2012 J.D. Power Initial Quality Award Winners – 8 Great Quality Vehicles
J.D. Power and Associates has announced its 2012 Initial Quality Study award winners, based on the results of its annual study in which it surveys tens of thousands of new car buyers about the quality of their new cars, trucks, and SUVs. In each of 21 categories, J.D. Power names an award winner for best quality, and this year’s crop of models includes several vehicles that are perfectly suited for people who love to drive and have kids to cart around.
Remember, Speedy Daddy is focused on models that can carry at least four people, are fun to drive, meet a minimum safety standard, and cost less than $60,000. For a complete list of all the award winners, visit JDPower.com.
2012 FORD MUSTANG
While it is a stretch to call a Ford Mustang a family car, this four-passenger coupe or convertible is certainly capable of carrying a couple of kids in its back seat and it is definitely fun to drive. The 305-horsepower Mustang V6 Coupe with the Performance Package is our favorite because it’s the least expensive to insure, the most fuel efficient, and comes with a 3.31 rear axle ratio, a strut-tower brace, bigger front and rear sway bars, more powerful brakes, and 19-inch wheels with 255/40 summer performance tires. We also love the Mustang GT, for nothing on the road sounds quite as good as it does. Then there’s the Boss 302, or the muscular Shelby GT500. Just keep in mind that the Mustang Convertible models get better side-impact scores according to the IIHS.
2012 FORD TAURUS SHO
Ford’s twin-turbocharged, all-wheel-drive, full-size family sedan, the Taurus SHO, is a bigger blast to drive than you might think. What else has an enormous trunk, a giant back seat, snow-beating AWD, a twin-turbo V6 impervious to altitude, and a slew of luxury and high-tech features for such a reasonable price? Add a 4-Star overall crash-test rating from the NHTSA and a “Top Safety Pick” rating from the IIHS, and the Super High Output version of the Taurus makes for a high-quality family sport sedan.
2012 INFINITI EX35
The Hunchback from Tochigi, the Infiniti EX35, is a five-door hatchback built on the Infiniti G Sedan’s front-midship, rear-drive platform, and marketed as a crossover SUV. Tight cargo room precludes the Infiniti EX from serving well in that role, but since it features a strong 297-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, rear-wheel-drive, and is available with a Deluxe Touring Package with a terrific looking set of 19-inch split-spoke wheels with 245/45 all-season performance tires, we’ll cut what is essentially a G37 station wagon some slack. Add a “Top Safety Pick” rating and optional AWD, and the EX might just serve your family well despite its meager 18.6 cu.-ft. cargo volume measurement behind the rear seats.
2012 INFINITI M37
Do yourself a favor and skip the Infiniti M37’s optional Technology Package, even though it contains a whole bunch of high-tech safety features. For the most part, they’ll aggravate any driver who possesses a modicum of talent. Do, however, spec your new 330-horsepower M37 with the Premium, Sport, and Sport Touring Packages, and you’ll park a satisfying and high-quality luxury sport sedan with a “Top Safety Pick” rating in your driveway.
2012 KIA SOUL !
Sometimes fun isn’t about going fast, and there are few entry-level cars that match the jaunty Kia Soul for personality or, evidently, quality. Our recommendation here is the Kia Soul ! (pronounced “exclaim”), which has the bigger 164-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and 18-inch aluminum wheels with 235/45 all-season performance tires. That kind of footprint on such a small vehicle is sure to lead to a few giggles, and the Soul ! can be equipped with navigation, leather, automatic climate control, and keyless entry with push-button ignition – rarities for inexpensive vehicles. If you’re buying one to transport children, know that the Soul is a “Top Safety Pick” according to the IIHS.
2012 NISSAN FRONTIER PRO-4X CREW CAB
Now that Nissan’s only serious competition in the not-a-full-size pickup category is the Toyota Tacoma, this J.D. Power Initial Quality award could prove to be a timely way for Nissan to build market share, especially since the Frontier has also won the research firm’s Vehicle Dependability award. The Frontier is an older truck, but is aging gracefully, and gets decent if not leading crash-test scores. The fun one for families is the PRO-4X model, a four-wheeler equipped with 16-inch aluminum wheels wearing 265/75 BF Goodrich Rugged Trail T/A tires, Bilstein off-road performance shocks, an electronic locking rear differential, and skid plates.
2012 TOYOTA YARIS SE
Yeah, we know this one is a stretch, just like the Kia Soul. But in addition to sporty fog lights, the Yaris SE is equipped with fancier styling, 16-inch aluminum wheels, P195/50 tires, a sport-tuned suspension and quicker steering. So while its 106-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual gearbox (a four-speed automatic is optional) are the same as any other Yaris, at least you’ll be able to fling it around a corner faster. Theoretically. The Yaris is also a “Top Safety Pick” according to the IIHS, so it should protect occupants in a crash – with another flyweight subcompact, anyway.
2012 VOLVO C70 T5
What does it mean for a vehicle to be fun to drive? Does it need to be fast? Must it be a serious off-roader? Or is it enough to simply have a power retractable hardtop, four comfortable seats, and a turbocharged five-cylinder engine good for up to 250 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque available from 1,500 to 3,000 rpm? Having enjoyed the Volvo C70 first-hand on a terrific trip up the Pacific Coast Highway from Cambria to Carmel, we’re inclined to say yes, that’s enough. And that’s exactly what the Volvo C70 Inscription model delivers, combined with impressive crash-test performance in frontal-, side-, and rear-impact assessments.
– Christian Wardlaw
Category: 8 Great, Awards, Car Lists, Car News, Car Ratings, Ford, Industry, Infiniti, Kia, Nissan, Toyota, Volvo · Tags: 2012 Ford Mustang quality ratings, 2012 Ford Taurus quality ratings, 2012 Infiniti EX quality ratings, 2012 Infiniti M quality ratings, 2012 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study, 2012 JD Power Initial Quality Study awards and winners, 2012 JD Power IQS, 2012 Kia Soul quality ratings, 2012 Nissan Frontier quality ratings, 2012 Toyota Yaris quality ratings, 2012 Volvo C70 quality ratings