Kia tops new car quality survey for second straight year

The 2017 Kia Sportage is introduced at the LA Auto Show in Los Angeles

The J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Initial Quality Study has been released.

"When Kia beat out the entire industry in last year's J.D. Power Initial Quality Study many people wondered if we could maintain such a lofty position".

The survey questioned 80,000 owners of 2017 model year vehicles about the problems they had in the first 90 days of ownership.

The good news: 27 of 32 brands ranked in the survey showed an improvement in quality, with the Big Three brands doing better than import brands for a second straight year.

For the second straight year, Detroit-based brands outscored foreign nameplates with fewer new-car problems, according to the J.D. Quality improved in every category except for displays and controls, which saw an uptick in complaints about newer features like lane departure warning systems and blind spot detection. As competitors led by the Koreans catch up, Lexus models are now merely near the middle of the pack - the industry average for brands this year improved to a rate of 97 problems. "The industry has improved significantly in each of the past three years".

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"Japanese brands that once dominated the Top 10 among J.D. Powers" IQS rankings have suffered problems with audio/communications/entertainment/navigation (ACEN) systems, Sargent said. "The assembly quality is still world-class, (but) there's a lot of usability problems in these vehicles which customers are increasingly complaining about". Consumer Reports' auto testing director, Jake Fisher, says one reason Kia does well in such surveys is that it uses time-tested older technology from its sister brand, Hyundai.

Toyota Motor Corp.'s Kyushu 2 plant (Japan), which produces the Lexus ES and Lexus RX, receives the Platinum Plant Quality Award for producing models with the fewest defects or malfunctions.

Luxury brands have one excuse for the falling rankings: They tend to pack their cars with more of the latest electronic gadgets, creating more opportunities for things to go wrong.

J.D. Power also bestows plant-quality awards as part of IQS, based exclusively on defects and malfunctions, not design-related issues. As a result, J.D. Power said it does not have enough responses from Tesla owners to include in the survey. The study uses a 233-question survey created to provide manufacturers with information to facilitate the identification of problems and drive product improvement.

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