By Brent Snavely

Detroit Free Press


DETROIT — New vehicles sold by Chrysler, Ford and GM\’s domestic brands have improved in initial quality by an average of 10 percent compared with 2008, but Toyota Motor Corp. was the star of this year\’s study on initial quality from J.D. Power and Associates.

The study was released Monday at an Automotive Press Association luncheon at the Detroit Athletic Club.

Toyota\’s Lexus brand ranked first among all nameplates with 84 problems per 100 vehicles. Toyota also captured 10 segment awards — more than any other corporation in the 2009 study.

J.D. Power conducts its study by surveying more than 80,900 new car and truck buyers after they have owned their vehicle for 90 days.

This year\’s study was conducted between February and May — a time frame marked by the lowest industry sales volume in decades, plant shut downs and uncertainty about the future of Chrysler and GM as they lobbied for federal loans and braced for the possibility of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

\”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,\” David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates, said in a statement.

This year, GM\’s Cadillac brand is the highest ranked domestic nameplate with 91 problems per 100 vehicles. Cadillac is ranked third and moved up from 10th last year.

Ford Motor Co. received the second most segment awards of any automaker with top rankings for its redesigned F-150 pickup, Ford Mustang mid-size sports car, Ford Edge crossover and Mercury Sable full-size sedan.

\”We\’ve been able to deliver these results in probably one of the most difficult environments that I\’ve ever faced in my 30 years of being in the automotive industry,\” said Bennie Fowler, Ford\’s group vice president for global quality.

Scores for both Ford and Mercury increased compared with last year. However, the score for Ford\’s luxury Lincoln brand dropped to 129 problems per 100 vehicles, below the industry average of 108 problems per 100 vehicles.

Fowler said Lincoln scores are lagging behind the company\’s Ford and Mercury brand because customers and the company are adjusting to an increased level of new technology that is now available with the brand.

\”We know we\’ve got more work to do and we will do that,\” Fowler said.

Scores for all three of Chrysler Group LLC\’s nameplates showed improvement since last year, but remained well below the industry average.

Last year, Chrysler\’s Jeep brand finished last in J.D. Power\’s nameplate rankings. This year, Jeep\’s score improved to 137 problems per 100 vehicles compared with 167 last year and the brand is ranked 33rd out of 37.


(c) 2009, Detroit Free Press.

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