The results of J.D. Power and Associates' annual Initial Quality Study (IQS) for new vehicles, now in its 28th year, finds the number of problems experienced by new-vehicle owners has increased from the previous year.
The average number of problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), during their first 90 days of ownership, increased from 113 last year to 116 for 2014. (Last year's scores couldn't be compared to those of previous years because of revisions to the scoring system.)
For a second consecutive year, Porsche was the highest-ranking nameplate in the study, with an average score of 80 PP100, followed by Jaguar (87), Lexus (92) and Hyundai (94).
Also for the second consecutive year, General Motors received the most individual segment awards – six – for the Buick Encore (tie); Chevrolet Malibu; Chevrolet Silverado HD; Chevrolet Suburban (tie); GMC Terrain; and GMC Yukon (tie).
Hyundai/Kia as a combined company took five awards for the Hyundai Accent, Elantra and Genesis and the Kia Cadenza and Sportage (tie).
Other automakers with multiple awards include Ford (Ford Edge and F-150 LD and Lincoln MKX); Nissan/Infiniti (Nissan JUKE [tie] and Infiniti QX50 and QX80); Porsche (Porsche 911, Boxster and Panamera); Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Challenger); and Mazda (Mazda MAZDA5 and MX-5 Miata).
Individual awards went to Honda for its Ridgeline pickup and Lexus for its ES sedan.
Last year's best-scoring vehicle, the Lexus LS with just 59 PP100, was bested in its class by the Porsche Panamera this year.
The study identified two primary causes of the increased problem levels in 2014:
> First, newly launched vehicles scored more problems than carryover models (128 PP100, compared with 113) primarily because of compalints in the areas of voice recognition, Bluetooth pairing and audio systems.
According to David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power , some customers complained that the technology, " is hard to understand, difficult to use, or simply does not always work as designed."
> Second, the impact of this winter's severe weather conditions seemed to take a toll on some new vehicles, particularly in the heating/ventilation/air conditioning, exterior, and engine/transmission categories.
"It is impossible to completely negate the effects of severe weather, "said Sargent. "Consumers generally understand this but still report problems when their vehicle does not wholly live up to their expectations."
The study, based on responses from more than 86,000 U.S. purchasers and lessees of new 2014 model-year vehicles, after 90 days of ownership, was conducted between February and May 2014.