Dodge first domestic brand to take top spot in J.D. Power quality report

(June 25, 2020) DETROIT — Dodge became the first domestic brand to claim the top spot in J.D. Power's annual report card on new-vehicle quality, while Tesla unofficially finished last in its debut appearance in the study, now in its 34th year. Genesis was the top-ranked luxury brand for the fourth year in a row.

Following back-to-back podium sweeps by Korean brands, Detroit automakers claimed three of the top four slots in the closely watched Initial Quality Study, released Wednesday. The study measures the number of problems reported over the first 90 days of ownership.

“The Initial Quality Study is the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality and, year after year, automakers apply the insights they learn from consumers to make positive changes,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power. “The higher problem levels we see in this year’s study don’t mean vehicle quality has worsened; rather, the redesigned study asks additional questions that allow owners to cite more of the problems that they are experiencing.”

The industry average — 166 problems per 100 vehicles — was much higher than last year's average of 93 problems per 100 vehicles.

Dodge, which tied with Kia for first place with 136 problems per 100 vehicles, was a surprise winner, with five models surveyed: Challenger, Charger, Journey, Grand Caravan and Durango. The brand, which landed in the top 10 last year for the first time, has not introduced a redesigned or new vehicle since the 2011 model year. Older models give brands several advantages: Vehicles aren't saddled with as many connected features that typically drag down scores, and engineers have had more time to fix whatever problems do exist.

Chevrolet finished in third place, Ram fourth, and Genesis fifth and the highest ranked luxury brand.

Following are key findings of the 2020 study:

    •    Most domestic brands are above average: Seven domestic brands — Dodge (136 PP100); Chevrolet (141 PP100); Ram (141 PP100); Buick (150 PP100); GMC (151 PP100); Jeep (155 PP100); and Cadillac (162 PP100) — performed better than the overall industry average of 166 PP100. Collectively, this is the best-ever performance by the Detroit automakers — when compared with the import brands—in the history of the study.

    •    Most premium brands are below average: For most of the past decade, mass market brands have improved relative to premium brands, and this trend continues in 2020. Premium brands generally equip their vehicles with more complex technology, which can cause problems for some owners. Genesis (142 PP100), Lexus (159 PP100) and Cadillac (162 PP100) are the only premium brands that perform better than the industry average.

    •    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. Mitsubishi (148 PP100), Lexus (159 PP100) and Nissan (161 PP100) are the only Japanese brands to rank above industry average. “W. Edwards Deming said, ‘Quality is to fulfill the requirements of customers and satisfy them,’ and Japanese automakers excelled at this for quite some time,” Sargent said. “But some other automakers have surpassed them in recent years by understanding better what quality means for today’s owners.”

    •    Tesla profiled for first time: Tesla receives an initial quality score of 250 PP100. The automaker is not officially ranked among other brands in the study as it doesn’t meet ranking criteria. “Unlike other manufacturers, Tesla doesn’t grant us permission to survey its owners in 15 states where it is required,” said Doug Betts, president of the automotive division at J.D. Power. “However, we were able to collect a large enough sample of surveys from owners in the other 35 states and, from that base, we calculated Tesla’s score.”

    •    Infotainment is most problematic category: Almost one-fourth of all problems cited by new-vehicle owners relate to infotainment. Top complaints include built-in voice recognition; Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity; touchscreens; built-in navigation systems; and Bluetooth connectivity.

    •    Chevrolet Sonic achieves the best score of any model: The Chevrolet Sonic, with just 103 PP100, has the best score of any model in this year’s study.

    •    Jaguar receives first-ever model-level award: The Jaguar E-Pace is the first Jaguar model to earn an IQS award, with a score of 159 PP100.

“Initial quality is critical to the overall new-vehicle ownership experience,” Sargent said. “In the next few weeks we will complete the picture by providing results from the J.D. Power APEAL Study, which measures the positive experiences customers have from owning and driving their new vehicle, and the J.D. Power TXI Study, which measures how well automakers are introducing all-new technology into their vehicles. Successful manufacturers will examine all these areas as they strive to design and build even better vehicles.”

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. (three); and Toyota Motor Corp. (two). Among brands, Cadillac and Kia each receive four awards.

    •    Hyundai Motor Group models that rank highest in their respective segments are Genesis G70; Hyundai Tucson; Hyundai Veloster; Kia Forte; Kia Sedona; Kia Sorento; and Kia Soul.

    •    General Motors Company models that rank highest in their segments are Cadillac CT5; Cadillac CT6; Cadillac Escalade; Cadillac XT4; Chevrolet Malibu; and Chevrolet Sonic.
    •    BMW AG models that rank highest in their segments are BMW 8 Series; BMW X6; and MINI Cooper.
    •    Ford Motor Company models that rank highest in their segments are Ford Mustang; Ford Ranger; and Ford Super Duty.

    •    Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. models that rank highest in their segments are Nissan Armada; Nissan Maxima; and Nissan Murano.

    •    Toyota Motor Corp. models that rank highest in their segments are Lexus GX and Toyota Tundra.

Other models that rank highest in their respective segments are Audi A3 and Jaguar E-Pace.