Fiat Chrysler Takes Top Honors in “Total Quality” Study

Charger, Challenger, Durango help push FCA to top spot.

by on Jul.17, 2015

The 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth edition.

Quality isn’t always measured the same way, or so one might surmise from the results of the latest annual Total Quality Index that puts Fiat Chrysler in the industry lead.

The trans-Atlantic automaker was the top manufacturer for the first time since the study was launched in 1995, according to California automotive research firm Strategic Vision, and FCA products ranked at the top of the class in six of 27 individual vehicle categories.

Best of the Best!

The results come in sharp contrast to the findings of other recent surveys, such as the widely followed J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, where FCA was one of the bottom-ranked makers overall – Fiat the last among 33 brands and Chrysler ranked at 31st.

Officials at Strategic Vision counter that “counting problems” is no longer an effective way to measure quality, pointing out that even the worst brand is likely to experience just over one such complaint per vehicle.

“In 1997, only 15% of all car brands had less than a half-a-problem per vehicle, with a few ‘delinquent’ brands having more than two problems per vehicle. In 2015, 100% of all brands had less than half-a-problem on average per vehicle,” said SV President Alexander Edwards, adding that for the typical owner, a lot of other things influence the perception of quality.

The Cadillac Escalade was winner in Strategic Vision's Total Quality Index for luxury SUVs.

The Total Quality Index, or TQI, takes into account 155 different aspects of an owner’s experience, according to the research firm, including impressions about design, performance and features. It comes down to “love for the product,” suggested SV Senior Vice President Chris Chaney.

By that measure, FCA came out on top, with a score of 859 out of a possible 1,000 points. It was followed closely behind in a tie by Volkswagen and General Motors, each scoring 858.

“It’s hard to not be in admiration of the turn-around achieved by FCA (Chrysler) company employees,” wrote Chaney, in a summary of the 2015 TQI.

(Korean brands score big again in vehicle satisfaction awards. For more, Click Here.)

With only a handful of models, the Fiat brand landed two segment winners with its little 500 and 500e battery-car. On the American side of the company, the Dodge Durango, Charger and Challenger models took honors, along with Jeep Wrangler. The Ram division, meanwhile, was tops among non-luxury brands.

BMW's X5 captured the luxury CUV segment category, helping BMW to a second-place finish in Strategic Vision's Total Quality Index.

The Mini Cooper Roadster, however, was the single-highest scoring vehicle among the hundreds of models included in the study. Mini and parent BMW also had six segment winners, the Bavarian brand taking honors for, among others, the new i3 electric city car and its big X5 utility vehicle.

(Click Here to see the 10 best and worst cities in which to be a driver.)

There were some other surprises in the 2015 TQI, including the fact that the slow-selling Nissan Titan took honors as top full-size pickup truck.

The new Chevrolet Colorado, meanwhile, bested established players such as the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier in the compact pickup segment.

(Japanese makers slide, Koreans surge in latest JD Power IQS. Click Here for more.)

Land Rover, another maker that typically lags industry average when purely counting problems, was named the best luxury brand in the new study.

Here’s a complete rundown of the winners:

  • Small Car: Mazda Mazda 3, 873 points
  • Small Multi-Function Car: Fiat 500, 867
  • Small Alternate Powertrain Car (APT): Fiat 500e, 856
  • Midsize Car: Subaru WRX/Kia Optima, 869/868
  • Midsize APT Car: Honda Accord Hybrid Sedan, 853
  • Full-Size Car: Dodge Charger, 902
  • Near-Luxury Car: Mercedes-Benz CLA/Lincoln MKZ, 892/891
  • Near-Luxury APT Car: BMW i3, 879
  • Luxury Car: Mercedes-Benz S-Class, 910
  • Luxury Multi-Function Car: BMW 3-Series Wagon, 908
  • Specialty Coupe: Dodge Challenger/Mini Cooper Countryman, 895/893
  • Premium Coupe: Hyundai Genesis Coupe, 919
  • Standard Convertible: Mini Cooper Roadster, 935
  • Premium Convertible/Roadster: Chevrolet Corvette Convertible, 929
  • Standard Pickup: Chevrolet Colorado, 857
  • Full-Size Pickup: Nissan Titan, 879
  • Heavy Duty Pickup: GMC Sierr 2500/3500, 864
  • Entry SUV: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, 869
  • Entry CUV: Buick Encore/Volkswagen Tiguan, 858/858
  • Midsize SUV: Dodge Durango, 876
  • Midsize CUV: Nissan Murano/Ford Flex, 865/864
  • Full-Size Utility: GMC Yukon XL, 892
  • Near-Luxury Utility: BMW X4, 896
  • Luxury SUV: Cadillac Escalade/Range Rover Sport, 909/907
  • Luxury CUV: BMW X5, 885
  • Minivan: Honda Odyssey, 852
  • Best Model: Mini Cooper, 935
  • Best Brand, Non-Luxury: Ram, 865
  • Best Brand, Luxury: Land Rover, 894

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9 Responses to “Fiat Chrysler Takes Top Honors in “Total Quality” Study”

  1. Jorge says:

    There are lies, damn lies and statistics…

    • Chris Holman says:

      I know you are quite correct JDP and CR have been in bed with the Japs and Korean’s for years and it is time the truth comes out the foreign outfits are not a bit better than the American companies and finally the truth!

  2. Pat Morrissey says:

    Chrysler/Fiat article–Must be mularky, or an article from the ‘Onion’ Now I have lost faith in your articles……..

    • Paul A. Eisenstein says:

      Pat,

      For what it’s worth, read some of the skeptical comments about GM’s strong showing in recent Power and other studies. I have to say I am skeptical, too, and you will see how I put this report in context with the JD Power IQS results. On the other hand, it would be as inappropriate for me to say, “nah, BS,” as it would have been the first time GM did well.

      That said, we both know that there IS a difference between TGW and TGR, and it goes beyond that. I know people absolutely passionate about products that have really mediocre quality and if they were the sample set in a study like TQI they would have given a rave score to the likes of a Dodge Charger. FYI, I have a piece trying to put the conflicts into perspective. It’s my latest NBC column and we will run a version here next week.

      Paul E.

  3. Jorge says:

    See comment #1 above for reality. LOL

  4. SigitySym says:

    Wow, yeah, we would love to be able to say our Chrysler Jeep had only one issue or half an issue but the vehicle has been a bumper to bumper disappointment with many problems and no help from Chrysler.

  5. Chuck G. says:

    When you make up criteria to make judgement, then change the definition of the word quality, you end up with the list of cars picked here. If you had called it satisfaction (with a vehicle), okay maybe, but quality does a disservice to the word for many of the cases sighted here.

  6. I’ve owned two Chrysler and one GM auto over the years. A 1967 Plymouth Fury, a 1982 Corvette and a 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser Turbo. All three cars were exceptionally trouble free. I had one problem with each. The 1967 Fury was several years old and had a voltage regulator that failed. The PT Cruiser, going on year three had a bad rear window switch fixed under guarantee and the Corvette had a seat mount that broke. The vehicles were fixed either inexpensively or under guarantee and were very inexpensive to maintain. The other side of the coin are the foreign auto’s I’ve owned and the expensive maintenance they’ve required. Brakes for my Mercedes AMG over $2000. Mercedes seemed to be riding a little low. Service phoned me and advised me that it required new transmission and engine mounts, $1000! I had a ’82 BMW that required brakes very frequently and seemed to lose its rubber muffler connectors every few weeks. I had a ’75 280Z that required frequent attention to keep the motor running smoothly. And, to the tune of $1000 had it’s black box go bad. I’m going to seriously look at American auto’s going forward. I’ve ridden in many and their owner’s tell me they’ve been trouble free including the Jeep, Chevy Corvette, Chrysler 300, Caddy and Buick. Now if there was a comfortable four seat American convertible to consider I’d be a happy camper.

    • Paul A. Eisenstein says:

      I agree. I’d love more domestic convertibles. At least Buick is adding one.

      Paul E.

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