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by Tim Beissmann

Lexus has retained its title as the highest quality vehicle manufacturer according to the latest JD Power and Associates study, narrowly holding off inspired tilts at the top spot from Jaguar and Porsche.

The 2012 US Initial Quality Study reveals Lexus matched its industry-leading rating of 73 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) from 2011 to maintain the number one ranking.

But Jaguar has been the biggest improver in 2012, falling just short of pulling off a massive upset over Lexus. The British marque slashed its rating from 114 PP100 in 2011 to just 75 PP100 – a result that sees it leap from equal 20th last year to equal second.

Porsche also made considerable gains in the 2012 initial quality survey, improving 25 PP100 over last year to tie with Jaguar. The Porsche 911 continues to set the quality benchmark, averaging just 44 PP100 in 2012.

Overall, the industry average fell to 102 PP100 – a five per cent improvement over 2011.

Japanese brands again ranked highly, with Honda, Acura, Infiniti and Toyota filling positions five to eight, with General Motors’ luxury American division Cadillac jumping from ninth to fourth and improving 23 PP100 versus 2011.

BMW, Nissan, Ram and Chevrolet joined Jaguar in climbing above the industry average, with Nissan rising 11 positions and shedding 18 PP100.

At the other end of the scale, Smart and Fiat both debuted in JD Power’s initial quality survey only to tie for last place with a 151 PP100 average.

Mini, Mitsubishi and Volkswagen each improved their ratings marginally but remain disappointing overall, with all three failing to climb out of the bottom five.

Audi, Hyundai, Kia and Subaru fell just below the industry average along with Volvo and Jeep.

In-car technology issues continue to see Ford languishing towards the bottom of the table. The blue oval was ranked fifth in 2010 before glitches with its Sync infotainment system, among other factors, crippled its quality rating.

Despite its lowly 27th-place ranking, Ford matched Lexus with three individual segment wins, while Infiniti, Nissan and Toyota each claimed two.

The JD Power 2012 Initial Quality Study is based on the responses of more than 74,000 owners and lessees of 2012 model year vehicles surveyed after 90 days of ownership.

 

Best cars by segment:

  • Sub-compact – Toyota Yaris
  • Compact – Toyota Corolla
  • Compact sports – Mazda MX-5
  • Compact premium sports – Volvo C70
  • Entry premium – Lexus ES350
  • Midsize premium – Infiniti M-Series
  • Midsize sports – Ford Mustang
  • Large premium – Lexus LS
  • Midsize – Chevrolet Malibu
  • Large – Ford Taurus
  • Premium sports – Porsche 911

 

Best SUVs/pick-ups/vans by segment:

  • Compact SUV – Honda CR-V
  • Compact MPV – Kia Soul
  • Entry premium SUV – Infiniti EX-Series
  • Midsize SUV – Buick Enclave
  • Large SUV – Ford Expedition
  • Midsize premium SUV – Lexus RX
  • Large premium SUV – Cadillac Escalade
  • Large pick-up – GMC Sierra LD
  • Midsize pick-up – Nissan Frontier
  • Minivan – Nissan Quest



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