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by Tim Beissmann

A difficult 12 months for Japanese manufacturing giant Toyota Motor Co and some near faultless launches by the Detroit Three has seen US manufacturers outperform imports for the first time in the J.D. Power 2010 Model Year quality rankings.

Led by vehicles like the Buick Enclave, Ram 1500 and Ford Focus, Ford Motor Co, General Motors and Chrysler Group averaged 108 problems per 100 vehicles, compared with 109 problems/100 vehicles for European and Asian manufacturers combined.

Ford came in at fifth position overall with 93 problems/100 vehicles, while Toyota slipped from sixth in 2009 to 21st this year with a score of 117.

German luxury brands Porsche and Mercedes-Benz ranked first and third respectively on 83 and 87, while Acura (86, second) and Lexus (88, fourth) filled the gaps in the top five.

Land Rover took out bottom spot with 170 problems/100 vehicles, while MINI (133) was rated the greatest improver on 2009’s results.

Despite Toyota’s troubles with recalls it still managed to record the most segment wins, with six vehicles – Lexus GS, LS460, GX460, Toyota FJ Cruiser, Sienna, and ScionxB – outperforming their competitors.

Ford’s four segment winners were all in the car categories – Ford Focus, Mustang, Taurus, and Volvo C70 – while GM’s three winner were trucks – Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Tahoe, Avalanche and GMC Sierra LD (tied together).

The survey’s report noted that the quality of all-new vehicles – especially from Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Ford and Honda – was better than in previous years. Historically, carry-over models and vehicles with smaller updates experience fewer problems.

Now in its 24th year, the report noted that very few problems have to do with “the oily parts” of new vehicles, with technology like cameras and Bluetooth now causing the most headaches for owners and manufactures.

J.D. Power results are based on a survey of 82,000 new vehicles after 90 days of ownership.

(with Automotive News)