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Kia and Hyundai star in US quality survey

2015 Kia Sorento SLi

Korean brands, once scoffed at for their poor quality and reliability, have ranked near the top of the class in a respected US quality survey.

Kia ranked second only to Porsche in the survey, while sister brand Hyundai finished fourth, ahead of all the leading Japanese brands – once seen as the pinnacle in quality and reliability.

The recently released Kia Sorento topped its model category, while the soon-to-be-released Hyundai Tucson also finished first in its segment.

Korean brands lead the industry from Germany, Japan and the United States.

The JD Power US Initial Quality Survey looks at problems experienced by owners in the first 90 days of ownership. The survey of 84,000 buyers ranks models by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles.

Lexus and Toyota have traditionally led the survey, but this year they have slipped to ninth and 10th respectively. Japanese brands have collectively fallen below the industry average for the first time in 29 years.

“This is a clear shift in the quality landscape,” says Renee Stephens, vice president of US automotive quality at JD Power.

Korean brands lead the industry from Germany, Japan and the United States.

“For so long, Japanese brands have been viewed by many as the gold standard in vehicle quality. While the Japanese brands continue to make improvements, we’re seeing other brands, most notably Korean makes, really accelerating the rate of improvement.

Leading companies are not only stepping up the pace of improvements on existing models but are also working up front to launch vehicles with higher quality and more intuitive designs,” she says.

The survey of 33 brands comes with some caveats for Australian buyers – it was done in the United States and some of the cars surveyed were built in different plants to the ones sold here.

But it remains the best published guide to vehicle quality available to Australian consumers because local brands have an agreement to keep their quality surveys from the public. They use the same metrics but only share the data among themselves on the proviso that no-one makes the information public.

Brands to finish above the industry average include Jaguar (3rd), Infiniti (5th), BMW (6th), Chevrolet (7th), Ford (12th), Honda (14th) and Mercedes-Benz (15th).

Three of the bottom five brands for quality were part of the Fiat-Chrysler group, with Fiat last, Chrysler third last and Jeep fifth-last.

Other well-known brands to finish in the bottom ten included Subaru, Land Rover, Mitsubishi and Volkswagen.

Entertainment and communication systems remain the most problematic area, with Bluetooth hook-ups causing the most frustration.

Top 10 brands
(problems per 100 vehicles - lower is better)

1 - Porsche (80)
2 - Kia (86)
3 - Jaguar (93)
4 - Hyundai (95)
5 - Infiniti (97)
6 - BMW (99)
7 - Chevrolet (101)
8 - Lincoln (103)
9 - Lexus (104)
10 - Toyota (104)