Lexus Outdoes Detroit 3 in Quality

DETROIT-The latest quality study was not as ‘closely watched’ as its predecessors-and for good reason. General Motors had high hopes of placing No. 1 or No. 2 in the final rankings this year, but it fell short as its Cadillac brand finished only third behind repeater No. 1 Lexus/Scion in initial quality rankings. Cadillac was a disappointing fourth last year.

The annual quality survey by J.D. Power and Associates dealt some serious blows to Ford and Chrysler, owing to setbacks for the automakers My Ford Touch and Ford Lincoln Touch infotainment hands-free systems. Ford fell in the rankings to 28th out of 34 brands tested, with 118 problems reported for every 100 vehicles, as consumers continued to ‘dis’ operational hardships on both entertainment and phone systems in Ford and Lincoln models.

Once again, high marks were scored by luxury brands Jaguar in second place and Porsche in third. No. 1 Lexus had only 73 problems for every 100 vehicles; Jaguar and Porsche 75 each; Honda, 83; followed by Acura, Infiniti; Mercedes Benz, BMW and Mazda.

Trailing again in quality scores was the Chrysler Group. The Ram pickup finished 12th, up from 20th; Jeep advanced to 23rd from 25th and Dodge to 29th from 31st. But despite a multi-million dollar investment in quality upgrades, Chrysler and Jeep fell nine spots to 25th and Chrysler’s Fiat 500 minicompact shared last place with Daimler’s Smart brand.

J.D. Power analyst Dave Sargent, noting the industry wide problems with technology advances such as touch-screen and GPS miscues, said the 2012 results should be an impetus toward keeping new systems less complicated.