Sunday, July 4, 2010

highest quality cars of 2010

Highest-Quality Cars Of 2010
Buyers report the fewest defects in these new car models.

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Buzz Up!
By Hannah Elliott
2010 Ford Mustang
2010 Ford Mustang

Porsche is having a bang-up year. Last week it earned the highest rating of any carmaker in J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Quality Survey--and that's the fourth time they've done so in five years. Earlier this spring Porsche also won top honors in JD Power's prestigious vehicle dependability study.

But that doesn't mean the Stuttgart, Germany-based manufacturer is resting on its laurels. Instead, it's deliberately calculating every move and hoping to uphold standards when it launches the new 911 Carrera Turbo S, Cayenne Hybrid, V6 Panamera and Boxster Spyder in the next year.

"I think everybody's a bit tentative and, especially in the luxury market, you have to be very tentative, you have to be very competitive," says Tony Fouladpour, a spokesman for Porsche. "You have to basically not slip up."


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It's no big surprise that Porsche is receiving accolades for its high quality. But it may be shocking to hear that in 2010 the world's most reliable cars don't come from Europe: They're straight out of Detroit, Mich. For the first time ever, domestic brands as a whole earned higher initial quality scores than imports in JD Power's 2010 vehicle dependability study.

J.D. Power compiled its 2010 Initial Quality Study by surveying 82,000 buyers and lessees of new, 2010 model-year vehicles, asking them what problems they've had with their cars. The study was conducted from February to May of this year, and cars were scored based on how many problems were reported per 100 vehicles. The industry average score this year is 109, up slightly from 108 last year.

In our list of highest-quality cars we include only those cars that earned the very highest marks for quality.

Among American manufacturers, Ford performed particularly well in 2010: Twelve of the company's cars ranked within the top three in their segments, more than any other car company. And the $22,145 Mustang coupe, $25,170 Taurus sedan, and $16,290 Focus compact car all make our list of the year's highest-quality cars.

One reason for Ford's strong showing? Defect-free new launches. The redesigned Mustang and Taurus each won their respective segments in their first year out of the box. Other manufacturers also put out reliable new models: Lexus' $65,380 LS 460 and $54,070 GS both make our list, and the $51,970 Lexus GX 460 SUV won its segment. Even though Porsche's first-ever sedan, the $74,400 Panamera, didn't win its segment, it received notably high initial quality scores as well.

These initial quality scores--measured after 90 days of ownership--are significant because new models often have many more quality problems than carryover models. That's one reason why the Lexus LS has consistently been rated as the one vehicle with the absolute least amount of complaints lodged against it.

"When Lexus launched in 1990, they pretty much came in at No. 1 in the industry," says Dave Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power. "The LS wasn't their only car they sold back then, but it was certainly their main vehicle."

Designing better cars in general is the first step to reducing defects, says Ford Quality communications manager Kristen Kinley, but streamlining the manufacturing process--as Ford has done in recent years, and as it's currently doing with the all-new Fiesta--has helped as well.

"The Fiestas that we're building in Europe and the ones that we're building in Mexico follow the exact identical standards, and that reduced complexity in the system has helped improve quality," she says.

The most notorious problem reported by new-car buyers? Excessive wind noise, according to Sargent. It's an admittedly subjective problem, but the "excessive" label means the noise must be unexpected and unwelcome: "If you're driving around in a 911 with the roof down, you're going to hear wind noise, but you're going to expect it."

Ultimately, even though it can sometimes be remedied by reapplying seals or readjusting doors, that extraneous noise signifies a design flaw, Sargent says.

That's precisely why Porsche and Ford shone in this year's report: Along with the Hyundai Azera, the Porsche 911 received no complaints of excessive wind noise. The Ford Fusion was among the top five vehicles with the fewest such complaints.

Top Five Highest-Quality Cars Of 2010
Ford Focus

Segment: Compact Car

Ford Nameplate Score: 93 problems per 100 vehicles

MSRP: $16,290
Ford Mustang

Segment: Midsize Sporty Car

Ford Nameplate Score: 93 problems per 100 vehicles

MSRP: $22,145
Ford Taurus

Segment: Large Car

Ford Nameplate Score: 93 problems per 100 vehicles

MSRP: $25,170
Hyundai Accent

Segment: Sub-Compact

Hyundai Nameplate Score: 102 problems per 100 vehicles

MSRP: $9,970
Honda Accord

Segment: Midsize Car

Honda Nameplate Score: 95 problems per 100 vehicles

MSRP: $21,055