Kia tops J.D. Power initial quality list; non-premium brands do well

2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo 2WD

The J.D. Power initial quality rankings are out again this year, and for the first time a non-premium brand topped the list.

Remember when Hyundai and Kia were synonymous with cheap transportation and so-so quality? Well, they aren’t any more, as Kia topped the list with 83 problems per 100 vehicles, narrowly beating out Porsche with 84. Hyundai came in third with 92, beating out Toyota, a company known for their high-quality vehicles.

But what exactly is the initial quality study, and why should anyone care? According to J.D. Power, the survey looks at 233 problem areas after the first 90 days of ownership. The problem areas are grouped into eight categories:

  • Exterior
  • Seats
  • Driving Experience
  • Engine/Transmission
  • Features/Controls/Displays (FCD)
  • Interior
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
  • Audio/Communication/Entertainment/Navigation (ACEN)

TFLcar looked at J.D. Power initial quality rankings and looked to see if a high rank equals more sales, especially when the company advertises their rankings. While not a scientific study by any means, there seemed to be no correlation between J.D. Power initial quality rankings and any increase in sales.

Still, the study is another tool that someone looking to buy a new car can use to help them decide what to buy.

2016 Chevrolet Spark rear

In this year’s study, American companies did well. Chrysler and Jeep were the most improved over 2015, and General Motors received the most individual segment awards. American brands fared better than import brands 103 to 106.

Non-premium brands also fared better on average than premium brands, with 104 vs. 108.

For the full list of brands and their rankings, visit the J.D. Power website.

Here is a list of the segment winners for 2016:

Check out this TFLcar first-drive video of the small SUV winner, the Kia Sportage: