For the first time in 27 years, a non-premium brand ranked number-one in J.D. Power’s annual Initial Quality Study (IQS) of new vehicles for 2016.
For the first time ever, that illustrious title was claimed by a Korean brand – Kia.
With a score of 83 reported problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) during the first 90 days of ownership, Kia narrowly beat out Porsche (84 PP100), which had claimed the top spot for the past three years.
Kia’s sibling brand, Hyundai, ranked third (92), followed by Toyota (93) and BMW (94). Toyota is the only other non-premium brand to have topped the IQS charts, back in 1989.
Overall new-vehicle quality improved by 6% in 2016, double the 3% rate of improvement last year and the greatest increase since 2009, according to J.D. Power. The average score for the industry was 105 PP100.
The five lowest scoring brands were Mini (127), Land Rover (132), Volvo (152), Fiat (174) and Smart (216).
Kia’s ascent to the number-one position was no fluke but the result of a concentrated focus on quality by the brand. The Korean marque ranked second overall and highest among non-premium brands in 2015 with a score of 86 PP100.
Both the Sportage and Soul ranked best in their segments and three other Kia models were among the top three in their respective categories
“Ranking number one in the entire industry for initial quality is the result of Kia’s decade-long focus on craftsmanship and continuous improvement, and reflects the voice of our customers, which is the ultimate affirmation,” said Michael Sprague, COO of Kia Motors America. “As the highest ranked brand in the industry, there is no doubt Kia is a world-class automaker,” he added.
“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 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 (PP100), 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.