Hell Freezes Over
Not really. But that’s sort of the sense that is out there as a result of the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Initial Quality Study, which shows, for the first time, that U.S. domestic brands have, on average, better initial quality than imports. Specifically, that the overall average for the domestics is 108 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) while the imports are at 109 PP100.
And it should be noted that the overall industry average also happens to be 109 PP100.
While Porsche is the best nameplate over all with 83 PP100, Land Rover is at the bottom, with a comparatively severe 170 PP100.
Ford, as you have probably heard by now—and if you haven’t you will, is at 93 PP100, which puts it in the #5 spot, behind Porsche, Acura (86 PP100), Mercedes (87 PP100), and Lexus (88 PP100). Honda is just behind Ford at 95 PP100.
If you average the Honda and Acura numbers you come up with an overall average of 90.5 PP100. If you average Ford, Lincoln (106 PP100) and Mercury (113 PP100), you come up with 104 PP100, so let’s hope that Ford doesn’t fall prey to the kind of “We Win!” thinking that caused the domestics to be behind the imports for the past 23 years (J.D. Power has been running the study for 24).
And while Toyota has plummeted to 117 PP100—if there is any surprise it is that it is that high, given all of the TGW (i.e., “Things Gone Wrong,” in quality-speak) during the past several months (the study in question surveyed owners or 2010 model year vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership)—if you average Lexus, Toyota and Scion (114 PP100), the number is 106 PP100, which is only a couple away for the average of the collective Ford brands.
To be sure, there should be deserved celebration in Dearborn. The Focus beats the Civic and Hyundai Elantra, which is no small feat. And the Taurus beats the Buick Lucerne and Nissan Maxima in its category. But the Accord Crosstour and the Honda Pilot beat the Ford Edge, and the Nissan Frontier beats the Ford Ranger. The Toyota plant in Canada where the Lexus RX is built beats the Ford plant in Mexico where the Fusion, Lincoln MKZ, and Mercury Milan are built.
So while Ford is solidly in the game, it has a ways to go before it can or should declare success.
Still, if you were to ask someone, say, three years ago, whether the Blue Oval would be kicking Toyota brand’s butt, you would undoubtedly have heard something about ice and the netherworld.