Travails of Toyota: How does quality compare with other auto makers?


Auto Mechanic
ow accurate is the image that Toyota makes the highest quality autos? Toyota’s record-setting recall made me wonder about the Japanese automaker’s quality ratings.

Lexus—Toyota’s luxury model—earned the highest marks for quality, according to J. D. Power and Associates 2009 initial quality study. This translates into 84 problems per 100 autos. Initial quality is a good indicator of long-term reliability.


Porsche ranks second, with 90 problems per 100 autos. The German sports car maker is followed by Cadillac. Each had fewer than 100 problems per 100 cars made.

Toyota is in 7th place, with Ford and Chevrolet taking the next two spots. The difference between Ford and Toyota is tiny—101 problems per 100 autos, compared with 102. Chevrolet has 103.

American car makers are closing the gap when it comes to quality—despite the bankruptcies, reorganizations, and bailouts. Ford, GM, and Chrysler improved their quality ratings by 10% between 2008 and 2009—higher than the average rate of improvement for the industry as a whole.

“Even in the face of unprecedented challenges, the Detroit automakers are keeping their focus on designing and building high-quality vehicles, which is a precondition for long-term success,” says a J.D. Power and Associates vice president in the report. “High quality generally translates into reduced re-engineering costs and lower warranty expenses during a vehicle’s life cycle. High quality also enhances an automaker’s reputation for reliability, which is a critical purchase consideration for many consumers.”

Are you surprised by Toyota’s 7th place finish? How about the high ratings of American automakers?

Is the Detroit auto industry poised for a comeback?

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