Kia tops new car quality survey for second straight year

For the second straight year, Kia scored highest in an initial quality ranking for new cars, according to the findings of the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Initial Quality Study that was released today. Once America's top-selling luxury brand, Lexus has slipped in part due to issues with complicated electronics systems.

Early warning bells for autonomous technology: The only category to worsen this year is features, controls and displays. Ford and Ram each came in significantly below the industry average (97 PP100) with 86 reported problems per 100 vehicles. Overall, the quality level was the highest ever, improving eight percent from a year ago. Other brands with strong improvement include Ram, Acura, Volvo, and Ford.

Korean brands, meanwhile, have been improving for years.

As usual, the Power study ranks individual vehicles as well as brands.

The annual report analyzed responses from 77,415 respondents with regards to 243 vehicle models across 26 segments.

"Today's vehicles have more things that could go wrong but fewer things that actually do go wrong", said Dave Sargent, vice president, global automotive at J.D. Power, in a press release. Quality is improving for most brands and some have moved up dramatically in their ranking. Last year, Lexus was tied for seventh place.

Fiat, Jaguar Land Rover's luxury vehicle brand Jaguar and Volvo were at the bottom. Based on reported problems, the quality of a number of luxury add-ons including cruise control, lane departure warnings, collision alert systems, and blind spot warning systems, got worse.

The traditional Detroit Three automakers performed better than import brands for the second year in a row and only the third time in the study's 31-year history.

Japanese brands suffered a higher mix of design problems, with generally fewer defects, while domestic brands were the inverse, Sargent said.

Mini was the most improved brand in the survey, with owners reporting 94 problems per vehicle, down from 127 problems in 2016.

Ranking last was Fiat, with a rate of 163 problems.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's FCAU.N Ram and US automaker Ford Motor Co's F.N namesake brand shared the fourth position.

  • Arturo Norris