Ford supplanted Toyota as the leader of the pack in initial quality rankings, taking the top spot in five of 19 segments in the 2007 survey by J.D. Power and Associates, released Wednesday.
Porsche again dominated the overall ranking of brands, averaging 91 problems per 100 vehicles as it had last year. That compared with a 2007 industry average of 125 problems per 100 vehicles. Last year it was 124.
Ford Motor Co. earned segment awards for the Ford Mustang, Lincoln Mark LT, Lincoln MKZ, Mercury Milan and Mazda MX-5 Miata. Mazda is 33.4 percent owned by Ford.
Toyota Motor Corp., which grabbed the top spot in 11 segments last year, captured only three this year, as did Mercedes-Benz. Toyota's 2007 awards were for the 4Runner, Sequoia and Tacoma.
Ford's Lincoln brand took third in overall nameplate rankings, averaging 100 problems per 100 vehicles. It was behind Porsche and Toyota's Lexus luxury brand, which averaged 94 problems per vehicles.
Lincoln jumped from 12th in 2006.
"We saw dramatic improvement from Lincoln," said Neal Oddes, J.D. Power's director of product research and analysis. "It was a fantastic year for the Mercury Milan, with dramatic improvements in terms of defects."
Overall, he said, Ford's strength came from new launches such as the Edge, MKX and MKZ.
Toyota had seen its list of quality leaders decrease in a quality study released Monday by Strategic Vision Inc., a San Diego-based market research company and consultant to automakers. Despite improving its overall quality, Toyota led in one category in that study, down from four in 2006. South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co. led in five categories, outperforming its Japanese, European and U.S. competitors. Last year, it had no winners.
In the J.D. Power survey, Hyundai fell from third overall to 12th. Oddes said relaunched vehicles such as the Santa Fe did not do as well as the automaker had hoped. On the plus side, the redesigned Elantra performed well in its segment.
For the study, Westlake Village, Calif.-based J.D. Power collected responses from more than 97,000 buyers and lessees of new 2007 model year vehicles after 90 days of ownership.
This year's survey included 228 questions and asked for information specifically about design and production, such as defects and malfunctions.
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