DETROIT– Ford took the top spot in five of 19 segments in initial quality rankings in a 2007 survey by J.D. Power and Associates released this week. Ford earned segment awards for the Ford Mustang, Lincoln Mark LT, Lincoln MKZ, Mercury Milan, and Mazda MX-5 Miata. Mazda is 33.4 percent owned by Ford.

Porsche again dominated the overall brand ranking , averaging 91 problems per 100 vehicles as it had last year. That compared with a 2007 industry average of 125 problems per 100 vehicles. Last year the average was 124, according to the Associate Press.

Toyota Motor Corp., which grabbed the top spot in 11 segments last year, captured only four this year — the 4Runner, Sequoia, Tacoma, and Lexus RX350/RX400h.

Ford’s Lincoln brand took third in overall nameplate rankings, averaging 100 problems per 100 vehicles. It was behind Porsche and Toyota’s Lexus luxury brand, which averaged 94 problems per vehicles. Lincoln jumped from 12th in 2006.

Overall, Ford’s strength came from new launches such as the Edge, MKX, and MKZ.

In the J.D. Power survey, Hyundai fell from third overall to 12th, according to the Associate Press. The most improved nameplates in the study are Land Rover, Saab, and Mercedes-Benz.

J.D. Power also gave the Platinum Plant Quality Award for producing vehicles yielding the fewest defects to Ford’s Wixom Assembly Plant, where production ceased May 31. The Detroit-area plant produced the Lincoln Town Car, which averages 35 problems per 100 vehicles. It was the first North American assembly plant to receive the honor since 1999.

For the study, J.D. Power collected responses from more than 97,000 buyers and lessees of new 2007-model-year vehicles after 90 days of ownership. This year’s survey included 228 questions and asked for information specifically about design and production, such as defects and malfunctions.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials