Kia was the top-ranking mainstream brand with Hyundai right behind in J.D. Power's 2015 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS) results released today.
On average, the two Korean brands led those from all other countries by the widest margin ever, while the scores for Japanese brands collectively fell below the industry average for the first time in the 29-year history of the Initial Quality Study.
The annual study examines problems experienced by vehicle owners during their first 90 days of ownership. Initial quality is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.
For the third year in a row, Porsche was the highest-ranking nameplate overall in the study, with an average score of 80 PP100. Kia ranked second overall (86 PP100), followed by Jaguar (93), Hyundai (95), Infiniti (97) and BMW (99).
Infiniti was one of the most improved brands in the study, lowering its problem score by 31 PP100 from 2014.
Overall, the industry average of112 PP100 represented a 3% improvement over last year's average of 116 PP100.
The Korean brands averaged just 90 PP100, an 11% improvement from 2014, while . the European brands (113) surpassed the Japanese (114) for the first time and American makes (114) equaled the Japanese for only a second time.
Even though the Japanese brands experienced a 2 PP100 improvement from 2014, on average, those from the other countries improved even more. Only four of the 10 Japanese brands included in the study posted an improvement.
“This is a clear shift in the quality landscape,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power. “For so long, Japanese brands have been viewed by many as the gold standard in vehicle quality.
"While the Japanese automakers continue to make improvements, we’re seeing other brands, most notably Korean makes, really accelerating the rate of improvement," he added.
"Leading companies are not only stepping up the pace of improvements on existing models, but are also working up front to launch vehicles with higher quality and more intuitive designs.”
The overall scores (PP 100) for all automakers by brand are as follows: