Cars are built with a higher quality than ever before, according to the 2012 U.S. Initial Quality Study from J.D. Power and Associates. Initial quality of car and trucks overall averages 102 problems per 100 vehicles, or PP100, an improvement of 5 percent from 2011.
In general, the study showed that car quality has improved year-over-year in most areas with the exception of problems with audio, entertainment and navigation systems. This category has been trending upward, with a 45 percent increase in problems since 2006. All the other categories where the study assesses quality have improved by an average of 24 percent during the same period. J.D. Power attributes the problems in this area to increasingly sophisticated technology in audio, entertainment and navigation in all categories of cars (not just luxury) and the learning curve associated with operating those systems.
Lexus was the highest-scoring brand for the second year in a row, averaging 73 PP100, followed by Jaguar and Porsche, both with 75 PP100. Jaguar posted the largest improvement in the study, jumping from 20th to tie Porsche for second, by reducing problems by 39 PP100. Rounding out the top five were Cadillac, with 80 PP100, followed by Honda with 83 PP100.
In terms of models, both Ford and Lexus received awards for three of its vehicles, the Ford Expedition, Mustang and Taurus; and the Lexus ES 350, LS and RX. Two segment awards went to Infiniti (EX-Series, M-Series); Nissan (Frontier, Quest) and Toyota (Corolla, Yaris).
The 2012 U.S. Initial Quality Study is based on the responses of 74,000 owners and lessees of 2012 model year cars, trucks and SUVs surveyed 90 days after ownership.
Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.