Kia tops the car quality charts
In recent years Korean carmakers have been surging ahead of other mass market marques for vehicle quality and reliability, but, as the latest JD Power study shows, Kia has now surpassed even premium brands such as Porsche and BMW.
The JD Power 2016 US Initial Quality Study ranks Kia as the most reliable car band on sale today in America and singles out the 2016 Soul and 2016 Sportage for special praise.
The annual report, which invites new car owners to rank their experiences with their vehicle in terms of problems and issues over the first 90 days, shows that Kia scored 83PP100 -- that's Problems Per 100 vehicles. That score puts it one point ahead of Porsche (84) and nine ahead of third placed Hyundai, Kia's sister company. With 93 points Toyota nabbed fourth place and BMW managed fifth with 94.
It is the first time in 27 years that a non-premium marque has topped the overall table. However, given the rate at which Kia is making progress, the results shouldn't be surprising. In 2015, Kia was second for overall quality and first for mass-market brands.
But, Kia's surge is good for all everyone. Its example is being followed by the rest of the pack. US firms in particular recorded some of their highest quality gains in recent history. Chrysler and Jeep have reduced their scores by 28PP100 over the last 12 months. What's more, the combined scores of the three big Detroit companies is now better than that of imported marques -- 103 versus 106.
All of which means that the automotive industry average for quality -- 105PP100 has improved by six points over the past 12 months.
"Manufacturers are currently making some of the highest quality products we've ever seen," said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power. "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."
The highest ranked US carmaker in this year's study (6th) is Chevrolet. Buick manages seventh ahead of Lexus in eighth, Lincoln is ninth and Ford made 11th place behind Nissan. At the other end of the table, Smart is the least reliable marque of this year's study (33rd place, 216 points) behind Fiat (32nd with 174 points) and Volvo (152 points).