Kia, for the first time, tops J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study™ that ranks the quality of cars by looking at the number of problems experienced by owners in the first 90 days of ownership. Those who bought new Kia automobiles experienced fewer problems than owners of any other make studied.

The South Korean carmaker's top ranking Initial Quality Study™ has ended the 27-year reign of premium brands that usually capture the first rankings. Nameplates ranked below Kia in the J.D. Power study include Porsche, Lincoln, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. Kia ranked second in the 2015 study when it led all non-premium makes.

Specific Kia models ranked highly in measures of quality by segment; including the Kia Soul, which grabbed the top spot in the compact multi-purpose vehicle segment. The Kia Sportage bested all other cars in the small SUV segment and the Kia Sorento ranked second in the midsize SUV category. Not only that, the Kia Forte ranked among the best in the compact car segment and the Kia Rio was among the top three in the small car segment. 

About the Initial Quality Study

The J.D. Power Initial Quality Study™ measures quality based on more than 80,000 responses from people who bought or leased a 2016 model year car. From February to May 2016, 233-question surveys were conducted to review eight problem categories and give manufacturers a glimpse into a wide range of metrics that can be used to improve products.

The study judges initial quality by numerating problems owners encounter in eight categories: exterior, engine, features/controls/displays, audio/communication/entertainment/navigation, interior, seats and heating/ventilation/air-conditioning systems. These problems can be manufacturing defects or design-related issues.

Kia, in this achievement, is outpacing an industry that has made significant improvements in quality across the board in recent years, J.D. Power notes. One executive said cars being made today are some of the "highest quality products" the market research company as ever seen in 30 years of the study. 

Another aspect noted in the study is that initial quality generally translates into long-term reliability increases the likelihood that somebody returns to the same manufacturer when it's time to buy another vehicle. 

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