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The Best Automaker in Initial Quality is a Big Surprise

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For the first time in 27 years, the leader in the JD Power Initial Quality Study is a non-premium brand. 

Kia, tops the list this year, with the Korean brand scoring the highest overall with 83 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), followed closely by Porsche with 84 PP100. Kia was the best non-premium brand in 2015 and now it has moved on to score highest of all car brands. Hyundai (92 PP100), Toyota (93 PP100) and BMW (94 PP100) round out the top five.

This information is based on a 233-question survey that 80,000 new car buyers are given, asking them to identify problems experienced in the first 90 days of ownership, with a lower numerical score representing higher quality.

At the very bottom of the list this year is Smart (216 PP100). The small car brand traded the second-last position for the bottom with Fiat (174 PP100), which had a worse score than it did last year but was saved from being last by the poor performance of Smart. Volvo (152 PP100), Land Rover (132 PP100) and MINI (127 PP100) round out the bottom five on the list.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Most Dependable Cars of 2016: J.D. Power

The most improved award is a tie between the Chrysler and Jeep brands, both of which improved by 28 PP100 this year. American automakers in general performed well, with J.D. Power saying that for the first time in 30 years, the Detroit three achieved a combined average of less that than the combined average of import brands. The entire industry is also up, with new vehicle quality improving by six percent year-over-year.

In a theme demonstrated by Kia, this is also the first time since 2006 that non-premium brands have fewer issues that premium brands.

In the individual vehicle category, GM scooped up seven top awards, Toyota took six while Hyundai and Volkswagen both took four each.

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