International luxury brands continued to dominate J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study for China this year. Lexus earned the top ranking with only 54 problems reported per 100 vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz, BMW AG and Audi AG ranked second, third and fourth.
Honda Motor Co. was the highest ranked mass-market automaker. Its joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Corp. placed fifth.
No Chinese brands exceeded the industry average, according to the survey, which is now in its 13th year.
J.D. Power polled 20,639 owners of new vehicles purchased between October 2011 and June 2012. The owners were asked to note both defects and design-related problems.
Each brand's quality score was determined by the number of problems reported per 100 vehicles.
The number of problems in Chinese domestic cars fell to 212 this year from 232 a year earlier. But that was still well above the industry average of 146.
By contrast, global brands such as Buick, Toyota and BMW averaged 117 problems, down from 131 a year ago.
Domestic automakers like Geely and Great Wall have been working to upgrade technology, reduce defects and improve fit-and-finish. While the survey suggests they have made progress, they have not yet matched the quality of foreign brands.
The Wuling Honguang, a low-priced microvan built by GM's joint venture with SAIC Motors and the government of Liuzhou city, was the only domestic model to top its product segment.
Below is a list of the top-ranked models for the 10 segments covered by J.D. Power's survey:
Compact: Suzuki Alto
Premium Compact: Chevrolet Sail
Entry Midsize: Kia K2
Midsize: Honda Civic
Lower Premium Midsize: Hyundai Moinca
Upper Premium Midsize: Hyundai Sonata
Luxury: BMW 7 Series
SUV: Toyota RAV4
MPV: Buick GL8
Minivan: Wuling Hongguang
Reuters contributed to this story