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J.D. Power & Associates 2011 Initial Quality Study Results

J.D.Power IQS Study Tracks Problems Per 100 Vehicles...So, The Lower the # The Higher The Quality

According to JD Power and Associates, despite modest improvement in initial quality on both newly developed models and new version of existing models over the last 5 years, the trend has not continued and initial quality for newly developed models for 2011 is down, as is reported in the organization’s newest study.

The Initial Quality Study, conducted by JD Power for the last 25 years, is a survey of recent buyers and lessees of 2011 models.  Owners are contacted after 90 days with the cars and are given a 228-question survey designed to provide the manufacturers with information to “facilitate identifying problems and drive product improvement.”

The unit of measure used in the IQS is problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), which rates how many reported problems there were per 100 vehicles in the study.  The lower the PP Score, the better. Overall, IQS for 2011 jumps from 107 PP100 in 2010 to 109 PP100.  However, brand new or major redesigned vehicles leap from 111 PP100 in 2010 to 122 PP100 in 2011.  In contrast, continuing, unchanged models dropped to 103 PP100 from 108 PP100 in 2010.

Now that reads like a lot of mumbo jumbo…so here’s what it means:

Initial quality on vehicles is down…not markedly, but noticeably.  It isn’t so bad if you are getting a vehicle that has been around or is in its same style as last year, but if you are looking to get a new model or a greatly changed model, you might want to wait a bit.

What is causing this?  All indications point to the great technology that we crave in our cars…built-in, handsfree devices, Bluetooth, voice-activated technology.  While it is a great service and enhances the value and safety of the car, because these systems require more technology and are less intuitive than other, less tech laden add ons.  According to JD Power, overall problem rates for these tech systems in 2011 are 18 percent higher than last year and 28 percent higher than 2009.

Among the vehicle specific rankings, Lexus leads the overall nameplate rankings with 73 PP100 on average. Following in the rankings are Honda (which improves to second rank position in 2011 from sixth in 2010), Acura, Mercedes-Benz and Mazda (which improves to fifth rank position in 2011 from 18th in 2010), respectively. Land Rover posts the largest improvement in 2011, reducing problems by 47 PP100 from 2010.

Honda garners seven segment awards for the Accord, Accord Crosstour, Civic (in a tie), Element, Fit, Insight (in a tie) and Ridgeline. Lexus receives four segment awards for the ES, GS, GX and LS models. For a second consecutive year, the Lexus LS has the fewest quality problems in the industry with just 54 PP100.

Chevrolet, Ford and Mercedes-Benz receive two awards each. Chevrolet receives awards for the HHR and the Tahoe; Ford for the F-150 and the Taurus; and Mercedes-Benz for the GLK-Class and the E-Class cabriolet/coupe. Also receiving segment awards are the Cadillac Escalade; Chrysler Town & Country; Dodge Challenger; and Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Among all-new and redesigned models, the Hyundai Equus and Dodge Durango are notably strong performers, each ranking second in their respective segment.

For more info, check out the J.D. Power & Associates IQS Study Press Release, and for more information on new vehicles, check out our New Cars Section.