Porsche, GMC and Lexus are the least problematic brands in the first 90 days of new-vehicle ownership, J.D. Power & Associates reports in its 2013 U.S. Initial Quality Study.

The 2013 IQS, redesigned to more thoroughly gauge issues vehicle buyers are facing with new technologies and features, places Porsche at 80 problems per 100 vehicles.

Advanced systems, intended to be helpful to new-car owners, continue to give many a headache, as J.D. Power finds two-thirds of reported problems in its 2013 study are related to vehicle design, with many respondents taking issue with their vehicle’s driver interface.

Features such as voice recognition or hands-free operating systems, navigation devices and Bluetooth pairing of cellphones were the targets of frequent gripes in this year’s IQS, says J.D. Power’s Dave Sargent.

“Owners desire, and in some cases are demanding, more content in their new vehicles, especially technology-related features, and auto makers are trying to provide it,” Sargent, vice president-global automotive, says in a statement. “The majority of owners don’t experience problems but those who do are frustrated.”

Sargent notes that, unlike more frequently replaced smartphones, a vehicle is a long-term purchase, with many Americans keeping their new car or light truck for at least five years.

“Features that are difficult for owners to operate, hard to understand or inconveniently located in the vehicle likely will remain a problem for the life of the vehicle,” J.D. Power notes.

Despite the IQS redesign, many of the brands appear in familiar positions.

While J.D. Power cautions against comparing this year’s results to prior years because of the changed methodology, the top-10 ranking largely comprised luxury and/or Japanese brands.

However, Toyota’s Lexus, No.1 a year ago but third on this year’s list with a rating of 94 problems per 100 vehicles, is topped by General Motors’ GMC truck brand at 90.

Rounding out the top 10 are Infiniti, Chevrolet, Acura, Toyota, Honda and Jaguar, with Hyundai, Kia and Mercedes-Benz tied for 10th at 106 pp 100 vehicles.

The industry average was 113 pp 100 vehicles for this year’s IQS, which surveyed 83,000 owners or lessees of ’13-model cars and light trucks between February and May. The survey included 233 questions.

The struggling Lincoln brand, which Ford is trying to transform into a serious luxury contender, finished at the industry average of 113 pp 100 vehicles.

Audi, Cadillac, Buick and Chrysler performed slightly better than average, while BMW, Volvo, Smart and Land Rover fell just below the overall industry bogey.

Near the bottom of this year’s IQS was one of the industry’s fastest-growing brands in recent years, Subaru, registering 128 pp 100 vehicles, along with Dodge, Ford, Ram, Mini, Nissan and Mitsubishi.

In second-to-last place, with 154 pp 100 vehicles, was Chrysler’s nascent Fiat brand, and Toyota’s Scion, which has been near the bottom of the IQS before, was dead last at 161.

In terms of top performers by segment, J.D. Power found the ’13 Toyota Camry to be the midsize sedan with the fewest problems during the initial 90-day ownership period, followed by Hyundai’s Sonata and Buick’s Regal.

Other top-ranked vehicles included the ’13 Honda Civic (Compact Car); Mazda2 (Subcompact Car); Acura TL (Premium Car); Hyundai Genesis sedan (Midsize Premium Car); Lexus LS (Large Premium Car); and Chevy Impala (Large Car).

The Buick Encore and Kia Sportage (Subcompact CUV); Honda CR-V (Compact CUV); and Chevy Avalanche and GMC Sierra LD (Large Light Duty Pickup) were some of the No.1 models in light-truck segments for ’13.

As part of the IQS, J.D. Power also doles out assembly-plant quality awards based solely on the fewest number of defects or malfunctions, not design issues.

This year, the Toyota Camry line at Subaru’s Lafayette, IN, plant takes the Platinum award, making it the top assembly line in the world in initial quality. Just 14 problems were found per 100 ’13 Camrys built at the Lafayette plant, J.D. Power says.

In North and South America, the Chevy Equinox and Impala line at GM’s Oshawa, ON, Canada plant takes Silver with 20 pp 100 vehicles. No Gold was awarded in the region, because the Camry line took the platinum award for the world.

In the Asia Pacific region, the Lexus LX and Toyota Land Cruiser large SUV line at Toyota’s Yoshiwara, Japan, plant wins Gold, registering 18 pp 100.

Audi’s A4, A5, A6, A7 and A8 assembly line at its Neckarsulm, Germany, plant leads the Europe and Africa region, with 23 pp 100.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com