J.D. Power: Technology a problem for new car quality
2012 Lexus ES 350 / Toyota Motor Sales
(MoneyWatch) Hands-free technology for audio and cell phones continues to annoy new car buyers, becoming the chief source of problems cited in the 2012 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study.
Lexus repeated its win as the number one brand in the survey, followed by Jaguar, Porsche, Cadillac and Honda. General Motors' Cadillac was the only Detroit-based brand in the top ten.
While the overall level of problems reported by new car buyers within the first 90 days declined by five percent compared with last year, the problems with entertainment, audio and navigation systems rose by eight percent. Of owners in the survey, 80 percent said their car had some kind of voice command technology. "However, the most innovative technology in the world will quickly create dissatisfaction if owners can't get it to work," said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power in introducing the report.
Such problems continued to plague Ford, which dropped even further below the industry average -- 26th this year vs. 23rd last year after performing much better in prior years. Ford's pioneering Sync system, now known as MyFord Touch, initially was a selling point but now is a source of consumer complaints. In fact, two Chrysler brands perennially near the bottom -- Chrysler and Jeep -- moved ahead of Ford this year.
Some buyers liked their new Fords, however. Ford shared with Lexus the most winners in individual car categories with three each. Those were Expedition, Mustang and Taurus for Ford and the ES 350, LS and RX for Lexus. Infiniti, Nissan and Toyota won two segment awards each.
In the past, a small number of brands -- particularly Honda and Toyota -- dominated these segment awards. But Sargent pointed out that 14 different brands won segment awards this year. "This is a positive indication of how widespread high quality is among auto makers," he said.
Here is a rundown in order of the initial quality rankings by brand:
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