Cobalt improves initial quality score


Chevrolet Cobalt at the 2009 Cleveland Auto Show


In this Vindicator archive photo, Cobalts are seen on the assembly line at GM Lordstown.


Chevrolet unveiled its new Cruze to the press Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at the Paris Auto Show. Expected to get close to 40 miles-per-gallon, the Cruze will go on sale in Europe next March. Production for U.S. sales will begin in 2010.

The car finished ninth out of 20 compact cars in initial quality.

By Don Shilling

The Chevrolet Cobalt improved its initial quality score by J.D. Power and Associates, but expectations are even higher for the new model coming to the Lordstown car plant next year.

The Cobalt is ranked ninth out of 20 compact cars in the Power survey, which was released Monday.

“The quality is good, but it’s not segment-leading. There’s some tough competition in that segment,” said Dave Sargent, vice president for automotive research for California-based Power.

Jamie Hresko, General Motors vice president of quality, said he’s looking forward to an improvement when the Chevrolet Cruze replaces the Cobalt at Lordstown next year.

“When that plant gets the Cruze, they are going to have a great opportunity to build a winner,” he said.

He said the Cruze is being engineered so that it will be easier to build and the content inside the new car should be better.

Power listed the Cobalt as having 111 problems per hundred vehicles. In last year’s rankings, the Cobalt had a score of 119.

Power asks consumers to rate their cars in hundreds of areas after 90 days of ownership. The questions deal with design issues, such as locations of switches, and also with equipment function, which can be related to assembly-line issues.

Despite an improved score for the Cobalt, it dropped in Power’s rankings this year because of improvements by other vehicles. Last year, the Cobalt was ranked sixth, as compared to ninth this year.

The leader in the segment was the Hyundai Elantra at 80 problems per hundred vehicles. The runners-up were the Toyota Prius at 83 and Honda Civic at 91.

Hresko said he was pleased with GM’s overall performance this year, although the automaker will strive to improve.

As a brand, Cadillac was ranked third overall, just behind Lexus and Porsche. Cadillac had an average of 91 problems, compared with Lexus’ average of 84.

Chevrolet finished ninth in the brand rankings at 103, just behind Toyota at 101 and Ford at 102. Hresko noted that Power said that Chevrolet was statistically equivalent to Toyota in the rankings.

Chevrolet and Cadillac make up 70 percent of GM’s sales.

Overall, the initial quality of 2009 model year vehicles sold by the Detroit Three improved by an average of 10 percent from last year. Industrywide, scores improved an average of 8 percent.

“The Detroit automakers are keeping their focus on designing and building high-quality vehicles, which is a precondition for long-term success,” Sargent said.

XThe Associated Press contributed to this report.

The top performers in J.D. Power and Associates’ annual survey of initial quality for 2009 model year vehicles:

Subcompact car

Highest ranked: Toyota Yaris

Runners-up: Hyundai Accent, Honda Fit

Compact car

Highest ranked: Hyundai Elantra sedan

Runners-up: Toyota Prius, Honda Civic

Compact sporty car

Highest ranked: Scion tC

Runner-up: Volkswagen GTI

Compact premium sporty car

Highest ranked: Nissan Z

Runner-up: Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class

Entry premium car

Highest ranked: Lexus IS

Runners-up: Cadillac CTS, Infiniti G-Series

Midsize car

Highest ranked: Nissan Altima

Runners-up: Pontiac G6, Chevrolet Malibu

Midsize sporty car

Highest ranked: Ford Mustang

Runners-up: none

Midsize premium car

Highest ranked: Lexus GS

Runners-up: Acura RL, Lexus ES

Large car

Highest ranked: Mercury Sable

Runners-up: Toyota Avalon, Chevrolet Impala

Large premium car

Winners: Lexus LS

Runner-up: Mercedes Benz S-Class

Compact activity vehicle

Highest ranked: Chrysler PT Cruiser Wagon, Honda CR-V (tie)

Runner-up: Mitsubishi Outlander

Midsize activity vehicle

Highest ranked: Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Ford Edge, Toyota 4Runner (tie)

Runners-up: none

Midsize premium activity vehicle

Highest ranked: Lexus GX

Runners-up: Lexus RX, Cadillac SRX

Large activity vehicle

Highest ranked: GMC Yukon

Runners-up: Chevrolet Tahoe

Large premium activity vehicle

Highest ranked: Lexus LX

Runners-up: Cadillac Escalade, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class

Midsize pickup

Highest ranked: Honda Ridgeline

Runners-up: Nissan Frontier, Ford Ranger

Large pickup

Highest ranked: Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra (tie)

Runners-up: Chevrolet Avalanche


Highest ranked: Toyota Sienna

Runner-up: Honda Odyssey

Source: J.D. Power and Associates