Photo Gallery: 30 Years of Top-Rated Cars in Initial Quality

Photo Gallery: 30 Years of Top-Rated Cars in Initial Quality

By Christian Wardlaw, June 05, 2017
  • 2017 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS) trophy graphic

    For 30 years, the J.D. Power U.S. Initial Quality StudySM (IQS) has served as an automotive industry benchmark measuring new-vehicle quality. The study documents the problems that new-vehicle owners experience during the first 90 days of ownership and, based on a problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) metric, ranks the cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans in a variety of vehicle segments.

    The 2017 study marks the 30th anniversary of the IQS. In this gallery, we take a look back at 30 years of the top-rated models (those with the lowest overall PP100 score), starting with the inaugural 1987 study. The 11 models that have earned this distinction are displayed in chronological order, from oldest to newest.



  • 1990 Toyota Cressida photo

    Toyota Cressida (1987-1988, 1990)

    The Cressida was Toyota’s flagship sedan, larger and more opulent than the popular Camry. It featured an inline 6-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive. Built in Japan, the Cressida was called the Mark II in other parts of the world. It was phased out after the 1992 model year, eventually replaced by the Toyota Avalon.

  • 1989 Nissan Maxima photo

    Nissan Maxima (1989)

    The Maxima was Nissan’s flagship sedan, larger and sportier than the popular Altima. Redesigned for 1989, the third-generation Maxima was far more sophisticated than the model it replaced and adopted what became the well-known “4-door sports car” marketing tagline despite a switch from rear-wheel to front-wheel drive. The Maxima was built in Japan.

  • 2015 Lexus LS 460 photo

    Lexus LS (1991-94, 1997-2003, 2006, 2010-2011, 2013, 2015)

    Lexus debuted as Toyota’s luxury brand for 1990, and the LS has served as the company’s flagship sedan since that time. Over the 30-year history of the IQS, the Lexus LS has achieved the lowest overall PP100 score in half of those years. Since it first rolled off of a dedicated assembly line in Japan, the Lexus LS has been produced at the same location.

  • 1995 Honda Prelude photo

    Honda Prelude (1995, tie)

    The Prelude was Honda’s sports coupe, featuring front-wheel drive and a 4-cylinder engine. This fifth-generation model represented a dramatic styling departure from previous Preludes, but the car remained as innovative as ever. In 1995, the Japan-built Prelude shared the top IQS PP100 score with the Infiniti J30.

  • 1995 Infiniti J30 photo

    Infiniti J30 (1995, tie)

    Strikingly styled using soft, organic forms, the Infiniti J30 was a rear-drive luxury sedan equipped with a V-6 engine. It had replaced the M30, one of two Infiniti models that debuted with Nissan’s new luxury brand in 1990, and was ultimately replaced by the Maxima-based I30. Infiniti built the J30 in Japan, and the 1995 model shared the top IQS PP100 score with the Honda Prelude.

  • 2005 Lexus SC photo

    Lexus SC (1996, 2004-2005)

    A 4-seat, rear-drive sports coupe, the original Lexus SC was dramatically styled for its time and came with an inline 6-cylinder or V-8 engine. The second-generation SC came only with a V-8 engine and a power-retractable hardtop, wrapped in a design that looked like nothing else on the road. The Japan-sourced Lexus SC was discontinued after the 2010 model year.

  • 2007 Audi A8 L photo

    Audi A8 (2007, tie)

    In 2007, for the first time, a German automaker produced the model with the lowest overall PP100 score. Audi’s flagship sedan, the A8, shared the highest honor with the flagship sedan from Mercedes-Benz, the S-Class. Despite its complexity and technological innovation, the Audi A8 pleased its owners, providing relatively problem-free ownership during the first 90 days. The car was built in Germany.

  • 2007 Mercedes-Benz S-Class photo

    Mercedes-Benz S-Class (2007, tie)

    Redesigned for 2007 and equipped with a range of new engines, the S-Class tied with the Audi A8 as the highest-quality model that year. Distinctive styling, improved performance, upgraded interior materials, and futuristic technology characterized the S-Class at this time, pleasing owners who chose one of the most expensive cars available in 2007.

  • 2016 Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS photo

    Porsche 911 (2008, 2012, 2016)

    Porsche has emerged as an initial quality leader during the past decade, with its products achieving top-quality status in four of the past 10 years. The 911 sports car kicked things off in 2008, followed by the completely redesigned “991” model that arrived in 2012. Built in Germany, the 911 came in a dizzying array of variations with a wide range of performance capabilities.

  • 2009 Lexus LX 570 photo

    Lexus LX (2009)

    Lexus built the only SUV to ever rate highest for initial quality in the study’s 30-year history. The 2009 Lexus LX was based on the rugged Toyota Land Cruiser, a large SUV sold all around the world, and one legendary for its combination of durability and capability. Softened for wealthy civilian use, the Lexus LX was built in Japan.

  • 2014 Porsche Panamera photo

    Porsche Panamera (2014)

    Equipped with 911-derived styling, the Porsche Panamera debuted in 2010, expanding the company’s lineup of performance cars. It seats 4 people and is equipped with a rear hatch providing access to the cargo area. Built in Germany, the Panamera offered a range of gasoline, diesel, and hybrid drivetrains with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.


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