Kia, Genesis, Porsche dominate J.D. Power’s 2017 Initial Quality Study. (Fiat, not so much.)

Kia has done it again: for a second year in a row, the South Korean brand has come out on top of J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study.

The Initial Quality Study is a great one for new-car buyers to watch. Unlike Power’s equally well-known Dependability Study, which evaluates new cars based on the number of problems they have over several years, the Initial Quality Study rates vehicles according to the number of issues they experience during the first 90 days of ownership.

This year’s study was based on survey responses from nearly 80,000 folks who’d purchased or bought 2017 model-year vehicles. It asked them a total of 233 questions, divided into eight categories of potential problems:

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

The survey tracks the number of problems owners had in each of those areas, then averages them to determine the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100 for short). That gives J.D. Power a good idea of how well cars are built when they roll off the assembly line.

The winners

Last year, Kia owners reported 83 PP100, but this year, the brand did even better. Among 2017 model-year vehicles, Kia owners reported just 72 PP100. That’s pretty remarkable. 

Even more remarkable is the fact that Kia is a mass-market brand. Since J.D. Power began fielding the Initial Quality Survey in 1987, luxury marques have dominated the #1 rung, with mass-market brands like Kia coming out on top just three times: 2006, 2016, and this year, 2017.

As you can see from the graphic above, Kia’s sibling, the recently spun-off Genesis, came in second, with 77 PP100. German luxury brand Porsche was close on Genesis’ heels, with 78 PP100.

Special mention goes to MINI, which was the most improved brand overall. Owners of 2017 MINI vehicles reported 33 fewer PP100 than they did in 2016. Ram also made significant gains, tying for fourth…

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