Hell Freezes Over As Dodge Tops J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study

Daniel Fowler
June 25, 2020

The top brands, Dodge and Kia, had "just" 136 problems. It is the 34th edition of the Initial Quality Study, which JD Power says it has redesigned this year. Chevrolet, on the whole, was ranked third among brands, with an average 141 PP100. Dodge is the first domestic brand in the study's history to rank highest. The overall performance of its parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, ranks better than industry average for the first time.

That partly explains why Dodge did so well in this year's revised survey.

The parent corporation receiving the most model-level awards is Hyundai Motor Group (seven awards), followed by General Motors Company (six); BMW AG (three); Ford Motor Company (three); Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

JD Power also rates individual models, all of which you can see here, but the only three that really stick out are Nissan taking home the top prize for the Maxima, Armada, and Murano in their segments, in addition to the Chevy Sonic taking home the best score of any new auto.

Other models that rank highest in their respective segments are Audi A3 and Jaguar E-Pace. The 2020 survey is based on responses from purchasers and lessees of new, 2020 model-year vehicles, which is created to provide manufacturers with information to facilitate the identification of problems and drive product improvement. Betts said the score can't be ranked against other brands because J.D. Power wasn't able to survey Tesla owners in all states. For the first time, Tesla was included in the study and the results weren't good. In 15 states, J.D. Power needs a manufacturer's permission to survey owners, which Tesla refuses to allow, Betts said. The "adjusted" figure is because Tesla cars were only surveyed based on data available in 35 states in the country.

Hell Freezes Over As Dodge Tops J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study

The annual survey by J.D. Power also found that luxury brands performed below the industry average, often because they come equipped with more glitchy new electronics than mainstream brands.

Japanese brands fail to regain footing: Once regarded as the gold standard in quality, most Japanese brands have not improved as fast as competitors have and they continue to trail most Korean and domestic brands.

American automakers made their strongest showing ever in an annual survey of vehicle quality, as once-dominant Japanese brands faded. As with some studies in prior years, premium automakers did not do great this year by this measure, which JD Power partially attributes to premium cars having more complex features. Nearly one-fourth of all problems cited by new-vehicle owners relate to infotainment. The biggest owner complaints were about poor voice recognition systems or difficulty connecting vehicles to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay systems.

The market research firm released the results of its 2020 Dependability study in February, and on Wednesday we got the results from its 2020 Initial Quality study. Those questions were broken down into nine categories, including infotainment; features, controls, and displays; climate; seats; driver-assistance features; interior; exterior; powertrain; and driving experience.

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