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Notable Brand Performances in the 2014 Initial Quality Study

By: Jeff Youngs, 6/27/2014

The annual J.D. Power Initial Quality StudySM (IQS) measures the problems experienced by new-vehicle owners during the first 90 days of ownership. In this benchmark study, owners of new cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans report what has gone right and what has gone wrong with their vehicle during the 3-month time frame.

In the 2014 IQS, several auto brands have improved or declined notably in terms of overall quality compared with last year. Highlights are discussed below.

Greatest Decline among Brands
In the 2014 IQS, several vehicle brands substantially improve in the quality rankings, while other brands decline substantially. Acura, GMC, and Infiniti decline significantly in 2014, compared with 2013, and each launched redesigned or new versions of their best-selling models.

Historically, new and redesigned models are more problematic than those that are carried over from a previous model year with few or no changes. Findings from the 2014 IQS show that new and redesigned nameplates have a higher incidence of complaints associated with voice-recognition systems, Bluetooth systems, and audio systems.

Acura ranks 25th among all brands in 2014, which is a decline from the sixth ranked position among all brands in 2013. For 2014, Acura introduced a redesigned MDX crossover SUV, its most popular model and one loaded with new technology operated using static and touch-screen displays, a voice-recognition system, and more.

Infiniti ranks 23rd in the 2014 IQS, declining from the fourth ranked position in the 2013 IQS. Infiniti's best-selling model, the G37 sedan, was redesigned and renamed as the Q50 for the 2014 model year, and it introduced the company's new Infiniti InTouch dual-screen infotainment system.

Falling to the 16th ranked position in 2014 from the second ranked position last year, GMC's overall initial quality performance suffered during the same year that it launched a redesigned 2014 Sierra 1500 light-duty pickup truck. The Sierra is offered with the latest version of GMC's IntelliLink touch-screen infotainment and connectivity system.

Greatest Improvement among Brands
Among vehicle brands that improved their initial-quality performance in 2014, Ram leads the field, rising to rank 16th in 2014 from the 28th ranked position in 2013. This year, Ram debuted two new engines for its pickup trucks and introduced a new ProMaster commercial van lineup.

Nissan improved to rank 19th this year from the 30th position last year. The automaker debuted a redesigned Rogue compact crossover SUV, a new small Nissan Versa Note hatchback model, a new compact commercial van called the NV200, and a new hybrid version of the Pathfinder crossover SUV.

The Ford brand matched Nissan's performance in terms of improvement (+11 rank positions), rising to the 16th ranked position from the 27th position in 2013. The automaker has continuously worked to improve its MyFord Touch infotainment system since it debuted several years ago, as well as to improve shift performance of its automated manual transmissions. Also, aside from introducing new Transit Connect and Transit commercial vans, Ford made few changes to its models for the 2014 model year.

BMW also improved its performance in the 2014 IQS, with a 10-rank-position gain to 8th place from 18th place last year despite launching the new 2 Series, new 4 Series, and a redesigned X5 crossover SUV.

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