A new reliability study by J.D. Power and Associates finds cars are just about the most dependable they’ve ever been, no matter whether you’re talking about domestic or import vehicles.
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High-quality products from every corner of the auto market
The J.D. Power 2016 Initial Quality Ratings & Awards measures the level of problems owners encounter in new cars after they’ve had them for 90 days.
Top brand honors in the survey go to Kia, followed by Porsche, Hyundai and Toyota. Rounding out the top five is BMW.
‘Manufacturers are currently making some of the highest quality products we’ve ever seen,’ said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power. ‘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.’
To arrive at its findings, J.D. Power asked new owners about 233 common problems that fell into the following eight categories:
- Driving Experience
- Features/Controls/Displays (FCD)
- Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
- Audio/Communication/Entertainment/Navigation (ACEN)
A look at the scores
The J.D. Power study assesses how many problems occur for a given nameplate per 100 new vehicles.
So Kia owners reported 83 problems per 100 cars, which beats the industry average of 105 problems per 100 cars.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Smart Car (a Mercedes-Benz product) had a whopping 216 problems per 100 cars. That means an average of two or more complaints by every owner who was surveyed in the first 90 days of ownership!
Overall, though, 21 of the 33 brands in the study improved their showing since the last tally. Most improved brand honors this year go to Chrysler and Jeep.
The reality is that the car market is so competitive that manufacturers have to churn out good cars just to survive. There are so many cars available with a price tag of the mid-teens to high-teens that are better than a fancy car was 20 years ago. Cars made today are much safer and get much better fuel economy.
Now, the inevitable question: Since newer cars are so reliable, so should you buy a new car before you need one? Well, if you have great wealth and no debts in your life, then it’s fine. But if you just paid off your old car, Clark would rather you keep driving it until the wheels fall off.
Too many people ditch cars because they’re bored with them. That’s the wrong reason to get out of a car. Do it only when it comes time in your natural buying cycle when your old wheels are well past the point of repair.
Here’s another look at the J.D. Power findings broken out by segment of the auto industry:
Top 3 models by segment
City Car: Chevrolet Spark
Small Car: Hyundai Accent, Chevrolet Sonic, Kia Rio
Small Premium Car: Lexus CT, BMW 2 Series, Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class
Compact Car: Toyota Corolla, Kia Forte, Hyundai Elantra
Compact Sporty Car: Buick Cascada (tie), Scion tC (tie), Hyundai Veloster
Compact MPV: Kia Soul
Compact Premium Car: Lincoln MKZ, Lexus ES, BMW 3 Series
Compact Premium Sporty Car: Audi TT, Porsche Boxster, Porsche Cayman
Midsize Car: Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord
Midsize Sporty Car: Dodge Challenger
Minivan: Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan
Midsize Premium Car: Lexus GS, Audi A7, Hyundai Genesis
Midsize Premium Sporty Car: Porsche 911
Large Car: Hyundai Azera, Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala
Small SUV: Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Buick Encore
Small Premium SUV: Audi Q3, BMW X1
Compact SUV: Chevrolet Equinox (tie), GMC Terrain (tie), Ford Escape
Compact Premium SUV: Porsche Macan, Lincoln MKC, BMW X3
Midsize SUV: Toyota Highlander, Kia Sorento, Nissan Murano
Midsize Premium SUV: BMW X5, BMW X6, Lexus RX
Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier, GMC Canyon, Chevrolet Colorado
Large SUV: Chevrolet Tahoe, Toyota Sequoia, Ford Expedition
Large Premium SUV: Lincoln Navigator, Infiniti QX80, Land Rover Range Rover
Large Light Duty Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado LD, GMC Sierra LD
Large Heavy Duty Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado HD, Ford Super Duty, GMC Sierra HD