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2014 Initial Quality Study: Greatest Improvements, Steepest Declines among All Problems

2014 Initial Quality Study: Greatest Improvements, Steepest Declines among All Problems

By Jeff Youngs, June 26, 2014

The way new-vehicle buyers perceive quality has changed, and as a result, J.D. Power has changed how it measures the quality of new vehicles, redesigning its annual Initial Quality Study (IQS) to better reflect how technology impacts customer satisfaction. In the second year of the latest version of the IQS, there is a decided decline in new-vehicle quality, one rooted primarily in owner dissatisfaction with technology.

According to the results of the 2014 IQS, the steepest decline in satisfaction is related to built-in voice-recognition systems that don't recognize or that misinterpret commands. At the same time, however, the greatest improvement in any measured attribute is related to pairing and connecting mobile phones and devices to a vehicle's built-in Bluetooth system. While trouble with Bluetooth remains a significant problem overall, as an individual issue it has improved the most in the 2014 IQS.

Generally, new-vehicle owners cite problems with their vehicle's Audio/Communication/Entertainment/Navigation (ACEN) systems at greater rates than any other category.

Vehicle Attributes Showing Steepest Declines
Beyond reported trouble with voice-recognition systems, rough shifting from automatic transmissions and radios that demonstrate poor and/or no reception tie for producing the second-steepest decline in satisfaction.

In this year's IQS, cold winter weather resulted in an increase in related complaints, including vehicle heating systems unable to achieve and/or maintain a desired temperature, as well as windows that fog up easily and/or don't clear quickly. Many vehicle owners also experienced problems with tire-pressure monitoring systems that did not work properly, as well as with doors that were hard to open and close, each of which could be related to extremely cold weather.

Additional areas showing notable increases in the number of complaints compared with the 2013 IQS include:
  • Location and use of the clock
  • Media device ports that are difficult to use and/or poorly located
  • Paint imperfections
  • Automatic transmission shifts roughly

Vehicle Attributes Showing Greatest Improvements
In addition to the improvement in pairing devices to and using built-in Bluetooth systems, the ease of using cupholders has also improved from last year, coming in as the second-most improved area.

Additional areas showing notable improvements include:
  • Fuel economy
  • Parking assist and reversing camera systems
  • Tilt/Telescopic steering wheel operation
  • Accuracy and operation of the clock

Additional Research:

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