According to the 2014 J.D. Power Initial Quality awards, car buyers are having problems with their in-car infotainment systems, and confusion about how these systems work is contributing to an increase in dissatisfaction with vehicle quality. The market research firm says that overall initial quality for 2014-model-year vehicles has increased by three percent compared to last year, primarily due to problems with Bluetooth systems, voice recognition systems and audio/navigation systems.
David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power, said in a statement: "Automakers are trying to give consumers the new features and technology they want ... However, almost all automakers are struggling to do this flawlessly, with some consumers indicating that the technology is hard to understand, difficult to use, or simply does not always work as designed."
Harsh winter weather is also to blame for an increase in problems related to vehicle exterior finishes and components, powertrain complaints and climate systems. In the Midwest and Northeast regions of the U.S., which received record amounts of snow and numerous blasts of arctic air last winter, reported problems rose significantly, while car buyers in the South and West were as satisfied with vehicle quality as they were last year. Sargent says that consumers understand that severe cold punishes a vehicle, but they still report problems resulting from icy temperatures and big snowstorms.
J.D. Power says it is important for car companies to get quality right from the moment a consumer drives off the dealership lot, because it impacts buyer loyalty in years to come. According to the research firm's Power Information Network, 57 percent of people who report no problems during the first 90 days of ownership will buy the same brand of vehicle in the future, compared to 48 percent who report two or more problems.
2014 J.D. Power Initial Quality Awards
General Motors won the most J.D. Power Initial Quality awards this year, taking the golden trophy in six of 23 vehicle classes. Following close behind is Hyundai Motor Company, with five awards for quality. Porsche demonstrated the highest quality, followed by Jaguar and then Lexus. Among mainstream brands, Hyundai earned the highest quality rating, with Toyota coming in as a second-place finisher, followed by Chevrolet and Kia in a tie for third place.
If you're wondering which 2014-model-year vehicles won in the J.D. Power Initial Quality awards, we have the full list below. It's worth mentioning that J.D. Power classifies certain vehicles differently than AutoTrader does. For example, in the list below, J.D. Power calls the Mazda5 a "compact MPV [multi-purpose vehicle]," while AutoTrader considers this model to be a minivan. The Porsche 911 is called a "sporty car" when it is clearly a legitimate sports car.
Keeping that in mind, here is the list of Initial Quality award winners:
2014 Chevrolet Malibu -- Midsize Car
2014 Chevrolet Silverado HD -- Large Heavy-Duty Pickup
2014 Chrysler Town & Country -- Minivan
2014 Dodge Challenger -- Midsize Sporty Car
2014 Ford Edge -- Midsize SUV
2014 Ford F-150 -- Large Light-Duty Pickup
2014 GMC Terrain -- Compact SUV
2014 Honda Ridgeline -- Midsize Pickup
2014 Hyundai Accent -- Small Car
2014 Hyundai Elantra -- Compact Car
2014 Hyundai Genesis -- Midsize Premium Car
2014 Infiniti QX50 -- Compact Premium SUV
2014 Infiniti QX80 -- Large Premium SUV
2014 Kia Cadenza -- Large Car
2014 Lexus ES -- Compact Premium Car
2014 Lincoln MKX -- Midsize Premium SUV
2014 Mazda5 -- Compact MPV
2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata -- Compact Sporty Car
2014 Porsche 911 -- Midsize Premium Sporty Car
2014 Porsche Boxster -- Compact Premium Sporty Car
2014 Porsche Panamera -- Large Premium Car