10 Best Car Brands in Initial Quality

If you’re in the market for a car that won’t have any major issues after you purchase it, you’ve come to the right place.

Each year, J.D. Power conducts the U.S. Initial Quality Study, which examines problems experienced by vehicle owners during the first 90 days of ownership. Based on the study’s results, each automaker receives an initial quality rating that is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles — the fewer problems an automaker has, the better its quality.

This year, the industry average was 112 problems per 100 vehicles with 15 automakers besting the average and 18 automakers scoring below the average.

10. Toyota

It’s almost no surprise to see Toyota in the top 10, given its reputation for reliability and dependability. The Japanese automaker saw its owners reporting 104 problems per 100 vehicles, with the Toyota Corolla named one of the top three models in the Compact Car segment. The Camry was also one of the top three models in the Midsize Car segment, giving two of Toyota’s most popular models awards for this year’s J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. Other models that were named best-in-class is the Toyota Tacoma (Midsize Pickup) and the Toyota Sequoia (Large SUV). The brand had its owners report one less problem per 100 vehicles compared to the 2014 study, but Toyota lost ranking, as it finished in fifth place in 2014.

9. Lexus

Toyota’s luxury arm, Lexus, finished ninth this year, a drop from its third place finish in 2014. Last year, Lexus owners reported 92 problems per 100 vehicles, but this year wasn’t as friendly to new Lexus owners. In the 2015 J.D. Power U.S. Initial Quality Study, Lexus had 104 problems per 100 vehicles. Regardless, it’s an acceptable amount below the industry average and one of four Japanese automakers to be under the industry average. The Lexus LS was ranked the highest in the Large Premium Car category, while the Lexus ES was third in the Compact Premium Car category. Also getting an award is the new Lexus NX, which tied for third in the Compact Premium SUV segment.

8. Lincoln

With 103 reported problems per 100 vehicles, Lincoln slides in with an eighth place finish, the second highest of all American automakers. The Lincoln MKZ was the second top model in the Compact Premium Car category and the Lincoln MKS also earned a second place finish in the Midsize Premium Car category. Last year, the luxury automaker finished in 10th place with 109 reported problems per 100 vehicles. In addition, the Lincoln Navigator saw a third place finish in the Large Premium SUV category, while the MKX was second best in Midsize Premium SUV.

7. Chevrolet

The top American automaker in the 2015 U.S. Initial Quality Study is Chevrolet, with 101 problems per 100 vehicles. Earning accolades for the brand are the Chevrolet Spark in the City Car category and the Chevrolet Camaro in the Midsize Sport Car segment. The Chevrolet Sonic was also ranked third in the Small Car category along with the Chevrolet Impala in Large Car. The American automaker has stayed consistent, finishing sixth last year with 106 problems per 100 vehicles. The Chevrolet Tahoe also got a nod as the third best Large SUV and the Traverse made its presence known in the Midsize SUV category with a third-place finish. Topping the list in the Compact SUV segment is the Chevrolet Equinox, and the Silverado LD was also named best Large Light Duty Pickup. The Chevrolet Silverado HD finished second behind the Ford Super Duty in the Large Heavy Duty Pickup segment.

6. BMW

Besting main competitors Audi and Mercedes-Benz, BMW finished in sixth place this year with 99 problems per 100 vehicles. It’s a noticeable improvement for the German automaker, which had its owners report 108 problems per 100 vehicles last year, landing BMW in eighth place. This year, BMW was bolstered by the 4 Series and 5 Series models with both of them topping the Compact Premium Car and Midsize Premium Car categories, respectively. The BMW 7 Series was also second in the Large Premium Car segment. Even the 2 Series got some action, being named the top model in the Small Premium Car category.


5. Infiniti

The top Japanese automaker on this year’s J.D. Power Initial Quality Study is Infiniti, with 97 reported problems per 100 vehicles. It’s a significant improvement compared to the brand last year, which saw its owners reporting 128 problems per 100 vehicles, which was well off the industry average of 116 in 2014. In fact, Infiniti was the 10th worst automaker in the 2014 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. Helping bolster the brand in this year’s study is the Infiniti Q70, which was the third top model in the Midsize Premium Car segment. The company’s SUV and crossover offerings also made a mark this year, with the QX50 in a tie for third place in the Compact Premium SUV segment. It had no competition in the Midsize Premium SUV and Large Premium SUV categories, earning best nods in both those segments with the Infiniti QX70 and QX80, respectively.

4. Hyundai

Hyundai stayed steady in fourth place, earning an Initial Quality of 95, similar to last year’s 94. The Korean automaker also walked away with an award with the Hyundai Accent being named top car in the Small Car segment. The Hyundai Elantra also tied in second place in the Compact Car category. Other models that came away with awards include the Hyundai Tucson, which topped the Small SUV category, and the Hyundai Santa Fe, which was named second best in the Midsize SUV segment.

3. Jaguar

Although Jaguar only had one model taking home an award with the Jaguar F-Type in the Midsize Premium Sporty Car segment (3rd place), the British automaker kicks off the top 3 brands in Initial Quality with 93 problems per 100 vehicles. Last year, Jaguar finished in second position with 87 problems per 100 vehicles, so its quality did decrease compared to the 2014 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. Still, its ranking is significantly under the industry average of 112 problems per 100 vehicles.

2. Kia

Perhaps a surprise to some, Kia finished second in the 2015 J.D. Power U.S. Initial Quality Study with 86 problems per 100 vehicles, while its Kwangju Plant 1, which produces the Kia Soul, received the Gold Plant Quality Award for the Asia Pacific region. The Korean automaker had numerous models ranking in the top three for their segment, including the Kia Rio (2nd, Small Car), Kia Cadenza (2nd, Large Car) and the Kia Optima (2nd, Midsize Car). Even the Kia Sportage (tied 2nd) and the Kia Sedona (3rd) left with awards in the Small SUV and Minivan categories, respectively.


1. Porsche

Similar to how Fiat is enjoying another year at the very bottom of the list, Porsche will be the automaker to beat when it comes to Initial Quality. With 80 problems per 100 vehicles, Porsche actually saw more issues than last year when it scored 74, but the change wasn’t enough to knock it off the throne. The Porsche Boxster was named top model in the Compact Premium Sporty Car segment while the Porsche Panamera finished third in the Large Premium Car category. Also making an appearance on the awards list is the Porsche Cayenne, which came in third in the Midsize Premium SUV segment.

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