Kia breaks premium brands' 27-year run atop J.D. Power Initial Quality Study
Chrysler and Jeep earn honors for best improvement, and seven General Motors vehicles rest atop their respective segments.
Andrew KrokReviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study (IQS) might not be perfect, for reasons I'll get into below, but it still stands as one of the industry's markers of out-the-door quality. The group just released its IQS for 2016, and there's good news in there for most of the industry, especially Kia, which unseated premium brands from the survey's top spot for the first time in almost three decades.
Premium brands have held the top spot in IQS for 27 of the study's 30 years of existence. That changes this year, as Kia ranks highest in initial quality with a score of 83 experienced problems per 100 vehicles (PP100). Porsche comes in second place with a score of 84, with Hyundai (92), Toyota (93) and BMW (94) hot on its tail.
In terms of specific vehicle segments, General Motors is the leader, with seven top honors across different segments. Toyota, Hyundai and Volkswagen each capture four segment victories. Yes, there are a lot of segments.
Speaking of domestic automakers, this was a very good year for all three -- Ford, Chrysler and GM. This year marks the second time in 30 years that the Big Three have lower reported problem levels than imported brands. All three combined have improved 10 percent over last year, twice the improvement rate. The award for Overall Most-Improved goes to Chrysler and Jeep, both of which reduced their scores by 28 PP100.
As I said above, it's best to take these results with a grain of salt. As Autoblog excellently pointed out last year, IQS results cover everything from actual mechanical maladies to subjective issues, like, "This radio is confusing to me," or "I can't get my Bluetooth to work," which are largely user-error problems, but J.D. Power lumps them into its study anyway.
Individual segment rankings are included below, if you'd like to see them all.