The results of the 2017 JD Power Survey are out and some of the cars featuring in it could be unfamiliar to our region. However, it still warrants some attention as the results of the study does have an influence on many brands that are present here.
The JD Power Initial Quality Study is about owner satisfaction with new car quality in the first 90 days of owning it. The study is important for two reasons – one, it’s been around for 30 years; two, it deals with perceived quality based on actual experience. The 2017 IQS tabulates responses from almost 80,000 verified new vehicle owners, on almost 233 parameters across eight categories. These categories are (in my words): cabin climate, driving experience, seats, drive train, functions interface, interior, exterior and telematics (communication, entertainment and navigation).
Does ‘problem-free’ truly mean ‘good’?
JD Power IQS doesn’t measure how good the car is. Instead it ranks the vehicles in terms of how few the problems faced (or felt) are – the point system counts the number of problems reported for every 100 vehicles (PP100). According to this method, the fewer the problems; the better the car.
Coming to think of it, a problem-free brand new car needn’t be the sign of a healthy brand. That is the thing about new things. They work. Now, going by Murphy’s law, they wait till the warranty expiration date to stop working. That said, a perfectly functioning brand new car could be imply of a reliable brand, if there are enough new cars to build up a number. At the JD Power Ratings compilation, 100 is the number of people who should own a particular model for it to be recorded in the study.
Key observations in short: General Quality of vehicles is at its best, having improved 8% across categories. Only the third time in this survey’s history, and the second time in succession, American (‘home brands’ for the survey) have outperformed import brands; the most complaints seem to hover around the communication and navigation zone while the Koreans seem to have outshone the Japs, the Continentals and the Yankees!
Non-premium brands have performed better than Premium brands (there, didn’t we all suspect that?)
How relevant is the JD Power IQS?
Now, this disclaimer belongs at the start rather than fine print at the end. While the JD Power Initial Quality Study is looked up to by many automobile brands to help improve their features and correct them even, the legitimacy and relevance of these observations are at times questionable, as they could arise from reasons other than a drop in quality or defective functioning per se.
For instance, sometimes, the response-driver could be the lack of familiarity, or a resistance towards something new, whether it is good or bad in the long run. On the other hand, when a plethora of new features impress customers, the fact remains that a more complicated feature set could form the base for possible issues in the longer run. Anyway, the words of Dave Sargent, vice president, global automotive at J.D. Power are reassuring: “Today’s vehicles have more things that could go wrong but fewer things that actually do go wrong.”
Incidentally, wary manufacturers who develop cold feet about losing market share, base their ‘improvements’ on these populist responses. So when the survey states that 27 of 33 brands in the study have improved their quality compared with 2016, it is also a statement illuminating how indispensable a force the survey is in shaping the future of automobile!
J D Power survey, while it is one of the few commendable and dependable surveys of its kind, is poised between “Customer knows best” and “They don’t know what’s good for them!”
The top brand and models
Having made that bit clear, let’s get on with knowing the cars with the least problems in the J D Power IQS survey 2017. Conspicuous by their absence are brands like Audi, Honda and Jaguar, perhaps because their numbers don’t add up enough in the States or even because some of their improvements have been too quick for the intake of customers. Anyway, for whatever it is worth, to simply cement our traditional trust in some of the models or to muse at public perception, here are the models chosen by customer responses for having the least problems in the first 90 days of ownership.
Kia ranks highest in overall initial quality with a score of 72 PP100. The brand topped the list last year too! Genesis (77PP100) ranks second, followed by Porsche (78 PP100). Ford and Ram are both tied in the fourth position (86 PP100).
Kia (Hyundai Motor Co. as the parent) is the happiest brand with five of its models making it to the top – Kia Cadenza, Kia Forte, Kia Niro, Kia Sorento, and Kia Soul. It is followed by General Motors and BMW with four each. The GM models are Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Silverado HD, Chevrolet Sonic, and GMC Terrain. BMW leaves its mark in the survey with the 2 Series, 4 Series, X6, and MINI Cooper. Other models that top their respective segments of the IQS are the Chrysler Pacifica, Ford Expedition, Ford Mustang, Infiniti QX80, Lexus GS, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Nissan Frontier, Porsche 911, Porsche Macan and Toyota Camry.
Mini, Volvo and Ford have improved their acceptance with fewer ‘problems’ than in 2016.
Top rated Small SUVs in the Initial Quality Study
2017 Buick Encore, 2017 Chevrolet Equinox, 2017 Ford Escape, 2017 GMC Terrain, 2017 Hyundai Tucson, 2017 Kia Niro, 2017 Kia Sportage, 2017 Nissan Rogue, 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan
Top rated Family SUVs in the Initial Quality Study
2017 Buick Enclave, 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe, 2017 Ford Expedition, 2017 Ford Explorer, 2017 Kia Sorento, 2017 Toyota Highlander, 2017 Toyota Sequoia
Top rated Luxury SUVs in Initial Quality Study
2017 Acura RDX, 2017 BMW X3, 2016 BMW X4, 2017 Lincoln MKC, 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, 2017 Porsche Macan
Top rated Super Luxury SUVs in Initial Quality Study
2017 BMW X5, 2017 BMW X6, 2017 Infiniti QX80, 2017 Lincoln Navigator, 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, 2017 Porsche Cayenne
Top rated Small Cars in the Initial Quality Study
2017 Chevrolet Cruze, 2017 Chevrolet Sonic, 2017 Hyundai Elantra, 2017 Kia Forte, 2017 Kia Soul, 2017 Mini Cooper, 2017 Toyota Corolla, 2017 Toyota Yaris, 2017 Volkswagen Jetta
Top rated Family Cars in the Initial Quality Study
2017 Chrysler Pacifica, 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan, 2017 Hyundai Sonata, 2017 Kia Cadenza, 2017 Kia Optima, 2017 Nissan Altima, 2017 Nissan Maxima, 2017 Toyota Avalon, 2017 Toyota Camry
Top rated Coupes and Convertibles in Initial Quality Study
2017 BMW 2 Series (Small Premium Cars), 2017 BMW 4 Series (Compact Premium Cars), 2017 Cadillac ATS, 2017 Ford Mustang (Midsize Sporty Car), 2017 Mini Cooper (Compact Midsize Premium Sporty Cars), 2017 Porsche 911 (Midsize Premium Sporty Cars)
Top rated Luxury Cars in Initial Quality Study
2017 BMW 2 series, 2017 BMW 4 series, 2017 Cadillac ATS, 2017 Lexus ES, 2017 Lexus GS, 2017 Lincoln Continental, 2017 Porsche 911
Top rated Trucks in Initial Quality Study
2017 Chevrolet Silverado HD, 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 500, 2017 Ford F-Series Super Duty, 2017 Nissan Frontier, 2017 Ram 1500, 2017 Toyota Tundra