Kia has once again come out on top of the JD Power Initial Quality Study in the United States, making it the second year in a row the Korean manufacturer has ranked highest in the independent survey.
Last year the company was the first non-premium automotive brand in 27 years to outdo the competition, and once again Kia has beaten premium manufacturers like Porsche, Lexus and Audi, along with mainstream players like Ford, Hyundai and Toyota.
Not only did Kia top the study overall as a brand, it also received five segment awards - more than any other manufacturer. The Kia Cadenza (large car), Forte (Cerato, compact car), Niro (small SUV), Sorento (mid-size SUV) and Soul (compact MPV) all took out their respective segments for initial quality.
Above: Kia Sorento, Top: Kia Forte (Cerato)
For 2017 the Korean manufacturer was recorded to have 72 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) during the first 90 days of ownership, well below the industry average of 97/PP100. Second in the study was parent company Hyundai's luxury arm, Genesis, with 77/PP100, while luxury sports marque Porsche managed 78/PP100.
Meanwhile, Hyundai scored 88/PP100, ranking equal fifth. Toyota's score of 95/PP100 put it just better than industry average, while Lexus's 98/PP100 result made the Japanese premium marque worse than the industry average.
Despite running into issues the last couple of years, Volkswagen ranked ahead of all Japanese brands bar Nissan, with a score of 93/PP100. American company Ford managed equal fourth with fellow US brand Ram, scoring 86/PP100.
Above: Kia Niro
Hyundai Motor Company, parent of Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands, had the most segment awards thanks to Kia's five category wins, while General Motors (GM) and the BMW Group both had four segment-leading models.
Additionally, BMW subsidiary Mini was the most improved brand - with owners reporting 33/PP100 fewer issues in the first 90 days than last year. Other strong improvers for 2017 include Ram (28/PP100 improvement), Acura (19), Volvo (18) and Ford (16).
Overall, new vehicles improved in initial quality by eight per cent over last year, while 27 of the 33 brands included in the study showed improvement over their respective 2016 scores.
Above: Mini Cooper S
"Automotive manufacturers are responding to consumer feedback and producing vehicles of the highest quality," said Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power.
"The industry has improved significantly in each of the past three years. Today’s vehicles have more things that could go wrong but fewer things that actually do go wrong."
Other key findings from the study show that in-car audio and communication systems are the biggest source of frustration for owners, despite the category showing the most improvement compared with the previous year.
Above: Genesis G80 (Hyundai Genesis)
The only vehicle feature category to show a slide in initial quality is 'features, controls and displays', with the largest increase in problems coming from active safety systems like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, collision avoidance systems and blind spot monitoring.
J.D. Power argues that autonomous vehicles face a significant roadblock if consumers cannot trust these driver assistance features, which are considered primary building blocks for driverless technology.
This year's study also marks the second year in a row that US brands outperformed imported marques, with the 'Detroit Three' (Chrysler, Ford, GM) averaging a score of 93/PP100 compared to the imported average of 99/100PP.
Above: Porsche 911
J.D. Power's US Initial Quality Study uses the responses from nearly 80,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2017 model-year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership.
The study is based on 233 questions organised into eight problem categories, fielded from February 2017 through May 2017.