Now in its 28th year, the 2014 JD Power and Associates Initial Quality Study is based on the number of problems experienced during the first 90 days of ownership by more than 86,000 owners and lessees of 2014 model year vehicles. A final quality score is then determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100).
Improving from 80 PP100 last year to 74 PP100 in 2014, Porsche bettered Jaguar with 87 PP100 (down from 104 PP100), Lexus with 92 PP100 (down from 94 PP100) and fourth place finisher Hyundai with 94 PP100 (down from 106 PP100).
But despite the top placed manufacturers improving their overall ratings, the US automotive industry analyst’s study found the industry average of problems experienced increased three per cent, from 113 PP100 to 116 PP100.
Blaming car makers’ continued challenge of introducing sophisticated technologies into new vehicles, the findings mirror those found in the 2014 JD Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study released in February. Measuring problems experienced after three years of ownership, this year’s results marked the first time an increase has been seen in 15 years.
JD Power says its initial quality study identified harsh weather conditions and newly launched vehicles – models completely new to the market rather than updated or facelifted models – as the two primary causes of the increased problem levels. Proving more problematic than carryover vehicles, the study found newly launched vehicle problems were mainly related to voice recognition, Bluetooth pairing and audio systems.
J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Initial Quality Study
Problems per 100 vehicles (PP100)
- Porsche 74
- Jaguar 87
- Lexus 92
- Hyundai 94
- Toyota 105
- Chevrolet 106
- Kia 106
- BMW 108
- Honda 108
- Lincoln 109
- Audi 111
- Chrysler 111
- Cadillac 115
- Mercedes-Benz 115
- Volvo 115
- Ford 116
- GMC 116
- Ram 116
- Industry Average 116
- Buick 120
- Nissan 120
- Dodge 124
- Land Rover 127
- Infiniti 128
- Volkswagen 128
- Acura 131
- Mini 133
- Subaru 138
- Mazda 139
- Scion 140
- Mitsubishi 145
- Jeep 146
- Fiat 206
JD Power vice president of global automotive David Sargent said while car companies are trying to give consumers the new features and technology they want, almost all are struggling to do this “flawlessly”.
“Some consumers [are] indicating that the technology is hard to understand, difficult to use, or simply does not always work as designed," Sargent said.
And while the top tier managed to buck the trend and reduce its problems, one group to fare poorly across the survey was newly named Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). With 206 PP100, Fiat slipped further down the charts into last place, trailing second lasts’ Jeep (146 PP100) along with Dodge (124 PP100) and Ram (116 PP100). Chrysler, with an Audi-equalling 111 PP100, was the only FCA brand to better the 2014 industry average.
Unsurprisingly, the study also found that the fewer problems owners experienced with their vehicle, the greater their brand loyalty.
"These early problems [experienced in the first 90 days] can set the tone for the entire ownership period and still have an effect years later when consumers replace their vehicle," Sargent said.
2014 JD Power and Associates Initial Quality Study
Small car – Hyundai Accent
Compact car – Hyundai Elantra
Compact premium car – Lexus ES
Compact sporty car – Mazda MX-5
Compact premium sporty car – Porsche Boxster
Mid-size car – Chevrolet Malibu
Mid-size sporty car – Dodge Challenger
Mid-size premium car – Hyundai Genesis sedan
Mid-size premium sporty car – Porsche 911
Large car – Kia Cadenza
Large premium car – Porsche Panamera
SUV and light-commercial segment:
Sub-compact SUV – Buick Encore/Kia Sportage/Nissan Juke (tie)
Compact SUV – GMC Terrain
Compact premium SUV – Infiniti QX50
Compact MPV – Mazda 5
Mid-size SUV – Ford Edge
Mid-size premium SUV – Lincoln MKX
Mid-size pick-up – Honda Ridgeline
Minivan – Chrysler Town & Country
Large SUV – Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon (tie)
Large premium SUV – Infiniti QX80
Large light-duty pick-up – Ford F-150 LD
Large heavy-duty pick-up – Chevrolet Silverado HD