(Corrects 23rd paragraph to show GM had four, not three, models
listed as best in segment)
* Manufacturers making more quality vehicles than ever
* Ford rating continues to be cut by MyFord Touch, Sync
* Lexus No. 1 overall, Honda tops among non-luxury brands
* GM's rating best in 26-year history of initial quality
By Bernie Woodall
DETROIT, June 20 Consumers continue to be
baffled by new technology such as voice-activated controls in
their new cars and trucks, but overall, vehicle quality in the
United States has never been higher, J.D. Power and Associates
said on Wednesday.
Owner complaints about technology continued to hurt Ford
Motor Co's standing in the influential annual survey of
new-vehicle buyers. Ford fell to 27th from 23rd a year ago.
Just two years ago, before MyFord Touch and Ford's
voice-activated Sync control systems were rolled out to more
models, Ford was fifth in the survey, the best showing among
This year, Honda Motor Co grabbed the coveted spot
as top non-luxury brand in the survey, which expanded to include
34 auto brands, up from 32 a year ago.
For the second straight year, Lexus, Toyota Motor Corp's
luxury brand, topped the survey, which asks owners to
rate the quality of vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership.
The survey was conducted from February to May.
Hands-free devices in new vehicles not recognizing voice
commands has become the most often reported problem cited in the
survey, said Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive
at J.D. Power and Associates.
Until the last several years, Sargent said, hands-free
controls were rare, but this year, more than 80 percent of new
owners said their vehicles have some form of hands-free
Sargent said that most consumers whose hands-free and
touch-screen systems function well do like them. In Ford's case,
he said, customers say they are attracted to some Ford models
because of the high level of new technology in them.
"You could almost say that Ford took one for the team," said
Sargent. "They went early, they went big and a lot of learning
has come from that, not only for Ford but everybody else has
benefited by Ford being the first to go over the top."
U.S. consumers and automakers are on a learning curve when
it comes to voice-activated controls and other new technology in
vehicles, Sargent said. Over time, quality scores will improve
related to this issue.
The fact that many dealerships offer tutorials on how to use
the new technology in cars shows that they are not quite as
intuitive as many smart phones on the market, said Sargent.
However, he said, "the onus is on the automakers to make
The good news is that the overall quality has never been
better for new cars, and there are far fewer complaints about
wind and road noise, engine problems, or other more traditional
quality issues, said Sargent.
HONDA, TOYOTA, MAZDA
Japanese automakers, with Honda in fifth place, Toyota
running eighth place and Mazda Motor Corp in 11th
place, were the top performers among non-luxury automakers.
Overall, behind Lexus, which scored only 73 complaints per
100 vehicles sold, were India's Tata Motors Ltd's
Jaguar and Porsche , both with 75 problems
General Motor's luxury Cadillac brand was fourth.
Jaguar improved the most of any brand, jumping to second
from 20th last year, based on marked improvements of its XJ
sedan, Sargent said.
GM HAS BEST SHOWING
Sargent said that GM's showing was above the industry
average for the first time since 2009, and that collectively, GM
brands performed at the highest level in the survey's 26-year
Chevrolet's Malibu sedan won the title as best mid-size car
in the survey, the biggest of the 21 model-level segments, said
Sargent. Ford's Fusion and Honda's Accord ranked in a tie for
second in the mid-size segment.
Toyota and its Lexus brand combined to have five models that
claimed best-in-segment awards, including the Corolla as top
compact car and Yaris for the subcompact with the least reported
While Ford's overall rating was down - one of only five
brands to show a drop - it along with Lexus had three models
Cars winning their segments included Ford's Expedition large
SUV, Mustang sports car, and Taurus large sedan, Lexus' LS
premium car, ES "entry-level" premium car and RX premium SUV.
GM had four vehicles that won their segments: the Malibu,
the Buick Enclave for mid-size crossovers or SUVs, the GMC
Sierra LD as top large pickup truck, an d the Cadillac Escalade
as large luxury crossover or SUV.
At the bottom of the survey are brands that offer subcompact
cars, BMW AG's MINI, Fiat SpA, with its only
U.S. offering so far the Fiat 500, and Daimler's
Sargent said this is likely because all three subcompact
brands imported cars to the U.S. market that were designed for
(Reporting By Bernie Woodall; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)