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:
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
- 2013 Acura TL — Compact Premium Car
- 2013 Chevrolet Camaro (tie) — Midsize Sporty Car
- 2013 Chevrolet Impala — Large Car
- 2013 Chrysler Town & Country — Minivan
- 2013 Ford Mustang (tie)– Midsize Sporty Car
- 2013 Honda Civic — Compact Car
- 2013 Hyundai Genesis Sedan — Midsize Premium Car
- 2013 Kia Soul — Compact MPV
- 2013 Lexus LS — Large Premium Car
- 2013 Mazda Mazda2 — Sub-Compact Car
- 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata — Compact Sporty Car
- 2013 Porsche 911 — Midsize Premium Sporty Car
- 2013 Porsche Boxster — Compact Premium Sporty Car
- 2013 Smart Fortwo — City Car
- 2013 Toyota Camry — Midsize Car
Best SUVs for Initial Quality
- 2013 Buick Encore (tie) — Sub-Compact SUV
- 2013 Cadillac Escalade — Large Premium SUV
- 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe — Large SUV
- 2013 Honda CR-V — Compact SUV
- 2013 Infiniti FX — Midsize Premium SUV
- 2013 Kia Sportage (tie) — Sub-Compact SUV
- 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class — Compact Premium SUV
- 2013 Nissan Murano — Midsize SUV
Best Pickup Trucks for Initial Quality