Also, much-needed good news for the domestic brands in J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study: Ford, GM and Chrysler have improved 10% versus a year ago. That is also better than the industry-wide 8% improvement rate measured in problems reported per 100 vehicles.
"The Detroit automakers are keeping their focus on designing and building high-quality vehicles, which is a precondition for long-term success," David Sargent, VP of automotive research at the firm, says. "High quality also enhances an automaker's reputation for reliability, which is a critical purchase consideration."
Lexus, which has been a perennial leader in durability and quality studies, was again on top in overall initial quality. After Lexus in the overall rankings category come Porsche, Cadillac, Hyundai, and Honda, rounding out the top five. Suzuki posts the largest improvement in ranking, moving from 32nd place in 2008 to 9th in 2009.
Cadillac moved up from 10th place and Hyundai from 13th. But the biggest jump in quality is Suzuki, which jumped from 32nd place in 2008 to 5th place this year.
The firm says that another industry-wide improvement is in the quality of newly launched vehicles, which traditionally have required a shakedown cruise. The firm says the Hyundai Genesis, Kia Borrego, Toyota Venza and Volkswagen CC actually outperformed the average initial quality of all vehicles in their segments.
Says Sargent: "Now that more manufacturers are getting their launch quality right straight out of the gate, consumers can expect the quality of new vehicles to continue to rise."
Toyota Motor had the most vehicles at the top of its respective segments in initial quality, with 10 awards: five for Lexus, four for Toyota and one for Scion. The vehicle with the fewest problems reported of any car or truck in the industry is the Lexus LX.
Ford was next with three vehicles in the top tier: Ford Edge; F-150 and Mustang. Nissan and Honda both have two winners for the Altima and Z; and CR-V and Ridgeline, respectively.