2014 Audi Q5 TDI (© Audi of America)Click to enlarge picture

The Audi Q5 is one of three quality leaders produced by the German maker in this year's Total Quality Index from Strategic Vision.

With news of a record-setting number of recalls filling the eyes and ears of car and truck owners, finding out what brands produced the highest quality vehicles this year likely tops the list of information wanted by new vehicle buyers.

Strategic Vision released its 19th annual Total Quality Index winners today: Kia is the leader for non-luxury brands while Audi and Jaguar deadlocked for the luxury market.

"What we learn from this year's Total Quality results is the need for complete understanding of how buyers are influenced and it's not just by counting problems," says Alexander Edwards, President of Strategic Vision.

Following in the footsteps of its sister company, Hyundai, Kia posted significant quality improvements in recent years. The Soul captured the small multi-function car segment and Optima finished second in the mid-size car category by two points to the Subaru Impreza. Early indicators are that Kia should continue to expect success next year.

Strategic Vision's New Vehicle Experience Study data shows the Kia K900 as taking some sales from luxury brands. Audi and Jaguar topped the topped the luxury side of the equation taking different paths.

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Audi's exterior styling and interior appointments produced segment winners A5 Coupe, Q5 and Q7. Jaguar did not have a segment leader, but had several models ranked very high.

"We are honored to have been ranked one of the best luxury brands in 2014 by Strategic Vision," said Joe Eberhardt, president & CEO, Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC. "This recognition is a testament to the quality and performance of Jaguar vehicles as well as the renewed spirit and passion for the brand."

The score is a holistic measure of positive and negative product experiences, including reliability, actual problems, driving excitement and other measures that collectively are energized by the emotional response associated with the aggregate of all those experiences.

Mercedes posted the highest score — 957 — for any vehicle with its SL-Class in the Premium Convertible/Roadster. Other segment leaders included:

VolkswagenGolf
DodgeDart, Charger and Durango
JeepWrangler Unlimited
Ford / LincolnC-MAX Energi, Flex, F-150, Ford, Expedition and MKZ Hybrid
ChevroletVolt and Corvette
Toyota / LexusTundra, IS Sedan and GX 460
HondaAccord Crosstour and Ridgeline
MitsubishiLancer
HyundaiSonata Hybrid, Hyundai
MiniCountryman and Roadster
SmartForTwo Coupe
BMW6-Series Gran Coupe
VolvoXC70

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"All I can say to manufacturers is prepare to listen carefully to what car buyers are saying through these scores, be nimble and include 'True Innovation' that is bold and smart," says Christopher Chaney, Strategic Vision senior vice president.

"Tesla built a vehicle that generated love in attributes that were most important to segment buyers. Tesla isn't an electric vehicle that just has good features, but instead it's a luxurious sports sedan that has 'True Innovation,' as well as a rocket-like speed and drive feeling, that just happens to be an electric vehicle.

"I would call on all manufacturers looking toward electrification to implement a mantra of building super cool transportation that impresses the heck out of customers, and 'happens to be electric.' Very few people are looking for an overpriced electric breadbox/toaster with nothing cool. Consumers are powerful, have the Internet and know how to use calculators."