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Toyota still at top for car quality

NEW YORK — Ford, General Motors and Chrysler have made strides in new vehicle quality over the last year, but they still lag behind their foreign competitors, according to a closely watched study released Monday by J.D. Power and Associates.

The initial quality of 2009 model year vehicles sold by the Detroit Three improved by an average of 10 percent from last year, the marketing and consulting company said. 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,” said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power, in a statement.

Lexus, Toyota Motor Corp.’s luxury line, was the top brand in J.D. Power’s initial quality study, an annual survey of vehicle owners that measures mechanical and design problems in the first 90 days of ownership.

Porsche was the No. 2 brand, followed by GM’s Cadillac, then Hyundai and Honda.

Toyota, which supplanted General Motors Corp. as the world’s largest automaker last year, also swept 10 vehicle segment awards. Its assembly facility in Higashi-Fuji, Japan, that builds the Lexus SC 430 and the Toyota Corolla took the J.D. Power’s top plant award.

Though Chrysler’s scores improved year over year, it had no brands above the industry average.

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