J. D. Power and Associates (JDPA) released the 2011 results of their much-watched Initial Quality Study (IQS). The noteworthy findings are:
- Lexus has the fewest problems of any brand in the industry. The leading seller of luxury vehicles in the US won highest-quality awards in every segment in which they were eligible, with ES, GS, GX, and — most notably — the LS, which was the best vehicle in the entire industry with only 54 Problems Per 100. Just to put that in perspective, that means that roughly half of the LS’s that roll of the assembly line have no problems whatsoever — no paint chips, no cupholder failings, no glitches in the fancy electronics. Nothing.
- Honda was second overall and the leading non-luxury brand, walking away with wins in six categories (they tied themselves in one of the categories, so they actually won seven awards)
- Toyota rebounded from an off-year by jumping back up into the Top 10 (gee, you think the recall scare was just a bit over-hyped??). The juggernaut was the highest ranked full-line manufacturer (making cars, trucks, SUV’s, vans, etc. . . . Honda doesn’t make real trucks)
- Ford dropped like a rock, ending up way below the industry average and all the way down to 23rd place. Negativity centered around Ford’s touted Sync and MyFordTouch system(s). As Dave Sargent of JDPA said, ““Ford’s decline in the study is primarily driven by consumers reporting both usability problems and actual functionality problems with the MyFordTouch system. . . . Some consumers are saying the system is, let’s be kind here, more complex than they would like.”
Mr. Sargent is definitely being kind. For anyone that’s used MyFordTouch, it is an utter trainwreck. Despite Ford’s commercials and social networking blitz to the contrary, the usability is awful, the flow from function to function is jerky and jarring, and the voice recognition is unreliable. They also got slammed because some of their fuel-saving “environmentally friendly” powertrain changes often provided drivers a ride as jerkier than the screen-to-screen transitions of MyFordTouch. In short, Ford over promised and under delivered.
It’s always interesting to see which of the various stories the media chooses to latch onto: Lexus being #1? Perhaps Honda winning all of those awards? No, the vast majority of the press went straight at Ford:
- ‘Aggravating’ MyFord Touch Sends Ford Plummeting in J.D. Power Quality Survey (The New York Times)
- Ford plunges to 23rd in Auto Quality Survey (Bloomberg)
- You knew someone would use a title like this: Sync sinks Ford’s J.D. Power quality ratings (CNN Money)
- Ford Stumbles, Toyota Recovers in Annual Quality Study (Detroit Free Press)
- Auto quality slumps in 2011; imports regain edge (Los Angeles Times)
- This one not only skips Ford’s badnews, they skip Honda’s good news too: Lexus, Acura, Mercedes top J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey (USA Today)