The 2013 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study is out. According to the market research firm's latest data, automakers and dealerships cannot fix most problems new car owners experience because they concern vehicle design rather than a defect or malfunction that requires a remedy. J.D. Power reports nearly two-thirds of the problems experienced during the first 90 days of new-vehicle ownership are related to design, and only 9 percent of owners return to the dealership during the first three months to resolve the problem. Of those who ask the dealership for assistance, only 13 percent report the problem is fixed.

By contrast, the study finds that 28 percent of people reporting a defect or malfunction during the first 90 days take their new vehicle to the dealership for repairs, and the remedy success rate is 42 percent.

According to the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, many problems reported by new car owners are technology-related, including Bluetooth pairing, voice recognition and the infotainment system. Other frequently reported problems pertain to wind noise and materials easily dirtied or damaged. More than 83,000 people who bought a 2013 model year vehicle and owned it for at least 90 days took the survey.

David Sargent, vice president of global automotive for J.D. Power and Associates, reminds car buyers that when it comes to in-vehicle technology car companies are designing solutions for the broadest cross-section of consumers, and what works for most may not work for everyone.

Sargent also says dealership salespeople can reduce the number of technology-related problems reported by new car owners by explaining and demonstrating the systems to car buyers when the vehicle is purchased.

2013 Initial Quality Award Winners

This year, J.D. Power redesigned the Initial Quality Study, modifying it to better measure problems with modern technologies and features. This year, the top five best-performing car companies in the study are, in order:

  1. Porsche
  2. GMC
  3. Lexus
  4. Infiniti
  5. Chevrolet

J.D. Power breaks the vehicle market into 26 segments and awards the top-rated vehicle in each. Chevrolet receives five awards for 2013, leading all automakers, but the Lexus LS earned recognition for leading all models for initial quality.

The top-rated vehicles for initial quality in each segment are listed below in alphabetical order by make and model within broader vehicle categories. J.D. Power and Associates defines the market segmentation and the segment names.

Best Cars and Minivans for Initial Quality

Best SUVs for Initial Quality

Best Pickup Trucks for Initial Quality

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Christian Wardlaw is passionate about the cars, trucks, and SUVs people actually buy, not the models about which they fantasize. An industry veteran and former editor-in-chief of Edmunds.com, this father of 4 loves to inform and entertain everyday car buyers.

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