Kia has topped J.D. Power’s latest study on how consumers feel about their vehicles after 90 days of ownership. It is a big win for Kia, becoming the first brand outside luxury offerings to top the Power survey in almost 30 years. Also receiving high marks this year were Porsche, Hyundai, Toyota and BMW. And owners, overall, reported fewer problems this time around with the average number of complaints coming in at 105 compared to 112 a year ago.
Mainly, owners found entertainment, communications and navigation systems less trouble prone in U.S. and South Korean offerings. Power said European and Japanese did not fare as well in those categories.
And there was good news for the Detroit three. GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler improved their scores by 10 percent, and that was double the rate of most imported brands. For just the second time in the 30-year history of the study, domestic brands collectively had lower problem levels than all their import counterparts combined. All three U.S. domestic automakers posted year-over-year quality improvements.
The top overall scores came out as follows:
Kia topped the list, followed by Porsche, Hyundai, Toyota, BMW, and Chevrolet. Buick, Lincoln and Lexus tied for 7th place. Rounding out the top ten were Nissan and Ford with GMC and Infiniti tied for 10th place. Fiat and the smart car finished at the bottom of the latest survey.
“Manufacturers are currently making some of the highest quality products we’ve ever seen,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power. “Tracking our data over the past several years, it has become clear that automakers are listening to the customer, identifying pain points and are focused on continuous improvement. Even as they add more content, including advanced technologies that have had a reputation for causing problems, overall quality continues to improve.”
Fiat Chrysler dealers will get a software package that it says will prevent 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokees from moving when the driver’s door is open and the shifter is not in Park. Automotive News reports owners will be notified to bring their Jeeps in for repair starting on Friday.
This follows the death of actor Anton Yelchin, of Star Trek fame, who was found pinned against a security gate at this California home by his 2015 Grand Cherokee. FCA is recalling 1.1 million vehicles with what consumers have said are confusing gear shifters that make it difficult to determine if the vehicle is in Park.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it is the first fatality it is aware of related to the safety defect and vehicle recall.