Despite the automotive industry’s tenuous economic position, vehicle manufacturers posted the strongest improvement in initial quality since 2009 and are producing higher-quality vehicles than ever before, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Initial Quality Study.
Since 2011, 26 out of the 34 brands have improved, and the overall quality of vehicles improved five percent from the previous year. There were also 185 models ranked and 65 percent showed an improvement from last year.
Lexus received the highest ranking for the second year in a row, and Jaguar and Porsche tied for the second place ranking. Jaguar showed the largest improvement jumping from the twentieth spot to the second place spot. To round out the top five ranked positions were Honda and Cadillac.
However, for the first time in the 26-year history of the study, owners reported the most problems with the audio, entertainment, and navigation systems versus any other vehicle area. The number of owner-reported problems with factory-installed hands-free communication devices has increased 137 percent during the past four years. The demand for hands-free technology has drastically increased from luxury models to the mainstream automobiles and users expectations for the technology has also increased. As manufacturers introduce increasingly sophisticated multimedia systems designed to enhance the ownership experience, owners more frequently cite these systems as a source of quality problems.
The Initial Quality Study serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality measured at 90 days of ownership. The study is used extensively by manufacturers worldwide to help them design and build better models and by consumers to help them in their vehicle purchase decisions.