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Porsche tops quality survey

Toyota, Lexus top most vehicle segments in revised J.D. Power Initial Quality Study.

June 8, 2006; Posted: 9:12 a.m. EDT (1312 GMT)

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Porsche rises to the top in a new J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Survey. The survey was revised this year to take into account inherent design issues as well as malfunctions and manufacturing defects.

According to J.D. Power's survey of new vehicle owners, Porsche had 91 problems per 100 vehicles. Lexus, Toyota's luxury brand, came in a close second with 93 problems per 100 vehicles. Korea-based Hyundai ranked third with 102. The industry average was 124.

Toyota and Lexus ranked highest in most vehicle segments in the survey.

This year's scores are not comparable to those of previous years because this year, for the first time, J.D. Power considered design flaws that bother consumers as well as actual defects. Had the ranking been based on defects alone, Lexus would have ranked first and Porsche second.

"In the eyes of consumers, design flaws can have as much of an impact on their perceptions of quality as can a defect," said Joe Ivers, executive director of quality and customer satisfaction research for J.D. Power and Associates. "Yet, many manufacturers have tended to address quality solely on the plant floor without considering design factors."

Vehicle brands can vary widely in the two quality measures.

"For example, BMW vehicles have among the fewest defects and malfunctions, along with Toyota," said Ivers. "But BMW approaches controls and displays in a way that creates some problems for customers, leading to more design-related problems overall than Toyota incurs."

BMW ranked well below average in the survey with 142 problems per 100 vehicles.

A BMW spokesman attributed the large number of design-related issues to the amount of advanced technology in the company's vehicles.

"We are known, and we are expected to be, a leader in cutting edge technology," said David Buchko, a BMW spokesman.

New owners may have trouble using some of the vehicles' technology simply because it is unfimiliar to them, he said.

Some have suggest that the new J.D. Power rating system creates an "innovation penalty" said J.D. Power's Ivers. But companies can integrate technology in a way that doesn't annoy customers, he said.

"You won't have failures related to a parking assist system if you don't have a parking assist system," he said. "Then Lexus comes out with one and customers don't have any propblem with it."

Land Rover, the British luxury SUV brand owned by Ford Motor Co., ranked last in the survey with 204 problems per 100 vehicles. But Jaguar, the British luxury car brand also owned by Ford, ranked fourth overall, just behind Toyota, with 109 problems per 100 vehicles.

J.D. Power's Initial Qualty Study was based on responses from 63,907 owners and lessees of new 2006 model-year cars and trucks. They were surveyed after 90 days of ownership.

Highest-ranked vehicles

Sub-compact car: Kia Rio/Suzuki Aerio (tie)

Compact car: Toyota Corolla

Compact Sporty Car: Mazda MX-5 Miata

Compact premium sporty car: Porsche Cayman

Entry Premium car: Lexus IS250/IS 350

Midsize Premium Car: Lexus ES330

Large Premium Car: Lexus LS430

Premium Sporty Car: Lexus SC430

Premium Sporty Car: Toyota Solara

Midsize Car: Toyota Camry

Large Car: Pontiac Grand Prix

Compact Multi-activity Vehicle (MAV): Hyundai Tucson

Midsize MAV: Toyota Highlander

Large MAV: Toyota Sequoia

Midsize Premium MAV: Lexus GX470

Large Premium MAV: Lexus LX470

Large Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado LD

Midsize Pickup: Ford Ranger

Van: Chrysler Town & Country

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