x

Embed

x
CLOSE

South Korean automotive brands topped the ranks in one of the auto industry’s most closely watched quality surveys.
USA TODAY

For a second straight year, Kia has taken the top spot in one of the auto industry’s most closely watched quality surveys.

The company is part of South Korean conglomerate Hyundai, and, as if to underscore its success, another Hyundai corporate brand, luxury maker Genesis, took second place in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, which J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study ranks brands by the number of flaws found by owners in their new cars in first 90 days.  Genesis is a relatively new stand-alone brand, having been established in an announcement from Hyundai in late 2015.

Detroit’s Big 3 — General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler — all showed improvement, J.D. Power said. For the second year, the three collectively had fewer problems reported in their vehicles than import brands.

But it was the double win by Kia and Genesis that could get the most attention. South Korea’s best-known nameplate, Hyundai, came in eighth out of 32 — fifth if ties are taken into account — a respectable showing. Together, it marks a huge rise by the South Korean brands. Hyundai and Kia both got off to rocky starts when they first showed up in the U.S. decades ago because of quality issues. Recognizing that quality had become a top issue with buyers, they embarked on improvement — including a better warranty to reassure buyers.

“Our back-to-back chart-topping … performances reconfirm Kia’s status as today’s world-class automaker and reflect the exacting standards and craftsmanship our team members instill into every car, crossover and SUV Kia builds,” said Michael Sprague, chief operating officer of Kia Motors America

The study is based on responses from nearly 80,000 purchasers, said J.D. Power. The study found that technology in cars, particularly infotainment systems, is improving, but still remains a trouble spot. Issues like voice-recognition systems that can’t understand drivers and smartphones that won’t pair with the car have been an ongoing issue.

The study also found that some key high-tech safety systems like collision avoidance and lane departure features, also draw complaints. “An increasing number of consumer-reported problems sounds warning bells for automakers and suppliers,” the study said.

On points, Kia has 72 problems per 100 owners in the first 90 days — down from 83 last year. Genesis received a score of 77.

After Porsche came in third place with 78 points, the Ford and Ram brands tied for fourth with 86. Ram had a spectacular rise in the rankings, coming up from 20th place in last year’s study.

It was Mini that received the distinction of the most-improved brand, jumping 17 spots from 29th place to 12th. Toyota, by contrast, fell from fifth place last year to 14th this year.

In this year’s study, quality improved across seven of the eight categories measured, with 27 of the 32 brands in the study improving.

Now, new-vehicle quality is at its highest level ever, improving 8% from last year.

“The Initial Quality Study continues to demonstrate the critical importance of automakers responding to consumer feedback regarding vehicle quality,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power, in a statement. “Any automaker that stands still will quickly start to fall behind. For consumers, the great news is that significant improvements are occurring in all model segments, meaning that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a quality vehicle.”

The study was designed to provide automakers with customer feedback on the quality of new vehicles so that they can benchmark that against their competitors, and to provide consumers with information to help them to make informed car-buying choices, according to the J.D. Power.

Top three models per segment


Small Car: Chevrolet Sonic, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit


Small Premium Car: BMW 2 Series, BMW i3, Lexus CT


Compact Car: Kia Forte, Chevrolet Cruze (tie), Toyota Corolla (tie), Volkswagen Jetta (tie)


Compact Sporty Car: Mini Cooper


Compact MPV: Kia Soul


Compact Premium Car: BMW 4 Series, Lexus ES, Cadillac ATS


Midsize Car: Toyota Camry, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima


Midsize Sporty Car: Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger


Minivan: Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Grand Caravan


Midsize Premium Car: Lexus GS, Lincoln Continental, Audi A7


Midsize Premium Sporty Car: Porsche 911


Large Car: Kia Cadenza, Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima


Small SUV: Kia Niro, Kia Sportage, Buick Encore (tie), Volkswagen Tiguan (tie)


Small Premium SUV: Mercedes-Benz GLA, BMW X1


Compact SUV: GMC Terrain, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox


Compact Premium SUV: Porsche Macan, BMW X3, BMW X4


Midsize SUV: Kia Sorento, Toyota Highlander, Buick Enclave


Midsize Premium SUV: BMW X6, BMW X5, Porsche Cayanne


Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier, Chevrolet Colorado, Honda Ridgeline


Large SUV: Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Tahoe, Toyota Sequoia


Large Premium SUV: Infiniti QX80, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz GLS


Large Light Duty Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra


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