The three brands of the Hyundai-Kia conglomerate are at the head of this year’s J. D. Power Initial Quality Study in the US market. Genesis heads the pack with 68, Kia follows with 72 and Hyundai gets 74 problems per 100 vehicles.

Initial quality is measured by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100) during the first 90 days of ownership, with a lower score reflecting higher quality. In this year’s study, quality improves across six of the eight categories measured, with 21 of the 31 brands included in the study improving their quality from 2017. The industry average of 93 PP100 is 4 PP100 better than in 2017.

“There’s no question that most automakers are doing a great job of listening to consumers and are producing vehicle quality of the highest caliber,” said Dave Sargent, Vice President of Global Automotive at J.D. Power. “That said, some vehicle owners are still finding problems. As vehicles become more complex and automated, it is critical that consumers have complete confidence in automakers’ ability to deliver fault-free vehicles.”

Following are some key findings of the 2018 study:

  • Most vehicle areas improve: Of the eight categories measured, vehicle exterior improves the most, now at 15.2 PP100, compared with 16.6 PP100 in 2017. Improvements include less wind noise and fewer paint imperfections. Significant year-over-year improvements also occur in the seats (8.0 PP100 vs. 8.7 PP100) and vehicle interior (14.3 PP100 vs. 14.7 PP100) categories.
  • Porsche 911 posts best score of any model: The Porsche 911 has the lowest overall problem level (48 PP100) of any model this year. This is also the lowest level recorded in this generation of the study (2013-2018).
  • All domestic corporations improve faster than the industry: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (7 PP100 improvement), Ford Motor Company (5 PP100 improvement) and General Motors (5 PP100 improvement) all outpace the industry average rate of improvement (4 PP100).
  • Infotainment problems are decreasing: Audio/Communication/Entertainment/Navigation (ACEN) remains the most problematic category for new-vehicle owners. However, this area has improved for the third consecutive year, led by fewer problems with built-in voice recognition systems.
  • Globalization of auto industry continues: Vehicles in the 2018 study are manufactured in 25 countries, 11 of which weren’t present in the study five years ago. Those 11 countries include Brazil, China, Finland, India, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Spain, Thailand and Turkey. The other 14 countries include Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States.
  • Increasing problems with driver assistance systems: As automakers add more advanced driver assistance systems to their vehicles, more consumers are experiencing problems. The level is still low (3.5 PP100 on average) but has been increasing by about 20% a year for the past three years.

“As we look to the future, avoiding problems with safety and driver assistance technology is critical,” Sargent said. “In an era of increasingly automated vehicles, vehicle owners have to be comfortable using foundational technologies like lane keep assistance and collision avoidance. Otherwise, automakers will not easily overcome consumer resistance to fully automated (driverless) cars.”

Mazda is the most-improved brand, with owners reporting 25 PP100 fewer problems than in 2017. Other brands with strong improvements include Mitsubishi (20 PP100 improvement), Cadillac (15 PP100 improvement), Infiniti (15 PP100 improvement), Hyundai (14 PP100 improvement) and Lexus (14 PP100 improvement).

Besides this, these models ranked highest in their respective segments:

Small car: Kia Rio

Compact car: Toyota Corolla

Small Premium car: Acura ILX

Compact Premium car: BMW 4 series

Midsize car: Nissan Altima

Midsize Premium car: Lincoln Continental

Midsize Sporty car: Ford Mustang

Large car: Nissan Maxima

Minivan: Dodge Grand Caravan

Large Premium car: Genesis G90

Small SUV: Hyundai Tucson

Small Premium SUV: BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA

Compact SUV: Buick Envision

Compact Premium SUV: Lincoln MKC

Midsize SUV: Kia Sorento

Midsize Premium SUV: BMW X6

Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier

Large SUV: Ford Expedition

Large Light Duty Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado

Large Heavy Duty Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado HD and Ford Super Duty

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