J.D. Power just released the results of its 2015 Initial Quality Survey, and what they reveal is pretty surprising. While Korean automakers made significant year-over-year improvements, Japanese brands have failed to hold an advantage over the rest of the industry.
The survey ranks brands based on the number of problems owners report in their first 90 days of vehicle ownership. What is considered to be a problem varies from owner to owner, and the rankings don’t break down a difference between mechanical problems and problems with features like Bluetooth, so they do need to be taken with a grain of salt. That said, you can still get a pretty good idea of how satisfied customers were with their purchases after three months of ownership.
What companies did the best this year? These are the 10 top-ranked brands in this year’s J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey.
Normally at the top of quality lists, it may be surprising to see Toyota barely crack the top 10. It’s not that its cars are getting worse. Other car companies are just making improvements more quickly, and long-term reliability takes many years to become a factor. Still, Toyota won individual model awards for the Tacoma and Sequoia.
Coming in rated slightly higher than Toyota is its luxury brand, Lexus. Like its parent company, Lexus is known for its exceptional long-term reliability, and while it’s close to the bottom of this list, it still beat out 24 other brands. The Lexus LS also won an individual model award for its outstanding initial quality.
Lincoln has been an also-ran in the luxury car industry for years, but Ford is committed to rebuilding its image and making it a legitimate luxury car company again. While a production version of the Continental was only just revealed, recent improvements have already made an impact on customers’ perceptions.
Chevrolet has seen a lot of success lately, and it’s clearly working hard to improve its image. Performance cars like the Corvette and Camaro certainly help with that, but neither of those cars won individual awards. Instead, Chevrolet took home model awards for the Equinox, Malibu, Silverado, and Spark.
When BMW first launched iDrive in 2001, it was full of problems and incredibly difficult to use. Despite the negative press, the company stuck with it, and today iDrive is widely considered one of the best infotainment systems in the industry. As important as infotainment systems are for customer satisfaction, iDrive is definitely an advantage for BMW. The 2 Series, 4 Series, and 5 Series also took home individual awards.
Rounding out the top five brands, Infiniti deserves praise not just for doing well, but for how far it’s come in the past year. As a company, Infiniti is one of the most improved brands, cutting its number of problems per 100 vehicles by 31 since 2014. It also won individual awards for its QX70 and QX80 SUVs.
Journalists will eventually forget how bad Hyundais used to be. Until then, survey results like this one will continue to serve as a reminder of how drastically a company can improve within a few short years if it commits to doing so. Hyundais have gotten incredibly competitive recently, and the company even took home individual awards for the Accent and Tucson.
Jaguar might not have received any individual model awards this year, but a podium finish is still commendable for any car company. At one point, Jaguar was essentially as irrelevant as Lincoln but has been reborn as a company that makes desirable cars. In fact, early reviews are saying that the Jaguar XE is a better 3 Series than the BMW 3 Series.
It’s not just Hyundai that’s constantly being praised for how drastically its quality has improved recently. Kia gets in on that action, too. This year, it actually did better than its corporate cousin and by a fairly wide margin. Hyundai had 95 problems per 100 cars, while Kia only had 86. Plus, Kia earned individual model awards for the Sorento and Soul.
No one should be terribly surprised that Porsche took top honors in this year’s survey. It did the same thing in 2013 and in 2014. Porsche is a company that works incredibly hard to make sure everything it produces is as good as it can be, and that commitment shows in the final products. Unsurprisingly, it also won several individual model awards for the 911, Boxster, and Macan.