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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

RAM Is Best Ranked Brand In Initial Quality For 2021

RAM and Lexus top the 2021 J.D. Power U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS)
as the highest rated mass market and premium brand respectively.

The groundbreaking result for Stellantis’s RAM truck brand compliments Dodge’s second place ranking. Last year, Dodge re-wrote the record books by being the first American brand to top the IQS. Jeep also ranked very well, jumping to eighth place overall beating Toyota, Ford, Honda, Mazda, and Subaru (see bottom for full rankings).

For the past six years, owners of mass market vehicles have cited fewer problems, on average, than owners of premium vehicles. Premium brands generally equip their vehicles with more and more complex technology, which can cause problems for some owners.

The study, now on its 35th year, is based on responses from 110,827 purchasers and lessees of new 2021 model-year vehicles who were surveyed early in the ownership period. The study is based on a 223-question battery organized into nine vehicle categories (infotainment; features, controls and displays; exterior; driving assistance; interior; powertrain; seats; driving experience; and climate) designed to provide manufacturers with information to facilitate the identification of problems and drive product improvement. The study was fielded from February through July 2021.

Initial quality is measured by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100) during the first 90 days of ownership, with a lower score reflecting higher quality. RAM scored 128 PP100, while Lexus scored 144 PP100. The industry average is 162 PP100. Out of 32 brands, 20 showed quality improvements from 2020.

However, the J.D. Power study notes a slightly lower than average rate of improvement (3 percent) seen during the past decade. This is attributable to infotainment systems which remain the most problematic area for new-vehicle owners.

“Owners are caught in the middle when vehicle and phone technologies don’t properly connect,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power. “This year there are many examples of smartphone technology not working as intended in new vehicles. With more vehicles being fitted with the wireless technology owners want, the study reveals an increase in connectivity problems between smartphones and vehicles, leaving many owners unhappy.”

One in four (25 percent) of all problems cited by new-vehicle owners are in the infotainment category, and six of the top 10 problems across the industry are infotainment-related.

The biggest problem is smartphone connection. For the first time since 2011, voice recognition is not the top problem cited by new-vehicle owners. The top complaint this year is Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity, which worsens significantly. This is a particular problem when these systems are operated wirelessly, which is increasingly common.

While RAM has the highest ranking of all brands, the parent corporation receiving the most model-level awards is Hyundai Motor Group (seven awards), followed by Toyota Motor Corporation (five); BMW (four); Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (three); and General Motors Company and Stellantis NV (with two each). Among brands, Kia receives the most segment awards (five), followed by BMW (four).

In terms of assembly plants, Toyota Motor Corporation’s Motomachi 2 (Japan) plant, which produces the Lexus LC, receives the Platinum Plant Quality Award for producing vehicles with the fewest defects or malfunctions. Plant quality awards are based solely on defects and malfunctions and exclude design-related problems.

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.’s Smyrna 1 (Tennessee) plant, which produces the Nissan Murano, and BMW AG’s Dingolfing 2 (Germany) plant, which produces the BMW 7 Series and BMW 8 Series, receive the Gold Plant Quality Award for the Americas and Europe/Africa regions, respectively.

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