New J.D. Power Study Is Just Full Of Surprises, Namely Kia

2016 Sorento SXL

The J.D. Power 2015 Initial Quality Study is out and this one’s left a lot of people scratching their heads, including us (check out the Car Pro’s commentary about why we think the IQS is worthless here.)

In the new study, Kia tops nonpremium brands for the first time, and the Korean automaker also came in second overall behind Porsche with the least amount of reported issues from owners. Then, this shocker, Japanese brands actually fell below the industry average, another first in the study’s 29-year history. Some are even calling it a ” historic shift” in the industry.

“This is a clear shift in the quality landscape,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power. “For so long, Japanese brands have been viewed by many as the gold standard in vehicle quality. While the Japanese automakers continue to make improvements, we’re seeing other brands, most notably Korean makes, really accelerating the rate of improvement. Leading companies are not only stepping up the pace of improvements on existing models, but are also working up front to launch vehicles with higher quality and more intuitive designs.”

Korean brands improved 11 percent year on year, while domestic and European brands each increased 3 percent. Japanese brands, in contrast, improved 1 percent.

On the domestic side, Ford can do some celebrating. It’s struggled in the IQS, thanks in large part due to growing pains with MyFord Touch, but scored above the industry average for the first time since introducing the infotainment system in 2011.

Entertainment and connectivity systems remain the industry’s most problem-prone areas. Driver’s still aren’t too happy with voice recognition systems and Bluetooth pairing.

“Smartphones have set high consumer expectations of how well technology should work, and automakers are struggling to match that success in their new vehicles,” said Stephens. “However, we are seeing some OEMs make important improvements along the way. What’s clear is that they can’t afford to wait for the next generation of models to launch before making important updates to these systems.”

The IQS is based on feedback from more than 84,000 buyers and lessees of new 2015 model vehicles after 90 days of ownership. The study took place from February to May of this year.

Top Five Brands

Porsche topped the quality rankings for the third year in a row. Kia leaped into second place, helped greatly by its much-improved technology. Jaguar fell back a spot to third. Hyundai remained steady in fourth place and Infiniti made its own giant leap into fifth place.

Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler didn’t fare well at all, with Jeep, Chrysler, Fiat and Smart all coming in at the bottom five.

Model Awards

General Motors (4): Chevrolet Equinox (tie); Chevrolet Malibu; Chevrolet Silverado LD; and Chevrolet Spark
Hyundai Motor Company (4): Hyundai Accent; Hyundai Tucson; Kia Sorento; and Kia Soul
Nissan Motor Company (4): Infiniti QX70; Infiniti QX80; Nissan Sentra; and Nissan Quest
Volkswagen AG (4): Audi Q3; Porsche 911; Porsche Boxster; and Porsche Macan
BMW (3): BMW 2 Series; BMW 4 Series; and BMW 5 Series
Toyota Motor Corporation (3): Lexus LS; Toyota Tacoma; and Toyota Sequoia
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (2): Chrysler 300 and Dodge Challenger
Ford Motor Company (2): Ford Escape (tie) and Ford Super Duty
Mazda (1): Mazda MX-5 Miata

Photo Credit: Kia
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