Chrysler Corp. received its first-ever initial quality awards from J.D. Power and Associates last week.
The all-new 1998 Chrysler Concorde had the best initial quality score in the premium mid-sized car category. The 1998 Chrysler Cirrus was best in the mid-sized car category.
Chrysler's rankings are part of J.D. Power's 1998 Initial Quality Study 2, so dubbed because it was revamped for the first time in its 10-year history.
For the fifth time in six years, the Lexus LS 400 was tops in the premium luxury-car category. The 1998 Lexus ES 300 was best in the entry-luxury category.
Honda Division had the most initial quality awards, finishing best in three categories.
J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study is closely monitored by automakers, which use it to measure customer satisfaction.
Chance Parker, J.D. Power's director of product research, said the survey was changed to reflect the additional equipment, standard and optional, that has been added to vehicles during the last decade.
Parker said that antilock brakes, airbags, remote keyless entry and even cupholders can be problematic. The new survey has 135 questions compared to 89 on the old form.
The result of the additional questions is that the industry's average of things gone wrong per 100 vehicles more than doubled to 176 this year. But Parker cautioned that the higher average does not mean that quality deteriorated during the past year.
Using the old form, Parker said the industry average on things gone wrong per 100 vehicles matched last year's 86.
The survey is based on the responses of 58,000 car buyers about problems they had during their first three months of ownership of 1998 models.