(Reuters) - For the first time in 27 years, a nonluxury brand, Kia Motors, <000270.KS> scored tops in the annual initial quality study of new vehicles sold in the United States by J.D. Power, the business consultancy said.
For only the second time in the study's 30-year history, American brands got better marks collectively than their non-domestic counterparts.
And in another surprising result, the 2016 J.D. Power study showed that for the first time in a decade, owners of vehicles from non-premium brands reported fewer problems than those who own the more expensive cars, SUVs and pickup trucks.
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"Expected reliability remains the most important consideration purchasing a new vehicle," said J.D. Power.
Kia was first among 33 car brands in the study, moving up from second place a year ago. Porsche, a sports luxury brand owned by Volkswagen AG, <VOWG_p.DE> was second after finishing first a year earlier.
At the bottom was Daimler AG's <DAIGn.DE> Smart minicars, which scored well below next-to-last Fiat, and third-to-last Volvo <VOLVb.ST>.
J.D. Power received more than 80,000 surveys from owners of 2016 model year new vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership. In a 233-question survey, the owners reported problems encountered with their purchases.
Rounding out the top 10 highest-ranked vehicle brands, in order, were Hyundai Motor Co, <005380.KS> Toyota Motor Corp, <7203.T> BMW, <BMWG.DE> General Motors Co's <GM.N> biggest brand Chevrolet, and three in a tie, GM's Buick, Toyota's Lexus, and Ford Motor Co's <F.N> Lincoln luxury brand.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' <FCHA.MI> <FCAU.N> brands Jeep and Chrysler were the most improved in the study, J.D. Power said.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by David Gregorio)