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DETROIT -- Kia overtook Porsche to lead the industry in J.D. Power’s annual report card on vehicle quality, marking the first time in 27 years that a nonpremium brand has topped the list.

Kia, with 83 problems reported per 100 vehicles, joins Toyota as the only nonpremium brands to have finished first in the 30-year history of the Initial Quality Study, J.D. Power and Associates said today in releasing the results at the Automotive Press Association here. Toyota came in at No. 1 overall in 1989.

In a scorecard that saw overall gains for the industry, the Jeep, Chrysler and Subaru brands showed the strongest improvement. Jaguar plunged from third place last year to 27th overall.

This was the second consecutive year that the nonpremium brands were led by Kia. The South Korean marquee finished second overall in 2015, with a score of 86. This year’s first-place finish marks the culmination of a steady ascent from 18th in 2012.

Last summer, Kia vowed to take the title this year to fight the perception among consumers that its quality wasn’t up to snuff. J.D. Power says vehicles with the fewest problems tend to have owners who are most likely to buy that brand again.

Kia narrowly topped Porsche, which finished second overall with 84 problems and had ranked first in each of the previous three years. Hyundai, Kia’s sister brand, finished third overall with 92 problems, while Toyota (93) and BMW (94) rounded out the top five.

Detroit 3 gains

J.D. Power said the Detroit 3 automakers made a “strong improvement” in this year’s study, averaging 103 reported issues per 100 vehicles, better than the industry average of 105 problems and beating import brands’ average of 106 problems. The Detroit automakers have only topped their foreign competition once before, in 2010.

Overall, new-vehicle quality improved at its sharpest pace since 2009, J.D. Power said. Quality was up 6 percent, compared with a 3 percent year-over-year increase last year, as scores rose among 21 of the 33 brands studied.

“Manufacturers are currently making some of the highest quality products we’ve ever seen,” said Renee Stephens, J.D. Power vice president of U.S. automotive quality, in a statement. “Tracking our data over the past several years, it has become clear that automakers are listening to the customer, identifying pain points and are focused on continuous improvement.”

The study is based on more than 80,000 responses from owners and lessees of 2016 model-year vehicles after 90 days of ownership. Consumers were surveyed from February through May.

Jeep (113) and Chrysler (115) improved by 28 points each, more than any other brand. However, both brands remained well below the industry average, as did Fiat Chrysler’s Ram (114), Dodge (117) and Fiat (174), which came in second to last and added 13 problems from 2015.

“Fiat brand results continue to be skewed by limited models and sample sizes. Fiat has done well in recent third-party surveys that measure customer satisfaction and vehicle quality,” FCA said in a statement.

Ford topped domestic automakers with an average problem rate of 99. Lincoln finished tied for seventh overall with 96 problems, vs. 103 in 2015, while the Ford brand finished 11th with 102, five fewer than last year.

General Motors averaged 102 problems per 100 vehicles as strong performances by Chevrolet (95), Buick (96) and GMC (103) were dragged down by a below-average showing from Cadillac (112). Each GM brand improved its average by at least six points.

GM received seven awards for highest-quality models, leading all automakers. Toyota Motor Corp. followed with six, while Hyundai and Volkswagen AG had four.

More improvements

Aside from Chrysler and Jeep, Subaru (with 24 fewer problems), Nissan (20 fewer) and Volkswagen (19 fewer) made the biggest improvements.

Smart finished last by a wide margin, with 216 problems, and was also the brand that saw the largest increase in problems, up 62 year-over-year.

Jaguar, which finished third in last year’s study, plummeted to 27th overall with 127 problems, up from 93 in 2015. Volvo saw its average problems rise by 32 from 120 in 2015 to 152 this year, putting it third-to-last overall.

Toyota rejoined the top five after finishing tied for 9th last year. The brand averaged 93 problems per 100 vehicles, down from 104 last year. Lexus finished tied for seventh overall with a score of 96, while the outgoing Scion brand placed 26th.

Honda tumbled to 24th overall after finishing 14th last year. Infiniti, with a score of 103, also fell out of the top 10.

Rank Brand Problems per 100 vehicles
1 Kia 83
2 Porsche 84
3 Hyundai 92
4 Toyota 93
5 BMW 94
6 Chevrolet 95
7 Buick 96
8 Lexus 96
9 Lincoln 96
10 Nissan 101
11 Ford 102
12 GMC 103
13 Infiniti 103
14 Volkswagen 104
Industry Average 105
15 Audi 110
16 Mercedes-Benz 111
17 Cadillac 112
18 Jeep 113
19 Ram 114
20 Chrysler 115
21 Mitsubishi 116
22 Dodge 117
23 Subaru 118
24 Honda 119
25 Acura 122
26 Scion 123
27 Jaguar 127
28 Mazda 127
29 Mini 127
30 Land Rover 132
31 Volvo 152
32 Fiat 174
33 Smart 216

Top Three Models per Segment - Car, MPV, Van

Highest ranked Second Third
City Car* Chevrolet Spark -- --

Compact Sporty Car Buick Cascada (tie) Hyundai Veloster --
Scion tC (tie)

Small Car Hyundai Accent Chevrolet Sonic Kia Rio

Compact MPV* Kia Soul -- --

Small Premium Car Lexus CT BMW 2 Series Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

Compact Premium Car Lincoln MKZ Lexus ES BMW 3 Series

Compact Car Toyota Corolla Kia Forte Hyundai Elantra

Compact Premium Sporty Car Audi TT Porsche Boxster Porsche Cayman

Midsize Car Toyota Camry Nissan Altima Honda Accord

Midsize Premium Sporty Car* Porsche 911 -- --

Midsize Sporty Car* Dodge Challenger -- --

Large Car Hyundai Azera Buick LaCrosse Chevrolet Impala

Minivan* Chrysler Town & Country Dodge Grand Caravan --

Midsize Premium Car Lexus GS Audi A7 Hyundai Genesis


Top Three Models per Segment - SUV, Pickup

Highest ranked Second Third
Small SUV Kia Sportage Hyundai Tucson Buick Encore

Midsize Pickup Nissan Frontier GMC Canyon Chevrolet Colorado

Small Premium SUV* Audi Q3 BMW X1

Large SUV Chevrolet Tahoe Toyota Sequoia Ford Expedition

Compact SUV Chevrolet Equinox (tie) Ford Escape
GMC Terrain (tie)

Large Premium SUV Lincoln Navigator Infiniti QX80 Land Rover Range Rover

Compact Premium SUV Porsche Macan Lincoln MKC BMW X3

Large Light Duty Pickup* Chevrolet Silverado LD GMC Sierra LD

Midsize SUV Toyota Highlander Kia Sorento Nissan Murano

Large Heavy Duty Pickup Chevrolet Silverado HD Ford Super Duty GMC Sierra HD

Midsize Premium SUV BMW X5 BMW X6 Lexus RX

* No other model in this segment performs above segment average.
Source: J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS)


the chart is a little easier to read here

http://www.autonews.com/article/2016...-quality-study
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Lots of things people are complaining about, some legit. Some, confusion.

Fuel tank level issues, legitimate.

Phone connectivity issues, operator errors.

Other "quirks" that are generally misunderstood, smart will always get some blame for those.

Basically, if the fuel level issue bothers you --- it's ending up on the J.D. Power survey.
 

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MY08 cabrio MY09 cabrio Brabus MY15 ED
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While an abysmal quality score, guessing that the smart MY16 results must be a "blended score" of 451 ED and 453 ICE?

It should be noted that historically the J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study results can skew badly when a totally new model is introduced like the 453.

The Initial Quality Study was designed to capture “things gone wrong” with a vehicle. Each one is called a “problem,” and it can be “either a fault in the assembly of the vehicle or a design issue.” A fault might be a poorly assembled door panel or a loose electrical connection, while a design issue is something that a customer doesn’t like—a multifunction cruise-control stalk, for example—even though the item is performing exactly as intended.

Note that the smart MY15 IQS showed 154 problems while the MY16 shows 216 problems!

It should also be noted that during this MY15-16 period the Industry Average actually went down from 112 to 105 and Kia/Porsche finished in a dead heat as they closed the gap and flipped order.
 

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Yikes I'm not gonna let the wife read that ! She swears by Kia and we have two along with ONE Smart that holds his own pretty well in my family. But I must admit Parkersburg is crawling with Kias. They are everywhere. It's as though the local Kia dealership is selling them as buy one and get one free. And their service dept. is really good. As near as I can count there's 7 Smart fortwo's here on Parkersburg, so that's tough odds against all the Kias. But the nearest Smart Center os over 2 hours away. If they had more Smart Centers they would sell more cars and we wouldn't be at the bottom of every list....And they should be DEDICATED Smart centers.....stand alone and not a back room of a MB dealership. GM had separate dealerships for Cadillac, Chevy, Pomtiac etc,...DCO
 

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MY08 cabrio MY09 cabrio Brabus MY15 ED
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If they had more Smart Centers they would sell more cars and we wouldn't be at the bottom of every list....And they should be DEDICATED Smart centers.....stand alone and not a back room of a MB dealership. GM had separate dealerships for Cadillac, Chevy, Pomtiac etc,...DCO
DCO you are kind - smart showroom is usually the M-B dealer's OUT HOUSE!
 

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Here's how I interpret the survey results for smart:


  • Build a cookie cutter "BORING" car with 4 seats, and your positive surveys will go up without a doubt
  • Build a cookie cutter 1.8L 4 cylinder engine, move it to the front, take away turbo, take away dual clutch, end up with a car the same size as a mini cooper, and your surveys will go up
  • The fuel filler/tank/fillup/gauge inaccuracies are absolutely killing the smart car satisfaction surveys
  • Too many owners are missing out on the Cross Connect App because it was not available for the majority of time the new model has been released
  • Folks are also over-criticizing the cradle because it doesn't fit their iPhone 6S Plus or Galaxy Notes or other larger phones/tablets even though most of them do still technically fit in the cradle. (They technically fit, while simultaneously technically not fitting)
Let another year or two pass, and the fuel issue will be rectified, the phone cradle concerns and smartphone app will be more widely accepted as folks learn how to use it and the surveys will improve. It won't be "dead last" running away. Some misunderstandings are always involved with those surveys which is why it's more important to me to learn the ins and outs of everything I buy. What one person can't figure out has no relevance to me if I've got it all figured out.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I will say. Kia got a hit with the Soul. We rented a couple of them last summer. +20k mile on each. Everything worked. Drove from KC to Chicago, and back. Quiet on the highway. Very comfortable vehicle. Great gas milage too. My iPhone connected right up to the sound system, Bluetooth. I wouldn't have given a Korean car a second look 10 years ago.

 

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We too have had our Kia Soul purchased new in 2012. We have had absolutely no issues with it to complain about, too. We have maybe 3-4 more payments left on it before it is paid off. It is my wife's car and she loves the thing. However, when we purchase another new car, she has already decided upon a Honda CRV, as we had one in the past before the Soul and she loved it, too. I think she is just tired of the body style of the Soul and thus wants to try out another Honda next. Me, I don't personally care for either, but it is her car to love or hate, just as the Smart is mine.

One thing to look at in all the cars mentioned in this article is the length and type of warranty each has and how good the company is about honoring the warranty. If it costs you a ton of money each time you go to the dealership to have any routine maintenance or warranty work done, then I'd bet the complaints would pile up pretty quickly about any make/model vehicle. Our Kia has been ticking along like a good Timex watch, so far. I have to say that will my fingers crossed, as I have had a Neon, a Chevy S-10 and a Geo Metro in the past that all had the engines or trannys go out just as the last car payment on them was due.

The types of complaints can actually be quite a difference, too in pondering. The gas tank issue may not be such a problem for some with the new Smart Cars, but it can be a major frustration for others. How they balance that out as to true severity is anyone's guess.
 

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Had my first '08 smart 5 1/2 years, zero problems. Now have my second '08 smart, 23K miles, hope it's as good. Just traded in Kia Soul, 2013, that had 76K on it, no problems. I think people who buy a smart without first dipping their fingers in a computer and doing some actual research end up frustrated and disappointed.
 

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Had my first '08 smart 5 1/2 years, zero problems. Now have my second '08 smart, 23K miles, hope it's as good. Just traded in Kia Soul, 2013, that had 76K on it, no problems. I think people who buy a smart without first dipping their fingers in a computer and doing some actual research end up frustrated and disappointed.
I agree with that, both ways. Some people let the Internet talk them out of a perfectly fine car, while also letting the Internet convince them which car to buy.
 
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