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5 Most Improved Auto Brands in the 2014 Initial Quality Study

By: Jeff Youngs, 6/27/2014

While the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality StudySM (IQS) finds that new or redesigned models are typically more problematic than older models that are carried over from the previous model year, and although the data reveals that the infotainment systems installed in modern vehicles are a primary source of owner dissatisfaction, five vehicle brands improved their overall performance in the 2014 IQS despite launching new models and new technologies.

Listed below, in reverse order from least improved to most improved, are those auto brands that saw the largest reduction in reported problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) in the 2014 IQS. Note: a lower PP100 score is indicative of higher vehicle quality.

Ford
Ford improved its IQS performance by 15 PP100 this year, improving from 131 PP100 in the 2013 IQS to 116 PP100--equal to the overall industry average--in the 2014 IQS. In 2014, Ford updated and improved its MyFord Touch technology in several of its models, and expanded availability of the system. The company also launched a new commercial van lineup with the big Transit and smaller Transit Connect.

Ram
Following a year in which the Ram pickup line saw significant changes, Chrysler's Ram division launched a new ProMaster commercial van series in 2014. The Ram 1500 received a new diesel engine option, and Ram expanded the available Uconnect infotainment system's capabilities. For 2014, Ram's PP100 score was 116, up from 132 PP100 in 2013 and an improvement of 16 PP100--matching the overall brand average in this year's IQS.

Jaguar
Improving by 17 PP100 to a score of 87 PP100, Jaguar is ranked second overall in the 2014 IQS, slotting between No. 1 Porsche and No. 3 Lexus. In 2014, Jaguar launched its new F-Type sports car, expanded the capabilities of its infotainment systems, and expanded the engine ranges in its XF and XJ sedan models.

Scion
Following the rollout of the FR-S sporty car in 2013, Scion made no major changes to any of its products for the 2014 model year. However, the popular tC model received a mid-life refresh and all Scion models added a new touch-screen audio system as standard equipment. In the 2014 IQS, Scion improved by 21 PP100, but still ranks below the 116 PP100 industry average, coming in at 140 PP100.

Nissan
Despite launching a redesigned Rogue compact crossover SUV, the new Versa Note small hatchback, and the Pathfinder Hybrid, Nissan was the most improved brand in the 2014 IQS. At the same time, Nissan expanded the capabilities of its NissanConnect technology with new mobile applications. Nissan's PP100 score improved from 142 PP100 last year to 120 PP100 this year, but the brand still ranks below the industry average of 116 PP100.

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