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Owners of new cars report more quality problems, partly because of technology extras

DETROIT — Owners of cars that were new or redesigned for the 2011 model year are reporting more quality problems, partly because of glitches with the navigation screens, voice-activated systems and other technology packed into their dashboards.

J.D. Power and Associates released its annual survey of new vehicle quality Thursday. Lexus, Honda and Acura were the top performers. Dodge was the worst-performing brand.

The survey questioned 78,000 people about problems they had with 2011 model-year vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership.

Owners reported an average of 107 problems per 100 vehicles. That jumped to 122 problems for cars that were new or redesigned for 2011, up 10 percent from 2010 model-year cars and trucks.

J.D. Power said new technology was partly to blame. Complaints about audio, entertainment and navigation systems are up 28 percent from 2009.

"Consumers are interested in having new technology in their vehicles, but automakers must ensure that the technology is ready for prime time," David Sargent, J.D. Power's vice president of global research, said in a statement.

New technology is responsible for Ford's declining quality. The brand dropped from fifth place in 2010 to 23rd this year.

Ford launched its My Ford Touch dashboard system on the Ford Edge and Ford Explorer crossovers in the 2011 model year. The system allows drivers to control climate, navigation, entertainment and other features by voice or through a touch screen.

Ford says 73 percent of owners with My Ford Touch say they're satisfied with the system. But the company acknowledges that My Ford Touch is complex and has been difficult for some buyers to use. Owners have also complained that the system takes a long time to boot up and has many glitches, including failing to recognize voice commands or properly link up with mobile phones.

The Toyota brand saw a big leap in quality, jumping 14 spots to seventh place. Toyota's 2010 rankings were hurt by a series of safety recalls. Also, Toyota introduced few new products for 2011, so it didn't experience the glitches other manufacturers did.

Toyota's Lexus luxury brand moved up three spots to take the lead in the survey from Porsche. Lexus had 73 problems per 100 vehicles. Dodge, the worst-performing brand overall, had 137 problems per 100 vehicles.

Honda was the best performer in segment-level awards. The Fit subcompact, Civic and Insight small cars, Accord midsize car, Element compact crossover, Crosstour midsize crossover and Ridgeline pickup were all the best performers in their segments.

Top choices

Here are the highest-ranked vehicles in J.D. Power and Associates' quality rankings of 2011 model year vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership in four of the biggest segments of the U.S. auto market:

Compact Cars: Honda Civic and Honda Insight hybrid (tie), Toyota Prius hybrid

Midsize Cars: Honda Accord, Subaru Legacy, Toyota Camry

Compact Crossover SUVs: Honda Element, Honda CR-V, Toyota FJ Cruiser

Full-size Pickup Trucks: Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra, Chevrolet Avalanche

>>Fast facts

Top choices

Here are the highest-ranked vehicles in J.D. Power and Associates' quality rankings of 2011 model-year vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership in four of the biggest segments of the U.S. auto market:

Compact cars: Honda Civic and Honda Insight hybrid (tie), Toyota Prius hybrid

Midsize cars: Honda Accord, Subaru Legacy, Toyota Camry

Compact Crossover SUVs: Honda Element, Honda CR-V, Toyota FJ Cruiser

Full-size Pickup Trucks: Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra, Chevrolet Avalanche

Owners of new cars report more quality problems, partly because of technology extras 06/23/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 23, 2011 11:11pm]
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