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2009 Initial Quality Study

Embattled US automakers make substantial gains in initial quality

While quality gap continues to narrow, import nameplates capture 15 of 22 segment awards in JD Power Initial Quality Study.
2009 IQS from J.D. Power and Associates.
June 22, 2021 - New vehicles sold by Chrysler, Ford and GM's domestic brands have improved in initial quality by an average of 10%, compared with 2008, surpassing the 8% rate of improvement by the industry overall, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Initial Quality Study (IQS).

Overall, the industry average for initial quality is 108 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) in 2009, down from 118 PP100 in 2008. Initial quality for domestic brands has improved to an average of 112 PP100 in 2009 from 124 PP100 in 2008. Lower PP100 scores indicate a lower rate of problem incidences and higher quality.

“Even in the face of unprecedented challenges, the Detroit automakers are keeping their focus on designing and building high-quality vehicles, which is a precondition for long-term success,” said David Sargent, vice-president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates.

“High quality generally translates into reduced re-engineering costs and lower warranty expenses during a vehicle's life cycle. High quality also enhances an automaker's reputation for reliability, which is a critical purchase consideration for many consumers.”

In addition to the marked improvement by domestic automakers, many import brands continued to perform well in 2009. Lexus leads the overall nameplate rankings, averaging 84 PP100. Following in the rankings are Porsche, Cadillac (which moves from 10th rank position in 2008 to third in 2009), Hyundai (improves from 13th rank position in 2008 to fourth in 2009) and Honda, rounding out the top five. Suzuki posts the largest improvement in ranking, moving from 32nd place in 2008 to ninth in 2009.

The study finds that initial quality for newly launched and redesigned models in 2009 has improved compared with previous years. Historically, all-new models have typically launched with below-average levels of initial quality. However, several all-new models in 2009, including the Hyundai Genesis, Kia Borrego, Toyota Venza and Volkswagen CC, perform considerably better than their respective segment averages. Many redesigned models in 2009 also show notable improvement from the previous generation - particularly the Acura TL, Ford F-150, Honda Pilot and Nissan Z.

“Achieving high levels of initial quality in all-new models is one of the greatest challenges for manufacturers,” said Sargent. “Now that more manufacturers are getting their launch quality right straight out of the gate, consumers can expect the quality of new vehicles to continue to rise.”

The Initial Quality Study serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality measured at 90 days of ownership. The study is used extensively by manufacturers worldwide to help them design and build better vehicles and by consumers to help them in their vehicle purchase decisions. Initial quality has been shown over the years to be an excellent predictor of long-term durability, which can significantly impact consumer purchase decisions. The study captures problems experienced by owners in two distinct categories-design-related problems and defects and malfunctions.

2009 IQS Ranking Highlights

Lexus models topped the 2009 IQS rankings.Toyota Motor Corporation captures 10 segment awards-more than any other corporation in the 2009 study-including five for Lexus, four for Toyota and one for Scion. Lexus receives awards for the IS, GS, GX, LS and LX models. The Lexus LX has the fewest quality problems in the industry, with just 52 PP100. Toyota models receiving awards in their respective segments are the 4Runner (in a tie); Sienna; Tundra (in a tie); and Yaris.

Ford receives three awards for the Edge (in a tie); F-150 (in a tie); and Mustang. Garnering two awards each are Nissan (Altima and Z); and Honda (CR-V, in a tie, and Ridgeline).

Also receiving segment awards are: Chevrolet Trailblazer (in a tie), Chrysler PT Cruiser Wagon (in a tie), GMC Yukon, Hyundai Elantra Sedan, Mercury Sable and Scion tC. (The Mercury brand is no longer available in Canada.)

Find more detailed results on new-vehicle quality performance as well as model photos and specs by reading an article, browsing a photo gallery and reviewing quality ratings at

2009 IQS Rankings

Here are the top performers and runners-up in each category of the J.D. Power and Associates initial quality study for 2009 model year vehicles.

Subcompact car
-Highest ranked: Toyota Yaris
-Runners-up: Hyundai Accent, Honda Fit
Compact car
-Highest ranked: Hyundai Elantra sedan
-Runners-up: Toyota Prius, Honda Civic
Compact sporty car
-Highest ranked: Scion tC
-Runners-up: Volkswagen GTI
Compact premium sporty car
-Highest ranked: Nissan Z
-Runners-up: Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
Entry premium car
-Highest ranked: Lexus IS
-Runners-up: Cadillac CTS, Infiniti G-Series
Midsize car
-Highest ranked: Nissan Altima
-Runners-up: Pontiac G6, Chevrolet Malibu
Midsize sporty car
-Highest ranked: Ford Mustang
-Runners-up: none
Midsize premium car
-Highest ranked: Lexus GS
-Runners-up: Acura RL, Lexus ES
Large car
-Highest ranked: Mercury Sable
-Runners-up: Toyota Avalon, Chevrolet Impala
Large premium car
-Winners: Lexus LS
-Runner-up: Mercedes Benz S-Class
Compact activity vehicle (activity vehicles are crossovers and sport utility vehicles)
-Highest ranked: Chrysler PT Cruiser Wagon, Honda CR-V (tie)
-Runner-up: Mitsubishi Outlander
Midsize activity vehicle
-Highest ranked: Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Ford Edge, Toyota 4Runner (tie)
-Runners-up: none
Midsize premium activity vehicle
-Highest ranked: Lexus GX
-Runners-up: Lexus RX, Cadillac SRX
Large activity vehicle
-Highest ranked: GMC Yukon
-Runners-up: Chevrolet Tahoe
Large premium activity vehicle
-Highest ranked: Lexus LX
-Runners-up: Cadillac Escalade, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
Midsize pickup
-Highest ranked: Honda Ridgeline
-Runners-up: Nissan Frontier, Ford Ranger
Large pickup
-Highest ranked: Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra (tie)
-Runners-up: Chevrolet Avalanche
-Highest ranked: Toyota Sienna
-Runners-up: Honda Odyssey

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