J.D. Power, which examines the quality of new vehicles, reported Wednesday that U.S. automakers are stepping up their game, improving the quality of their products and in turn, getting better marks from buyers.

Results of the firm’s annual survey released Wednesday showed that Chrysler, General Motors and Ford made solid year-over-year quality gains, which doubled the rate of import brands.

“Manufacturers are currently making some of the highest quality products we’ve ever seen,” Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “Tracking our data over the past several years, it has become clear that automakers are listening to the customer, identifying pain points and are focused on continuous improvement. Even as they add more content, including advanced technologies that have had a reputation for causing problems, overall quality continues to improve.”

More on the findings:

For just the second time in 30 years of the study, U.S. domestic brands had lower problem levels than imports. For the first time since 2006, non-premium brands had fewer problems reported by consumers than premium brands. Also, expected reliability remains the most important consideration when purchasing a new vehicle, cited by 49 percent of owners.

“There is a direct correlation between the number of problems a customer has with their new vehicle and the decisions they make when it comes time to purchase or lease their next car or truck,” said Stephens. “While a small drop in actual loyalty may not sound like much, a percentage point drop in share can mean millions of dollars in lost revenue to an automaker.”

Kia ranked highest in initial quality, the first time in 27 years that a non-premium brand has topped the rankings. It is also the second consecutive year that Kia, which ranked second in 2015, has led all non-premium makes in initial quality. Porsche ranked second, followed by Hyundai, Toyota and BMW. Chrysler and Jeep were the most improved brands.

General Motors received seven model-level awards, for  Buick Cascada; Chevrolet Equinox; Chevrolet Silverado HD; Chevrolet Silverado LD; Chevrolet Spark; Chevrolet Tahoe; and GMC Terrain. Toyota had six, with recognition going to Lexus CT; Lexus GS; Scion tC; Toyota Camry; Toyota Corolla; and Toyota Highlander.

Toyota also had two factories – at Georgetown, Ky., and  Kyushu in Japan – tie for Platinum Plant Quality Awards, a recognition for producing models with the fewest defects or malfunctions.

Hyundai and Volkswagen each had four models recognized – Hyundai’s branded Accent and Azera, plus Kia Soul and Kia Sportage – and VW’s segment-leaders, the Audi Q3, Audi TT, Porsche Macan and Porsche 911.

Ford ranked 11th in a ranking of problems reported per 100 vehicles by nameplate, with 102 problems reported. The Detroit automaker’s products made in Louisville – Escape and Expedition – both ranked third in their respective categories. Escape trailed the Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain, which tied, for the highest rated compact SUV. Chevy Tahoe and Toyota Sequoia, were first and second, respectively, in the large SUV class.

The study is based on responses from more than 80,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2016 model-year vehicles surveyed after 90 days of ownership. It’s based on 233 questions centered on eight problem categories, from navigation systems and seats to transmissions and air conditioners.

Reporter Grace Schneider can be reached at 502-582-4082 or gschneider@courier-journal.com.