:

      1999 Tiburon – Totalled at 80k
      2000 Elantra -130k at time of warm embrace with F-150
      2002 Elantra – Sold at 130k, still a daily driver for my cousin
      2002 Sonata – Traded at 135k
      2004 XG350 – Totalled at 85k
      2009 Sonata – Still daily driver, ~115k

      Significant issues with all of these? The Elantra needed some wires replaced once. A sensor and power window motor went out in the ’02 Sonata. The XG350 needed a motor mount replaced.

      I don’t have the data yet for 200k+ ont he ones still around, but my point is we never once encountered a major issue.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    No one survey is ever going to be complete or perfect. Anyone shopping for a new or used car should always try to gather as much info as possible. A combination of True Delta, CR, Car Complaints, and the # of TSBs and seriousness of those TSBs as well as any recalls should be a pretty good indicator of likely reliability. New cars particularly in their first MY are more of a crap shoot, and I can’t say I’ve ever found IQS scores to be indicative of future reliability.

    For example, my girlfriend recently bought a CPO ’12 Maxima. No open recalls, (so no Takata airbags or anything else to worry about there) very few TSBs none of which are worth worrying about, superb scores on TD, very good scores on CR, and almost no complaints about the car at all on Car Complaints. It’s particularly important to pay attention to transmission problems and complaints with Nissans, but by all indicators, the particular CVT that Nissan put in that generation of Maxima appears to be holding up very well. The Pathfinder, not so much.

  • avatar

    Between the way issues are weighted (they aren’t) and the fact that it is a satisfaction survey based on perception, it’s pretty meaningless. If my $30k Kia squeaks it’s no biggie, if my $150k Porsche squeaks I’m going to whine about it. The more you pay for something, the higher your expectations (and rightfully so).

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Hell, I was so peeved about the squeaking and rattling in my *Corolla* I tore the console apart and fixed them (foam tape, blue RTV).

      I wouldn’t tolerate anything like a significant squeak/rattle in a new $30k car …

    • 0 avatar
      strafer

      I’ll bet the $30K car owner is just as proud of his car as $150k car owner is.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      This survey other than being a gross misnomer is an indicator of ergonomic design and intuitive use. For example: Ford’s My Touch got hit heavy and hard in these ratings and almost universally received poor reviews.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Power sells their product to manufacturers. I’d like to see their rankings stacked against how much the ranked spend on Power’s product.

    I rank Power at the bottom and CR, which takes no manufacturer money, at the top.

    Further, I believe Power lets client manufacturers advertise their rank while CR actually forbids being mentioned.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    Where is Honda in this?

  • avatar
    energetik9

    Yeah, I’ll take my 911 over a Kia, which as it happens has been completely problem free for two years now.

    Not like I place a single ounce of credibility to J.D. power anyway.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    As much as I hate to admit it but the 911 is full of problems. I’m on my second 911 and the reliability seems to be getting worse because of all the electronic nonsense. Great performance but poor reliability according to my own experience.

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