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2011 Initial Quality Study Results from JD Power
Excessive wind noise remains most common complaint

As the level of technology in today’s new cars and trucks increases, so too does the challenge for automakers to design and build vehicles with the high levels of initial quality that consumers have come to expect. In recent years, features such as adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, side blind-zone alert, reverse-parking assist systems, and many others have become standard equipment in many luxury car models. Some technologies, such as navigation and tire-pressure monitoring, can now be found in even the most economy-minded models. While all of this technology certainly has advanced the automobile as a concept, it often has presented challenges for automakers when it comes to new-vehicle quality.

Hands-free Communication Systems

One tech feature, in particular, that can give automakers headaches is hands-free communication systems. Indeed, in the recently released J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Initial Quality StudySM (IQS), which measures new-vehicle quality after 90 days of ownership, Hands-free communication does not recognize command is the second-most-frequently reported problem (Excessive wind noise is first and has been for many years).

To illustrate how significant the issue has become, in 2006 Hands-free communication does not recognize command did not even appear among the top 20 industry problems in the IQS study. During the past five years, the number of owner-reported problems with hands-free communication systems has increased by nearly 240% (to 6.1 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100)* in 2011 from 1.8 PP100 in 2007). This increase in problems mirrors the increase in the number of models equipped with a hands-free communication system, to 31% in 2011 from 10% in 2007.

The issue is gaining more attention in the industry, as an increasing number of models are equipped with hands-free technology. Unlike features such as tire-pressure-monitoring systems, however, hands-free communication isn’t federally mandated. Manufacturers have been adding the feature to improve driver safety and lessen the possibility of driver distraction as well as in response to laws in some states barring the use of handheld devices while driving.

*Note: Study results are communicated using a “problems per 100 vehicles (PP100)” metric, where a lower PP100 indicates higher initial quality.

2011 Iinitial Quality Study Award Recipients

Sub-Compact Car
Highest Ranked: Honda Fit
Kia Rio
Hyundai Accent

Compact Car
Highest Ranked: Honda Civic (tie)
Highest Ranked: Honda Insight (tie)
Toyota Prius

Compact Sporty Car
Highest Ranked: Mazda MX-5 Miata
Volkswagen Eos
Volkswagen GTI

Compact Premium Sporty Car*
Highest Ranked: Mercedes-Benz
E-Class Cabriolet/Coupe

Entry Premium Car
Highest Ranked: Lexus ES
Acura TSX
Lexus IS

Midsize Premium Car
Highest Ranked: Lexus GS
Jaguar XF
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan/Wagon

Midsize Sporty Car*
Highest Ranked: Dodge Challenger
Chevrolet Camaro

Large Premium Car
Highest Ranked: Lexus LS
Hyundai Equus
Porsche Panamera

Midsize Car
Highest Ranked: Honda Accord
Subaru Legacy
Toyota Camry

Large Car
Highest Ranked: Ford Taurus
Buick Lucerne
Nissan Maxima

Posted Sept. 12, 2011 © For more detailed findings on new-vehicle quality performance,



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