DETROIT -- Porsche slipped to second place behind Lexus in J.D. Power and Associates' annual ranking of initial quality in the United States, according to results released Monday. For three years straight the German automaker held the coveted No. 1 spot in the market research firm's influential study.
Despite reducing its number of problems per 100 vehicles to 101 from 104 last year, Mercedes-Benz fell from fourth to a tie for sixth with Toyota.
Ford and Chevrolet ranked virtually even with Mercedes and Toyota in the benchmark survey.
Ford improved to 102 problems per 100 vehicles and Chevrolet to 103. That put all four brands in the same league in the United States when it comes to customer complaints during the first 90 days of ownership.
There is no statistical difference between a 101 and a 102 or, for that matter, between a 101 and a 103, said David Sargent, J.D. Power's vice president of automotive research, in a presentation to the Automotive Press Association.
Overall industry quality improved to its best level in the studys 23 years. That average was 108 reported problems per 100 vehicles, down from 118 in 2008.
Mercedes' German rivals BMW and Audi were both below the industry average.
Owners of U.S. brands recorded an average of 112 problems per 100 vehicles. A year earlier, the U.S. automakers had 124 reported problems, or six more than the average.
The study ranked 37 brands based on problems detected in the first 90 days of ownership of 2009 model-year vehicles.