Porsche On Top
Porsche and Kia are not often ranked first and second on the same list, but based on the 2015 U.S. Initial Quality Study produced by J.D. Power — a global marketing information services company — these two automotive brands had the fewest problems experienced by new-car buyers. J.D. Power’s initial quality ranking is based on the number of problems per 100 vehicles (PP100). A lower score indicates higher quality. The study is tabulated according to responses from more than 84,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2015 model-year vehicles, surveyed after 90 days of ownership.
After seeing a drop in quality last year, the industry has turned around and J.D. Power reports a 3 percent improvement in initial quality year over year. Porsche led all car companies with an average rating of just 80 PP100, with Kia following with a score of 86 PP100. Jaguar, Hyundai and Infiniti round out the top five manufacturers. While Korean brands led the industry overall, for the first time in 29 years Japanese brands collectively fell below the industry average. In addition to ranking the manufacturers, J.D. Power ranks vehicles in 26 different categories. Here’s a look at the category winners.
City Car: Chevrolet Spark
Starting Price: $12,270
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. And now you can add initial quality to that list. 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. On the safety front, Spark delivers with 10 airbags, and it was an IIHS Top Safety Pick in 2014. This fall, look for an updated Spark with more power, fresh styling and new safety features.
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: BMW 2 Series
Starting Price: $32,100
BMW’s 2 Series was introduced last year as part of the brand’s new naming convention — even numbers are 2-door models, odd numbers are 4-doors models (although there are some exceptions to the rule). The successor to the 1 Series Coupe, the 2 Series is available as a hardtop or convertible with a variety of engine offerings, including a high-performance 320-horsepower powerplant in the sporty M235i Coupe.
Compact Car: Nissan Sentra
Starting Price: $16,480
Currently in it seventh generation, the Sentra small sedan has not changed much since 2012, but has nevertheless stayed quite popular. Chalk up some sales to Sentra’s excellent value, featuring such items as a standard USB connection port, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, illuminated steering wheel audio controls and cruise control in a car that starts below $17,000. And clearly customers are happy, at least during the first 90 days of ownership.
Compact Sporty Car: Mazda MX-5 Miata
Starting Price: $23,970
Proving that you don’t need big power to have big fun, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of the most popular roadsters on the market. In fact, the Miata holds the Guinness world record as the best-selling 2-seat roadster in the world. With prices starting below $25,000, this perfectly balanced convertible will certainly put a smile on your face — perhaps one of the reasons it has fewer initial problems than any other compact sporty car. Later this summer an all-new 2016 MX-5 Miata will come to market, offering what we anticipate to be the same enjoyable experience.
Compact Premium Car: BMW 4 Series
Starting Price: $40,300
Similar to the BMW 2 Series in the lineup, the BMW 4 Series replaces the 3 Series coupe and convertible models. Available with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, the 4 Series is an excellent driver’s car as one would expect from BMW. Engine options range from the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder in the 428i to the 425-horsepower in-line 6 found in the high-performance M4. BMW has also added a 4-door variant to the 4 Series lineup called the Gran Coupe which features the sleek lines of a coupe with the versatility of four doors.
Compact Premium Sporty Car: Porsche Boxster
Starting Price: $52,100
Driving a Porsche — any Porsche — is an awesome experience. Steering is spot on, handling is perfect, and it responds so quickly that the car seems to be reading your mind. The lightweight Boxster delivers on this description, and drivers get to enjoy some fresh air as well. The rear-drive mid-engine configuration provides outstanding agility, and the 265 horses offer plenty of oomph. With two luggage compartments — front and back — you might even have room for an overnight bag.
Midsize Car: Chevrolet Malibu
Starting Price: $22,465
Chevrolet introduced the Malibu name back in 1964 — when it was a top-line version of the Chevelle — making it the longest running midsize nameplate in the industry. The current version is the eighth generation, and it has been the top Midsize Car in the IQS for two years in a row. The stylish sedan offers a roomy rear seat, spacious trunk, and a number of conveniences including a secret storage location behind the touchscreen radio. The 2015 Malibu is the last of the current generation — an all-new 2016 Malibu was recently introduced at the New York Auto Show and arrives in showrooms this fall.
Midsize Sporty Car: Dodge Challenger
Starting Price: $26,995
Leading the Midsize Sporty Car category for the second 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 Challenger is best known as a true rear-wheel-drive muscle car with a variety of powerful engines available — the most notorious being the 707-horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine found in the aptly-named Hellcat.
Midsize Premium Car: BMW 5 Series
Starting Price: $49,950
The 5 Series is the third BMW to lead its category in the 2015 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study — a considerable improvement over the last few years. The legendary sport sedan continues with the formula that has worked well through the years: front engine, rear-wheel drive, great performance and excellent handling. However, BMW has expanded the 5 Series range, which is now offered with two fuel-efficient options — a diesel and a hybrid — while still retaining its sporting driving demeanor.
Midsize Premium Sporty Car: Porsche 911
Starting Price: $84,300
The Porsche 911 has led its category — with the best IQS score of all nameplates — for the past four years. For almost 50 years the iconic 911 has been one of the best sports cars on the planet, offering up 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: Chrysler 300
Starting Price: $31,695
The 300 is one of the only large rear-wheel-drive sedans left on the market, and this is the first year it has led its class in the J.D. Power IQS. Restyled for the 2015 model year, the 300 was originally introduced back in 1955. That original 300 stood out from its competitors with impressive performance and high-end amenities — the formula still fits for the current 300. The boldly-styled 300 comes well equipped with features such as a standard 7-inch full-color driver information display and a class-exclusive electronic rotary transmission shifter.
Large Premium Car: Lexus LS
Starting Price: $72,520
The LS is the flagship of the Lexus lineup and is the only model from the luxury brand to rank highest in an Initial Quality Study category. Proving that top luxury sedans don’t have to come from Europe, the LS is available with a powerful V8 engine or a more powerful hybrid powertrain in the LS 600h. Even the most basic LS is well equipped with high-end items including power door closers, wood and aluminum accent trim, leather trimmed 16-way power driver’s seat and a large 12.3-inch center display screen.
Small SUV: Hyundai Tucson
Starting Price: $21,650
Over the past decade, the Korean automaker has developed a reputation for building stylish vehicles that are excellent values — the Tucson fits this description to a tee. In addition to its impressive 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, the Tucson has standard premium features including 17-inch alloy wheels, projector headlights with LED headlight accents, a remote keyless entry system with alarm, an AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 audio system with iPod/USB/auxiliary input jacks and a Bluetooth mobile interface. Look for an all-new Tucson arriving later this year with updated styling and added features.
Small Premium SUV: Audi Q3
Starting Price: $32,500
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: $22,120
An interesting situation between the Chevrolet Equinox and Ford Escape: they are tied for having the lowest number of initial quality issues, and the two SUVs are also virtually tied in overall vehicle sales in America. The Equinox is Chevrolet’s smallest SUV but still offers a roomy interior with seating for up to five passengers. In addition to its advanced safety features and entertainment options, the Equinox can be equipped with OnStar with 4G LTE and a standard built-in Wi-Fi hotpot to keep occupants connected via their devices.
Compact SUV (tie): Ford Escape
Starting Price: $23,450
It’s been a few years since the Ford Escape received its last update, but not only has the small SUV performed well in initial quality, it is one of the best-selling SUVs in America and Ford’s best-selling SUV overall. Available with the fuel-efficient EcoBoost powertrain and a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic, the Escape can be well equipped with innovative features such as a hands-free tailgate and Curve Control technology. The Escape can also tow up to 3,500 pounds —unusual for a compact SUV.
Compact Premium SUV: Porsche Macan
Starting Price: $49,900
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 producing 340 horsepower, and the Macan Turbo sports a larger 3.6-liter twin-turbo 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 five seconds, while the Turbo manages the same feat in just 4.4 seconds.
Compact MPV: Kia Soul
Starting Price: $15,100
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 first time. 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.
Midsize SUV: Kia Sorento
Starting Price: $24,300
Kia builds some of the most attractive high-value cars on the market, and the Sorento is yet another excellent example. This midsize crossover can seat up to seven and is available with a powerful 290-horsepower V6 engine as well as full-time all-wheel drive. Trim levels range from the basic LX to the top-of-the-line SX-L that features leather and wood trim, heated seats and steering wheel, dual-zone climate control and a high-end audio system with Bluetooth wireless technology. Look for an all-new Sorento for the 2016 model year arriving soon.
Midsize Premium SUV: Infiniti QX70
Starting Price: $45,850
Infiniti refers to the QX70 as a “performance crossover,” and it certainly delivers on that claim. Power comes from a 3.7-liter V6 putting out an impressive 325 horsepower teamed with a 7-speed automatic transmission. Formerly called the FX, the 5-passenger crossover is available in rear- or all-wheel drive and features all the luxury amenities you’d expect in an Infiniti, including leather-trimmed heated 8-way power front seats, a sunroof, bi-Xenon HID headlights, a rearview camera and a 11-speaker Bose audio system.
Midsize Pickup: Toyota Tacoma
Starting Price: $20,965
The best-selling compact pickup truck in America by a wide margin, the Tacoma offers so much versatility that many buyers reconsider their need for a full-size pickup. Available with an Access Cab (extended cab) or 4-door Double Cab, the Tacoma can be equipped as a basic 2WD work truck or, at the other end of the scale, it can be set up like an off-road racer with the TRD Pro package. The TRD Pro Series adds a beefed-up body and chassis, raised ride height, updated suspension with greater wheel travel and all-terrain tires. Look for an all-new Tacoma arriving this fall.
Minivan: Nissan Quest
Starting Price: $26,530
The Nissan Quest may not be the best-selling minivan in the industry, but is certainly holds its own against other minivans on the market with plenty of interior space and a number of innovative, useful features. A one-touch unlock/open of the power sliding rear doors makes ingress and egress a breeze — especially convenient when your hands are full. Inside, Quest has “theater-style” seating — the second and third rows are slightly raised to provide better visibility. Dual glass sunroofs help even third-row occupants feel less claustrophobic, and a conversation mirror at the front keeps those banished to the rear seats in constant view of the driver.
Large SUV: Toyota Sequoia
Starting Price: $44,395
The Toyota Sequoia is more than just a large 8-passenger SUV — it is also a fully capable off-roader. Employing a 381-horsepower V8 for optimum towing power, the Sequoia is available with a Multi-Mode 4-wheel drive system that uses a 2-speed transfer case with a locking limited-slip center differential to distribute torque to the front and rear wheels as needed. Passengers will have plenty of room with either the standard 8-passenger seating or the optional 7-passenger setup with second-row captain’s chairs.
Large Premium SUV: Infiniti QX80
Starting Price: $63,250
The largest Infiniti on the market, the QX80 offers high-end amenities in a full-size SUV. With updated styling for the 2015 model year, the QX80 has been at the top of its IQS category for two years in a row. The 400-horsepower V8 engine provides plenty of power, allowing the QX80 to tow up to 8,500 pounds. The large SUV carries up to 8 passengers in comfort, with available features such as leather seats, heated and cooled power front seats, heated second-row seats, tri-zone automatic climate control and the innovative Around View Monitor.
Large Light-Duty Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado
Starting Price: $26,170
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 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: Ford Super Duty
Starting Price: $31,810
The Ford Super Duty boasts incredible capabilities, with vehicles ranging from the F-250 to the unparalleled F-450. Two engines are available in the F-Series Super Duty: a 6.2-liter V8 or — for the ultimate power — a 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 that puts out a massive 860 lb-ft of torque at just 1600 rpm. The diesel engine gives the F-450 a max towing capacity of more than 30,000 pounds.