Quality survey: Lexus tops, Fiat?

2012-06-21 10:11

Lexus makes the best-quality cars in the US, and automakers overall are much better at eliminating problems that land vehicles in the repair shop, according to a new JD Power survey of car owners.

Toyota's luxury brand had the fewest problems per 100 vehicles in a survey of 2012 models by research firm JD Power and Associates in the US.

The brand was followed by two other luxury carmakers, Jaguar and Porsche, which tied for second place. Cadillac and Honda rounded out the top five.

Cars and trucks sold in the US had the highest quality since JD Power started doing the study in 1987. Still, quality was hurt by widespread glitches in technology such as touch-screen controls and voice-recognition software, said David Sargent, the firm's automotive vice president.


Sargent said automakers have learned quality manufacturing techniques from top competitors, and they're using higher quality materials than in the past.

Quality has improved so much during the past decade that the difference between the best and worst brands is less than one problem per vehicle, according to the study.

Sargent said: "Everybody in the industry knows that if they don't keep improving, they're going to fall behind."

In the US survey, JD Power asked 74 000 people who bought or leased 2012 models about how reliable their vehicles were and whether they had problems with knobs, switches, electronics and other items in the first 90 days of ownership.

In the JD Power survey, the entire industry cut the number of problems per 100 vehicles by five to a score of 102.

Here are some highlights from the study:

Lexus owners reported only 73 problems per 100 vehicles. Lexus wins consistently because quality and customer service have guided the brand since its first car went on sale in 1989, Sargent said. Cadillac was Detroit's top entry at fourth, and Honda was the highest-ranking mainstream brand at fifth.

Italy's Fiat tied for last in quality with Mercedes' Smart brand. Both had 151 problems per 100 vehicles.

Ford and Lexus had the top cars or trucks in three categories. Infiniti, Nissan and Toyota each won two categories.

Sargent said the poor quality scores for new technology came because people had trouble adjusting to the devices, and because some of them don't operate right.

Electronics are making their way from luxury to mainstream brands where they are new to people. "There are a lot of problems where the system just doesn't work as designed," Sargent said.

Jaguar, which went from 21st place last year to second this year, and Nissan, which improved 11 spots to tie for 12th. Jaguar was weighed down last year by problems with the XJ model, which was new for 2011.

Fixing those problems vaulted the brand, which has only three models, toward the top, Sargent said. Nissan improved by hard work across all of its models, he said.

Troubles with touch screens and automatic transmissions continued to hurt Ford, which finished 27th out of 34 brands in the survey. Ford was a star in 2010 at fifth place, but tumbled when it introduced its complicated MyFordTouch screens.

Buyers also were annoyed with constant shifting by transmissions in small cars.


  • stuart.robinson.1829 - 2012-06-21 15:30

    Surely it should read faults per 1000, not 100? 73 per 100 is 73% or else put, more than 7 out of 10 vehicles have a problem? Imagine Merc, BMW and Audi?

      ronald.koenis.1 - 2012-06-21 18:36

      The article is correct it is per 100 vehicles. Any defect, (loose air filter housing, incorrect driving light height adjustment, loose stitching) is recorded as a fault. Some vehicles have multiple and thus not necessarily every 7 vehicles out of 10 will have one fault, that's just the average.

      ebon.geist - 2012-06-22 14:11

      @Stuart: Merc 9th place with 96 PP100. BMW 10th place with 97 PP100. Audi 16th place (below average) with 105 PP100. I assume you are questioning these results because like many people you believe that because these brands are premium German offering they simply have to the best? Think again... To be fair they didn't do badly, but my point is that popular opinion often differs from reality. Just because "everyone knows" that German Engineering is the best does not make it so.

      jack.trend.3 - 2012-06-24 16:45

      yeah, that is the USA, can only find the following SA report. 2010 SA Initial Quality Study Brand ranking Mercedes-Benz – 103 Honda – 121 Audi – 133 BMW – 138 Mazda – 142 Kia – 145 Volvo – 145 Suzuki – 147 Toyota – 172 Hyundai – 179 Land Rover – 184 Passenger vehicle average – 184 VW – 183 Chevrolet – 200 Daihatsu – 200 Ford – 212 Nissan – 260 Renault – 285 also faults per 100 vehicles.

  • colin.ashby.35 - 2012-06-21 15:44

    no mention of land rover, which used to be bottom of the heap.do they fall under the jaguar brand in quality

      ebon.geist - 2012-06-22 14:03

      If you go to the JD Power website for the US they have a graph of all the manufacturers and how they did. 34 manufacturers are represented at an industry average of 102 PP100. Top was Lexus at 73 PP100. Bottom were Fiat and Smart at 151 PP100. Land Rover was in 28th position with 119 PP100 right between Ford and VW.

  • ayo.mkize - 2012-06-22 08:52

    Lexus does it again well done

  • riotousr - 2012-06-22 08:59

    Anything new?

  • ben.bezuidenhout3 - 2012-06-22 09:14

    That's why I drive a Lexus :-))

  • sicebi.mthethwa - 2012-06-22 18:00

    Impressed with Jaguar.

  • Mike - 2012-06-22 20:29

    Lexus rules. The fit and finish, reliability and quality are the best in its class. I was looking to buy a E class merc(2003-2005 model), the dashboards are cracked,pieces are falling off inside, merc is real rubbish.

  • ronald.koenis.1 - 2012-06-25 18:17

    @ Ebon Geist, You also need to consider that the more luxurious vehicles have much more features and electronics, thus more prone to faults due to their complexity. Considering the latter, the german makes do perform remarkably well. For example on my own car (E-class) the only failures were Polution sensor controlling the automatic recirculation of the ventilation system being faulty, Left cornering motor of the xenon cornering beam mallfunctioned. These items are not standard or even possible in most toyotas, hondas etc.

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