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Chrysler remains below average in initial quality

by David Zatz on

Lexus took its traditional top spot in J.D. Power’s 90-day initial quality study, with Porsche and Cadillac within one problem per hundred of each other in second and third place. They were followed by once-scorned Hyundai, with 95 problems per hundred vehicles.

The Lincoln brand, which had been above average, fell to far below average with 129 problems per vehicle compared with the industry average of 108. All Chrysler brands were also below average, with Dodge at 134, Chrysler at 136, and Jeep at 137. The bottom was tied down by Mini with 165 problems per hundred (parent BMW hit 112), Land Rover with 150 problems per hundred, and Mercedes’ smart brand with 138.

Import brands below the average were Nissan, Acura, BMW, Kia, Volkswagen, Audi, Toyota’s Scion, Volvo, Mazda, Subaru, Jaguar, Mitsubishi, Saab, and the aforementioned smart, Land Rover, and Mini.  Of note is the fact that each luxury brand’s entry-level sibling was far below average – Mini, smart, and Scion.

Some oddities included Ford scoring well above Lincoln, Honda above Acura, Chevrolet above Buick, and Volkswagen above Audi.

Chrysler did score one best-in-class, for the PT Cruiser, which tied with the CR-V for compact MAV (SUV). GMC did well in trucks, scoring tops in midsize MAV (TrailBlazer tied with Edge and 4Runner) and large MAV (Yukon).

The applicability of the J.D. Power survey is limited, since with a 90 day span it tends to measure dealer preparation and factory quality checks more than long-term reliability. However, Chrysler’s dismal showing is a bad sign given that Cerberus’ Chrysler management had been talking about massive quality gains with recent vehicles. It is possible that Chrysler is facing a time lag as customers have still been buying 2008 and early 2009 vehicles from the lots.

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