Kia Tops J.D. Power Quality Study

Kia ranks the highest among nameplates, ending a 27-year streak for premium brands, in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Initial Quality Study.

U.S. new vehicle quality (Fiat Chrysler, General Motors and Ford) made its largest improvement in seven years. Overall new-vehicle quality has improved 6% -- double the 3% rate of improvement in 2015, and the largest increase since 2009.

The study, now in its 30th year, examines problems experienced by vehicle owners during the first 90 days of ownership. Initial quality is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles, with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

Quality improves across all eight problem categories measured in the study, with 21 of the 33 brands included in the study improving their quality in 2016 and one remaining the same.



Kia ranks highest in initial quality with a score of 83, 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. The Kia Sportage (Small SUV) and Kia Soul (Compact Multi-Purpose Vehicle) are recognized as best-in-segment; three additional models ranked among the top three in their respective categories.

Porsche (84) ranks second among nameplates, followed by Hyundai (92), Toyota (93) and BMW (94). Chrysler and Jeep are the most improved brands, each reducing the number of problems by 28 from 2015. General Motors receives seven model-level awards, followed by Toyota Motor Corporation with six and Hyundai Motor Company and Volkswagen AG, each with four.

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, says Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power.

“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,” Stephens said in a release.

Expected reliability remains the most important consideration when purchasing a new vehicle, cited by 49% of owners. J.D. Power has studied consumer behavior from when they purchase or lease their new vehicle through when they are back in the market for their next vehicle in order to measure the impact initial quality has on brand loyalty.

Among owners who experience no problems with their vehicle in the first 90 days, 54% stay with the same brand for their next vehicle. Loyalty drops to 50% among owners who experience one problem with their vehicle and to 45% among those who experience three or more problems.

The 2016 U.S. Initial Quality 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. The study is based on a 233-question battery organized into eight problem categories designed to provide manufacturers with information to facilitate the identification of problems and drive product improvement. The study was fielded from February through May 2016.

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