Consumers report fewer overall problems with autos but bellyache about hands-free audio and navigation systems.
DETROIT - Carmakers are doing a better job than ever eliminating nagging problems like wind noise, paint chips and balky engines.
Now the auto industry has to figure out how to make similar improvements in technologies aimed at users, like hands-free audio and navigation systems.
The latest automotive quality survey released Wednesday by the research firm J.D. Power & Associates showed that consumers were reporting fewer overall problems with new vehicles. The luxury brands Lexus, Jaguar and Porsche topped the rankings, while General Motors' Cadillac and GMC divisions were the best performers among the Detroit brands.
Yet the high quality scores posted by most automakers were tempered by a growing number of complaints about in-car technologies intended to allow users to issue voice commands, update their Facebook status, look up directions or check the weather forecast.
As consumers grow accustomed to ever-more sophisticated cellphones and computers, they are demanding the same level of performance from similar equipment in their cars and trucks, analysts say.
"Almost no manufacturer has solved that riddle yet," said David Sargent, head of auto research for J.D. Power.
Sargent presented the results of his firm's 2012 survey of initial auto quality Wednesday at a meeting here of the Automotive Press Association. The study evaluates problems that consumers experience during the first 90 days of ownership.
As in past years, Japanese automakers generally fared better than U.S. car companies. The lowest-rated major brand was the German company Volkswagen.
The hardest-hit company was Ford, which has been aggressively installing dashboard touch-screen equipment in its mainstream models. Last year, the Ford brand dropped from fifth in the overall J.D. Power rankings to 23rd, as customers reported numerous problems in their MyFord Touch systems.
Toyota's Lexus luxury division was the top performer, with 73 reported problems per 100 vehicles. It was followed closely by Porsche, Jaguar and General Motors' Cadillac division.