Ford Slips, Toyota Rebounds in Latest Initial Quality Survey

In a dramatic reversal of last year’s results, Ford Motor Company was rated lower than Toyota Motor Corporation in J. D. Power and Associate’s latest Initial Quality Study.

Ford, which ranked fifth in overall buyer satisfaction last year, fell to No. 23 while Toyota rose to seventh place. The Power study attributed Ford’s overall decline to two primary factors: the complexity of features of its infotainment system and refinements to its fuel-saving powertrains which feel hesitant or sluggish to uninitiated motorists.

Vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power, David Sargent, said “Consumers are interested in having new technologies in their vehicles, but automakers must ensure the technology is ready for prime time. Automakers must be careful to walk before they can run.”

The Ford and Lincoln brands scored 116 problems per 100 models reported during the initial 90 days of ownership – higher than the survey average of 107 problems per 100 models. Last year, Ford owners reported only 93 problems per 100 models. The Ford brand has not fared worse than the industry average in the Initial Quality Study since 2006.

The Lincoln brand also fell below the industry average with 111 problems reported per 100 vehicles. The brand fell from 8th place to 17th place in this year’s study.

Toyota’s Lexus brand, which has been losing market share in the U.S. to BMW and Mercedes, was rated #1 in initial quality with only 73 problems per 100 vehicles. The Lexus LS sedan was the top performer in the study with only 54 problems per 100 vehicles.

Lexus was followed by Honda, Acura, Mercedes, Mazda and Porsche, which received the highest rating in last year’s study.

The Suzuki, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and Mini brands placed near the bottom of the results with Dodge coming in last place with the most problems reported by consumers.

Toyota ranked #7 in the study with 101 problems per 100 vehicles. Last year, the world’s largest automaker fell below the industry average for the first time since being included in the study.

Power said problems with a number of recently launched models have kept the overall results from accurately reflecting the overall improvement of vehicles industry-wide.

This year’s average of 107 problems per 100 vehicles was down from the 2010 average of 109 problems per 100 models. The average for redesigned and freshened vehicles rose to 122 problems per 100, up from 111 problems per 100 vehicles in 2010.

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