Ford MustangClick to enlarge picture

Vehicles from Ford Motor Company, including this Mustang, ranked highest in more segments than any other car company in the latest Initial Quality Survey.

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services firm.

The IQS, which measures new vehicle quality after 90 days of ownership, captures problems reported by owners in two distinct categories—quality of design and quality of production. J.D. Power and Associates reports that over the past 20 years the automotive industry has improved in quality at the rate of 6 percent per year on average. The company also finds that the automotive industry has reduced problem counts by 50 percent every 7 to 8 years.

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"The 2007 IQS results contain some encouraging and positive news for Ford Motor Company," said Neal Oddes, director of product research and analysis at J.D. Power and Associates. "Fourteen Ford Motor Company models place in the top three of their respective segments—an achievement unmatched by any other corporation this year—which is a testament to the improvement in quality for Ford Motor Company vehicle models and plants."

Top-scoring vehicles from Ford Motor Company included the Ford Mustang, Lincoln Mark LT, Lincoln MKZ, Mercury Milan and the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Additional good news for Ford: the Lincoln brand has moved from last year's 12th place overall up to 3rd place for 2007.

Photo Gallery: 2007 Initial Quality Winners

Toyota fielded four top winners for quality in the 2007 survey, all of which were trucks. These included the Toyota Tacoma, Toyota Sequoia, Toyota 4Runner and the Lexus RX 350/RX 400h. Both General Motors and Mercedes-Benz had three vehicles each that ranked at the top of their segments.

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class tied with the Audi A8 for having the fewest quality problems in the industry, with just 72 problems per 100 vehicles. "Mercedes-Benz shows dramatic improvement, particularly with its newly-redesigned S-Class, which improves 63 PP100," said Oddes. "Overall, Mercedes-Benz improves its nameplate rank by 20 positions-the greatest rank increase of any nameplate in the study. All Mercedes-Benz models in the study improved substantially, and the breadth and speed of these improvements demonstrates the Mercedes-Benz commitment to quality."

However, it was Porsche that took top honors for all nameplates for the second year in a row, matching last year's average of 91 problems reported per 100 vehicles. Lexus was second, followed by Lincoln, Honda and Mercedes-Benz.

Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Saab showed the most improvement since 2006. However, while Land Rover vehicles improved by 34 PP100, the brand still remains last with the most problems per 100 vehicles. Among non-premium brands, Kia saw the largest improvement in position, moving from 24th to 12th since 2006.

The study also found that newly introduced or completely redesigned models often have more problems than established models. "Ideally, manufacturers should aim to achieve high initial quality when launching a new model, since this builds a strong foundation for future years and can become a differentiating factor relative to the competition, "said Oddes. "One year after launch, initial quality begins to improve by an average of 7 PP100. If a model launches with lower initial quality, it is more difficult for the manufacturer to keep pace with the competition over time."

The 2007 Initial Quality Survey featured a list of 228 questions that were asked of 97,000 purchasers and lessees of 2007 model year cars and trucks. The survey questions are asked following 90 days of ownership.

Here are the specific segment leaders for the 2007 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Survey. These segment leaders do not reflect the opinions of the MSN Autos editorial team.

Note that vehicle(s) in first position are overall winners; vehicles on subsequent lines of each segment are second- and third-place finishers.

Segment Vehicle
Sub-Compact Car Kia Rio/Rio5
Honda Fit
Hyundai Accent
Compact Car Honda Civic
Toyota Corolla
Hyundai Elantra
Compact Sporty Car Mazda MX-5 Miata
Scion tC
Subaru Impreza
Compact Premium Sporty Car Porsche Boxster
Mercedes-Benz CLK
Mercedes-Benz SLK
Entry Premium Car Lincoln MKZ
Acura TSX
Cadillac CTS
Midsize Premium Car Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Lexus GS/Lexus GS 450h
Infiniti M (tie)
Volvo S80 (tie)
Large Premium Car Mercedes-Benz S-Class (tie)
Audi A8 (tie)
Lexus LS 460
Premium Sporty Car Mercedes-Benz SL-Class
Porsche 911
Lexus SC 430
Midsize Sporty Car Ford Mustang
Toyota Camry Solara
Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Midsize Car Mercury Milan
Honda Accord
Ford Fusion (tie)
Mitsubishi Galant (tie)
Large Car Pontiac Grand Prix
Toyota Avalon
Ford Five Hundred (tie)
Mercury Montego (tie)
Compact Multi-Activity Vehicle Honda CR-V
Nissan Xterra
Hyundai Tucson
Midsize Multi-Activity Vehicle Toyota 4Runner
Toyota Highlander
Mercury Mountaineer
Large Multi-Activity Vehicle Toyota Sequoia
Chevrolet Suburban
GMC Yukon
Midsize Premium Multi-Activity Vehicle Lexus RX 350/Lexus RX 400h
Lexus GX 470
Lincoln MKX
Large Premium Multi-Activity Vehicle Lincoln Mark LT
Lincoln Navigator
Hummer H2
Large Pickup Chevrolet Silverado Classic 2500HD
Ford F-150
GMC Sierra 1500
Midsize Pickup Toyota Tacoma
Honda Ridgeline (tie)
Dodge Dakota (tie)
Van Chevrolet Express
Kia Sedona
Ford E-Series

Source: J.D. Power and Associates

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