The 2014 J.D. Power & Associates Initial Quality Study, measuring the first 90 days of vehicle ownership, shows 19 of 32 U.S. auto brands declining from 2013, as well as a worsening industry average.

As has been the case recently, the deteriorating scores in this year’s IQS largely result from consumer dissatisfaction with in-vehicle technology, rather than mechanical woes.

J.D. Power’s Dave Sargent says such technology problems are partly to blame for the decline in the industry average in 2014 from 2013, to 116 problems per (pp) 100 vehicles from 113 pp 100.

"This is easily the biggest challenge facing the industry right now," Sargent says today at an Automotive Press Assn. luncheon in Detroit, noting voice-recognition-system woes were the top complaint on this year's study. Difficulty pairing a mobile phone to a vehicle, interior materials that scratch or mar easily, excessive wind noise, and difficult-to-use navigation systems rank as the next top complaints.

Sargent also says newly launched models continue to fare worse than established entries, and this winter's harsh winter weather led to at least six more problems per 100 vehicles in cold-weather regions from 2013.

While Porsche holds on to the top spot for the second consecutive year, with a measured 74 problems per 100 vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership, improving from 80 problems year-ago, and Hyundai climbs into the top five, other brands aren’t so lucky.

Last year’s No.2, GMC, falls to mid-pack, with 116 pp 100 vehicles in 2014 compared with 90 in 2013. Fiat goes from bad to worse, falling from 154 last year to 206 this year, placing the Italian brand dead last in the 2014 survey.

Fiat largely was impacted by a rough launch of the 500L, Sargent says, adding design woes outweighed defects as with most manufacturers.

Japanese luxury takes a beating, as Infiniti and Acura both fall from their top-10 perch in 2013 to below the industry average in 2014.

Infiniti placed fourth on the 2013 IQS with a scant 95 pp 100 vehicles, but this year sees 128; Acura worsens from 102 in 2013 to 131 in 2014.

Infiniti last year launched its new Q50 sport sedan and Acura brought out a new generation of its MDX CUV.

Infiniti’s sister brand Nissan fares better in the 2014 IQS, improving its 2013 score of 142 pp 100 vehicles to 120.

Other declining brands include Audi, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Honda, Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

With more Americans than ever parking Jeeps and Subarus in their garages, those brands also see worse results on this year’s IQS. Jeep suffered 28 more pp 100 vehicles than in 2013 and Subaru saw 10 more pp 100 vehicles.

The news is better for BMW, Dodge, Ford, Jaguar, Lexus, Lincoln, Mini, Mitsubishi, Ram and Scion, which all boost their 2013 scores; Kia tied its 2013 rating of 106 pp 100 vehicles.

In spite of General Motors’ worsening performance on the 2014 IQS, it still manages to snag six segment awards, more than any other automaker for the second year in a row.

GM’s Chevy Malibu takes honors as the midsize car with the fewest problems in the first 90 days of ownership; the Buick Encore is the top small SUV, tying with the Kia Sportage and Nissan Juke, and the GMC Terrain is the top compact SUV.

GM ties itself in the large SUV category, with the Chevy Suburban and GMC Yukon having the fewest issues, while GM’s Chevy Silverado HD is the highest-ranked large heavy-duty pickup.

Hyundai and Kia post the next-best performance. The Hyundai Accent, Elantra and Genesis rank highest in small-car, compact-car and midsize premium-car categories, and the Kia Cadenza is the large car with the fewest issues.

In its annual ranking of plants, J.D. Power names Toyota’s Cambridge South plant in Ontario, Canada, home of the Lexus RX, the platinum award winner for North America. Excluding design-related problems, vehicles produced at Cambridge South have just 12 defects or malfunctions per 100 vehicles.

Taking silver honors is GM’s Ingersoll, ON, Canada, plant, home of the Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain CUVs with 20 pp 100, and winning bronze is BMW’s Spartanburg, SC, plant, home to the X3 CUV and with 21 pp 100.

Lexus’ Kyushu 1 (CT, RX) and Kyushu 2 (ES, IS, RX) plants in Japan tie for gold in the Asia-Pacific region with 18 pp 100. Nissan's Tochigi 2 plant (Infiniti QX50, QX70) in Japan takes the bronze award with 19 pp 100.

Among European and African plants, Porsche’s Leipzig, Germany, plant (Cayenne, Panamera) takes gold with 26 pp 100. Daimler’s East London, South Africa, plant (Mercedes C-Class) wins silver with 27 pp 100, and Audi’s Neckarsulm, Germany, plant, which assembles almost every Audi passenger car available, is the bronze winner with 28 pp 100.

This year's IQS saw 86,000 online surveys completed, for vehicles registered from November 2013 through February 2014.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com