LOS ANGELES -- Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. rebounded in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, with Lexus Division again winning the highest-quality brand honors, and Toyota Division finishing well above the industry average.
The Toyota brand finished third -- trailing Honda and Mazda -- among the only three mass-market brands to score above average.
Last year's unintended acceleration recall may have spurred Toyota buyers to be more critical of their vehicles, regardless of any quality change, said Dave Sargent, J.D. Power vice president of global vehicle research.
As a result, Toyota's resurgence likely had more to do with a shift in consumer attitudes than the automaker suddenly remembering how to build vehicles, Sargent said.
Also, Toyota reduced the number of recalls as the year progressed. And while some other automakers had problems with product launches, Toyota introduced few new products. Toyota also did not make a big push in connectivity technology.
But next year's survey may reverse that trend for Toyota. The company has several major product redesigns coming this fall, as well as the launch of the Entune connected-car technology.
Although the Toyota brand had no segment quality winners, Toyota products finished in the top three in three segments, while Lexus products were scattered through the top rankings.
The Scion brand finished well below average, mostly due to buyers' unfamiliarity with new features on the redesigned tC coupe, Toyota said.