Kia On Top
For 2016, Korean automaker Kia is the highest-ranked nameplate for initial quality — the first time in 27 years that a non-premium brand has topped the charts in the annual Initial Quality Study. This important auto industry study is produced by the global marketing information services company J.D. Power. An automaker’s initial quality ranking is based on the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100). A lower score indicates higher quality. The study is based on responses from more than 80,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2016 model-year vehicles, surveyed after 90 days of ownership.
After seeing a drop in quality two years ago, the industry has turned around and J.D. Power reports a 6 percent improvement in initial quality year over year — the largest increase since 2009. Kia led all car companies with an average rating of just 83 PP100, with Porsche following with a score of 84 PP100. Hyundai, Toyota and BMW round out the top five manufacturers. Chrysler and Jeep are the most improved brands — each reducing the number of problems by 28 PP100 from 2015. General Motors fielded the most top-ranked individual models, and Chevrolet was the top-ranked domestic brand with 95 PP100. In addition to ranking the manufacturers, J.D. Power ranks vehicles in 26 different categories. Here’s a look at the IQS category winners for 2016.
City Car: Chevrolet Spark
Starting Price: $12,660
Completely redesigned for the 2016 model year, the Spark is Chevrolet’s smallest offering and it’s nice to see an attractive, efficient fun-to-drive small car coming from an American car company. Thanks to smart use of space and a high roof, the small car doesn’t feel claustrophobic — even for tall folks. And while inexpensive, the Spark doesn’t feel cheap. The Chevrolet Spark is one of the least expensive cars on the market to offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. It may not offer a lot of power, but the Spark is rated at an impressive 41 mpg on the highway.
Small Car: Hyundai Accent
Starting Price: $14,745
The fact that Hyundai’s least expensive car leads its class as the small car with the fewest initial problems shows how well Korean automakers have performed in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. The fourth-gen Accent excels in occupant and cargo space and offers attractive styling that fits with the rest of the Hyundai lineup. The 137-horsepower 4-cylinder engine provides a good mix of fuel economy and performance, and — like other Hyundais — the Accent is well equipped with a long list of standard features.
Small Premium Car: Lexus CT
Starting Price: $31,250
The CT is a unique offering from Lexus in that it is only available with a hybrid powertrain. The sporty-looking 4-door hatchback is the least expensive model in the Lexus lineup, but still comes well equipped with features such as dual-zone climate control, a 10-way power driver’s seat, an available Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and a 6-speaker audio system featuring the world’s first automotive speakers constructed with sustainable bamboo and resin. The hybrid system puts out a combined 134 horsepower and rates an impressive 43 mpg in the city.
Compact Car: Toyota Corolla
Starting Price: $17,300
The Corolla certainly is an old-timer — in name at least. Although the car was redesigned last year, the name has been around since 1966 and — according to Toyota — more than 40 million Corollas have been sold since its introduction. Corolla gets power from an efficient 1.8-liter engine that achieves 132 horsepower while delivering 37 mpg on the highway when equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission. For 2016 Corolla gets plenty of high-tech features, including a 6.1 in. touchscreen display, an AM/FM/CD player, six speakers, an auxiliary audio jack, a USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, Bluetooth connectivity and Siri Eyes Free.
Compact Sporty Car (tie): Buick Cascada
Starting Price: $33,065
An all-new 2+2 convertible, the 2016 Buick Cascada is the first open-top car for the U.S. market from Buick in 25 years. Cascada features a power soft-top with thermal and acoustic insulation; it can be lowered in 17 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph. Cascada’s plentiful standard equipment list includes leather seating, heated front seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot, Buick IntelliLink with 7-inch diagonal touchscreen, HID articulated headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights and 20-inch aluminum wheels with bi-color finish.
Compact Sporty Car (tie): Scion tC
Starting Price: $19,385
This year will be the last time a Scion tC earns a top spot in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. Toyota has announced that the Scion brand will be discontinued, and while some Scions will be rebranded as Toyotas, the tC will not continue after the 2016 model year. This sporty hatchback is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 179 horsepower, which can be teamed with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The tC comes well equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED front accent lamps, keyless entry and ignition, air-conditioning, a panoramic sunroof, Bluetooth connectivity, a 7-inch touchscreen display, voice controls and an 8-speaker Pioneer sound system.
Compact MPV: Kia Soul
Starting Price: $15,900
The Kia Soul is somewhat unique in the marketplace — there really isn’t anything else on the road quite like it. Completely redesigned in 2014, the Soul tops the Compact MPV segment with the least number of issues for the second year in a row. It features a roomy interior for five passengers and a spacious cargo area — all wrapped in a funky package that redefines the “boxy” car segment. As with other Kia models the Soul comes well equipped, making it a good value in the small people mover segment.
Compact Premium Car: Lincoln MKZ
Starting Price: $35,010
Although the MKZ sits at the entry level of the Lincoln lineup, it still comes with an impressive list of standard features. The equipment includes adaptive LED headlamps, pushbutton shift with 5-button interface, a 10.1-inch LCD instrument cluster, remote start, a rearview camera, 18-inch premium painted aluminum wheels and an Easy Fuel capless fuel filler. Three different powertrains are available, including a 300-horsepower V6 or a fuel-efficient gas-electric hybrid that delivers up to 41 mpg in the city. Look for an all-new 2017 MKZ arriving in showrooms later this year.
Compact Premium Sporty Car: Audi TT
Starting Price: $42,900
The sporty Audi TT is all new for the 2016 model year. Available as a coupe or convertible, the new TT features more aggressive lines with a wider, bolder front end including a new Singleframe grille and standard LED headlights. There’s plenty of standard equipment on the TT, including 18-inch 5-spoke split-spoke wheels, an adaptive rear spoiler, dual exhaust, a 3-spoke flat-bottom steering wheel, power front sport seats, leather/Alcantara seat trim, an MMI touch interface, digital climate controls, available Nappa leather and Audi connect with 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity. For those looking for a bit more performance there’s the TTS, which is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter TFSI engine producing 292 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque with Audi’s legendary quattro all-wheel drive.
Midsize Car: Toyota Camry
Starting Price: $23,070
The Toyota Camry is the best-selling passenger car in America, so it’s no surprise that this midsize sedan excels at just about everything to win that family car / daily driver heart of the market. Available with a choice of two gas engines as well as a fuel-efficient gas-electric hybrid powertrain, the Camry comes standard with a number of advanced safety features including enhanced vehicle stability control, traction control, a 4-wheel anti-lock brake system, electronic brake-force distribution , brake assist and multiple airbags. Completely redesigned last year, the updated Camry shows no signs of giving up its reign as top midsize car.
Midsize Sporty Car: Dodge Challenger
Starting Price: $26,995
Leading the Midsize Sporty Car category for the third year in a row, the Challenger is Dodge’s retro-styled coupe that offers an impressive list of standard features, even on the most basic models. But the Challenger that gets the most attention is the extreme Hellcat. Featuring the first production use of a supercharger on a HEMI V8, the Hellcat boasts a massive 707 horsepower. That makes 60 mph come up in under 4 seconds with a top speed of almost 200 mph. Even more impressive: This beast can seat up to 5 passengers and is rated at 22 mpg on the highway.
Minivan: Chrysler Town & Country
Starting Price: $29,995
Driving a minivan doesn’t mean you have to give up all semblance of luxury. The Chrysler Town & Country is available in multiple levels of luxe, and for 2016 Chrysler is celebrating its 90th anniversary with a special Anniversary Edition of the brand’s versatile luxury van. All Town & Country trims come standard with leather seats, 3-zone climate control, powered sliding doors, a power liftgate, a premium audio system and Chrysler’s well-known Stow ‘n Go seats. There’s also plenty of storage throughout — as you’d expect in a minivan. Note that the Town & Country is slated to be replaced by the all-new Chrysler Pacifica now arriving in showrooms.
Midsize Premium Car: Lexus GS
Starting Price: $45,615
All new for the 2016 model year, the GS is the latest offering from Toyota’s luxury arm to be redesigned with the brand’s new larger, bolder grille. The GS is offered with a number of different powertrains, including the the GS 450h high-performance hybrid that combines a 3.5-liter V6 gas engine and a water-cooled permanent-magnet electric motor for a total system output of 338 horsepower. But if more performance is required, there’s the GS F — the most powerful production Lexus ever. Thanks to its 5.0-liter V8 that puts out 467 horsepower, the GS F can sprint to 60 mph in a mere 4.5 seconds. The custom sport suspension and big Brembo brakes help drivers take proper control of all that power.
Midsize Premium Sporty Car: Porsche 911
Starting Price: $89,400
The Porsche 911 has topped the Midsize Premium Sporty Car category for the past six years. For 50 years the iconic 911 has been one of the best sports cars on the planet, offering amazing performance while remaining comfortable and useful as a daily driver. Porsche recently launched the seventh generation of the 911, which has a wider front track and is longer, lower and loaded with new features. A plethora of 911 versions are now available, including the 560-horsepower 911 Turbo S.
Large Car: Hyundai Azera
Starting Price: $34,100
The stylish Azera sedan fits neatly in the Hyundai lineup between the midsize Sonata and the luxurious Genesis. Available in a base or Limited trims, the front-wheel-drive Azera gets power from by a 3.3-liter V6 engine producing 293 horsepower while delivering up to 28 mpg on the highway. Even the base-level Azera comes loaded with heated and cooled front seats, leather trim, heated rear seats, a navigation system with an 8-inch display, a rearview camera and a 14-speaker 550-watt Infinity Logic 7 audio system. Blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic assist are standard as well.
Small SUV: Kia Sportage
Starting Price: $22,990
The Kia Sportage is a stylish 5-passenger crossover available with front- or all-wheel drive. As with other models from the Korean automaker, the Sportage is a great value with prices starting at almost $23,000. The sporty SUV comes well equipped with alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system and a number of safety features. Two different engines are available for Sportage, including a turbocharged 2.0-liter unit producing an impressive 260 horsepower while delivering up to 26 mpg. An all-new 2017 Sportage has already arrived in showrooms with updated styling and advanced safety equipment.
Small Premium SUV: Audi Q3
Starting Price: $33,700
The Q3 is the smallest of Audi’s SUV offerings and is available with either front-wheel drive or Audi’s legendary quattro all-wheel-drive system. Designed to offer the agility of a small car without losing the capabilities of an SUV, the Q3 gets its power from a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder powerplant producing 200 horsepower. In keeping with Audi’s reputation for luxurious amenities, the Q3 comes well equipped with heated 12-way power front leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, Xenon headlights, and keyless entry/start.
Compact SUV (tie): Chevrolet Equinox
Starting Price: $23,100
Chevrolet’s compact crossover, the Equinox is one of the brand’s best-selling models in America. For the 2016 model year Equinox gets a number of updates including a new front fascia, projector-beam headlights and new wheel designs. Inside, the revised center stack includes a storage shelf and updated control graphics. Available with front- or all-wheel drive, Equinox can be powered by either the standard 2.4-liter EcoTec engine or the more powerful 3.6-liter V6 producing 301 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of torque.
Compact SUV (tie): GMC Terrain
Starting Price: $24,070
Refreshed for the 2016 model year, Terrain is the second-best-selling model in the GMC lineup after the full-size Sierra pickup. Terrain — sibling to the Chevrolet Equinox — seats five and is offered with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The standard engine is a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter EcoTec with a 301-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 available as an option. A new center stack design includes a storage shelf and updated control graphics. Available GMC IntelliLink offers OnStar with 4G LTE connectivity and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.
Compact Premium SUV: Porsche Macan
Starting Price: $47,500
The compact Macan certainly stands out from the crowd, not only with the lowest number of issues in its class, but with impressive levels of performance one would expect from a Porsche. Two versions are available: The Macan S gets a twin-turbo V6 engine producing 340 horsepower, and the Macan Turbo sports a larger 3.6-liter twin-turbo powerplant putting out 400 horses. Both use a 7-speed double-clutch gearbox and power goes through an active all-wheel-drive system. Stats are impressive, especially for a compact SUV — the S reaches 60 mph in around 5 seconds, while the Turbo manages the same feat in just 4.4 seconds.
Midsize SUV: Toyota Highlander
Starting Price: $30,490
One of the best-selling SUVs in America, the Highlander is available with front- or all-wheel drive and can be equipped with a variety of safety and luxury features. In fact, Highlander has earned the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick + rating for the last three years running. The 3-row SUV can seat up to eight people and can tow up to 5,000 pounds, making it an excellent choice for families. Highlander is available with a choice of 4-cylinder, V6 or hybrid powertrains — the latter delivering up to 28 mpg on the highway. Toyota introduced an updated 2017 Highlander at this year’s New York Auto Show — look for the new model to arrive in showrooms later this year.
Midsize Premium SUV: BMW X5
Starting Price: $54,700
As BMW’s first Sports Activity Vehicle, the X5 debuted in the 2000 model year and has evolved over the last 16 years into one of the most popular luxury SUVs in North America. Available with a variety of powerful engines, the 2016 X5 model line now includes the high-performance X5 M. Residing at the top of the X5 lineup, the M version is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine that produces a crazy 567 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. BMW also offers a diesel variant as well as a plug-in hybrid version.
Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier
Starting Price: $18,290
The Frontier is Nissan’s entry in the midsize pickup truck market, featuring more than 20 different configurations. Available as a King Cab or Crew Cab, the Frontier can be had with rear- or four-wheel drive as well as with long or short truck beds. Two engines are available: a 2.5-liter 152-horsepower 4-cylinder unit or a 4.0-liter V6 producing a more respectable 261 horsepower. Frontier can be equipped with a variety of features including a heavy-duty suspension, available off-road-tuned Bilstein high-pressure performance gas shock absorbers, skidplates (PRO-4X grade), and an innovative Utili-track Channel System for easy cargo securing.
Large SUV: Chevrolet Tahoe
Starting Price: $47,000
There aren’t many vehicles on the road that can compete with the Chevrolet Tahoe. With seating for up to nine occupants, plenty of cargo capacity, the ability to tow more than 8,000 pounds and 9 inches of ground clearance for off-road adventures, the Yukon is one of the most capable SUVs on the road. Available with 2WD or 4WD, Tahoe can also be equipped with a suite of safety features as well as 4G LTE connectivity with a Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless phone charging, power-folding second- and third-row seats, an 8-inch color touchscreen and multiple USB ports.
Large Premium SUV: Lincoln Navigator
Starting Price: $63,195
The flagship SUV of the Lincoln lineup, the Navigator features a grille with the Lincoln signature “split wing” design, as well as HID headlights with LED accents. Inside, customers will find premium leather and exotic Ziricote wood trim, as well as SYNC with MyLincoln Touch. Also available on Navigator is a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine producing 380 horsepower and an impressive 460 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is rates as high as 22 mpg on the highway for 2WD models — impressive for this massive luxury SUV. Look for an all-new Navigator arriving in the next year based on the stylish concept displayed at the 2016 New York Auto Show.
Large Light-Duty Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado
Starting Price: $27,195
The Silverado is the best-selling vehicle in the General Motors lineup, as well as the perennial second-highest-selling vehicle in America. Winner of the prestigious North American Truck of the Year award in 2014, the Silverado 1500 is available in hundreds of configurations with different cab styles, drive systems, engines, bed lengths and trim levels. This broad range of availability helps make the Silverado 1500 a great option for just about any truck buyer.
Large Heavy-Duty Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado HD
Starting Price: $32,955
When you climb into the heavy-duty truck market, the choices narrow for consumers. The Silverado HD combines impressive capability with a comfortable cabin and driving ease. The latter is further improved with Chevrolet’s New Digital Steering Assist power steering — designed to make hauling and trailering easier with electronic controls that enhance roadholding and stability on the highway. Silverado HD can tow as much as 18,000 pounds when properly equipped.