JD Power's initial quality ranking for the 2012 models is now out. The JD Power survey is the largest auto survey of its kind in the U.S. and the findings cover the first 90 days of ownership and over 200 individual items. While this survey does not cover long-term reliability, trends identified in past IQS surveys have frequently been reconfirmed in other long-term reliability studies. The IQS is important because it points to where the trends are going for different car companies, since other reliability studies cover large samples of cars that are no longer made.
The 2012 IQS results don't reveal a whole lot of big surprises. The findings seem to continue a number of themes that had been playing out over the past couple of years.
-In general, the overall industry average finds continued improvement in product quality. The industry average now shows 102 problems (defects, malfunctions, etc.) per 100 vehicles. In 2011, the number was 107, and 109 in 2010.
-The product quality improvements would have been even greater if not for the huge jump in problems associated with the audio, entertainment, and navigation systems. Since 2006, the overall number of problems has declined by 26%, but the audio/entertainment system problems have increased by 45%. With automakers now in an arms race trying to one up one another with technology features, this trend doesn't show any signs of slowing down.
-Lexus is back on top, and Jaguar made the biggest leap, going from #21 last year into the #2 spot for 2012.
-The top non-luxury brand is once again Honda, which ranks #5 overall. It helps that most of their 2012 lineup was carried over with minimal changes, and Honda has been exceedingly gun shy about deploying a lot of technology features into its cars. Consumer Reports found that the age of a car design has a big effect on reliability -- on average, a car model by its 3rd year of production will improve its reliability by ~15%.
-Problems with their Microsoft-designed touchscreen controls continue to drag Ford down the rankings. They are now #27 after rising to #5 just two years ago.
-Nissan rebounds after dropping down to #24 last year. They're now tied for 12th with GMC and Dodge/Ram.
-GM improved across the board, with Cadillac, GMC, and Chevy all ranking above the industry average, and their other divisions improving their ranking and PP100 scores.
-If not for Ford's woes, Hyundai would probably have made the biggest news with their continued slide down the IQS rankings. Hyundai was the top-ranked non-luxury brand three years ago at #4. They are now below the industry average, and tied for #18. No surprise, Hyundai has also been cramming technology features into their cars, and has introduced several new models over the past couple of years, including all new drivetrain designs.
-I expected to see Mazda also take a nosedive, because they introduced an all-new drivetrain for the Mazda3 (their biggest seller). But, while Mazda's ranking dropped from #5 to #10, their PP100 score actually improved, and the Mazda3 ranked #4 among all compact cars (behind the Toyota Corolla, Prius, and Honda Civic).
Here are the 2012 results:
2012 Nameplate IQS Ranking
Problems per 100 (PP100) Vehicles
Chevrolet 100 Industry Average 102
Land Rover 119
Wooch's Home Theater 2.0 (Pics)
Panasonic VIERA TH-C50FD18 50" 1080p
Paradigm Reference Studio 40, CC, and 20 v.2
Adire Audio Rava (EQ: Behringer Feedback Destroyer DSP1124)
Dual CS5000 (Ortofon OM30 Super)
Denon DVD-758 (DVD-1940ci)
Sony Playstation 3 (MediaLink OS X Server)
Sony ES SCD-C2000ES
Oppo Digital HM-31
Logitech Harmony 650