Lexus Leads 2012 J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey as Industry Keeps Improving

By Jacob Brown | June 20, 2012
There were no big surprises for the 2012 J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey awards' top five finishers. Lexus was awarded the highest-ranked overall nameplate award for the second year in a row with 73 problems per 100 vehicles, the same as it had last year. Porsche and Jaguar tied for second with just 75 problems each, beating last year's runner-up Honda by a significant 11-point margin. Honda finished this year behind Cadillac with 83 problems per 100 vehicles, an improvement of three problems. What was surprising, however, is Ford's lack of improvement, actually gaining two additional problems per 100 vehicles for 2012 after becoming well aware of its massive falloff last year. Last year, Ford had to contend with a MyFord Touch infotainment system and Sync not responding to voice commands as well as it should. It was thought that a programming improvement that was rushed out for 2013 models and retrofitted to earlier models equipped with MyFord Touch would solve the problems, but whether it's measuring non-updated systems, or the update itself, Ford stayed in the doldrums. J.D. Power says the industry improved by five problems per 100 vehicles to 102 total for 2012, but audio, entertainment, and navigation problems have actually worsened by 8 percent since 2011. The survey noted that for the first time in its 26-year history, audio, entertainment, and navigation—shortened to "infotainment"—was the biggest problem area category of all those polled. It's actually increased 137 percent over the past four years, largely because infotainment technology has begun trickling into mainstream offerings.
"As smartphones become ubiquitous in the lives of consumers and are ever0more sophisticated, expectations about the complementary technologies being offered in new models will only get higher," says David Sargent, global vice president of J.D. Power's automotive division, in a statement. "Automakers and suppliers are working hard to meet those expectations with systems intended to make the deicing experience safer, more convenient, and more entertaining. However, the most innovative technology in the world will quickly create dissatisfaction if owners can't get it to work." While Lexus continued its stronghold of the top nameplate award, many other segment breakout stars came from other brands—14 in all—including Toyota (Yaris, Corolla); Mazda (MX-5 Miata); Volvo (C70), Lexus (ES 350, LS, RX); Infiniti (M, EX); Ford (Mustang, Taurus, Expedition); Chevrolet (Malibu); Honda (CR-V); Kia (Soul); Buick (Enclave); Cadillac (Escalade); GMC (Sierra 1500); Nissan (Quest, Frontier); and Porsche, which scored a record-setting 44 problems per 100 vehicles with its previous-generation 997-series 911. The survey was taken by 74,000 new car purchasers or lessees for 2012-model vehicles after their first 90 days of ownership. It was conducted between February and May of this year, with survey takers filling out 228 questions concerning their new vehicles. Click below to see the polls and individual award winners in our photo gallery. Do any of the award recipients surprise you? Source: J.D. Power