Tech Issues Hurt Initial Quality Ratings

By Staff Writer September 01, 2021

New-vehicle quality improves 2% from 2020, according to the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Initial Quality Study, released Aug. 31. This is slightly lower than the average rate of improvement (3%) seen during the past decade. Infotainment systems are the primary area preventing faster improvement, remaining the most problematic area for new-vehicle owners.

“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,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power.

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. The industry average of 162 PP100 is 4 PP100 better than in 2020, with 20 of 32 brands improving their quality from 2020.

Mass market brands continue to outperform premium brands: 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. Lexus (144 PP100) and Genesis (148 PP100) are the only premium brands that perform better than the industry average.

Some findings of the report:


  • Nissan Maxima achieves highest score of any model: The Nissan Maxima, with just 85 PP100, has the best score of any model in this year’s study.
  • Tesla’s unofficial score improves from 2020: Tesla receives an initial quality score of 231 PP100, an improvement of 19 PP100 from 2020. 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 J.D. Power permission to survey its owners in 15 states where it is required. However, Tesla’s score was calculated based on a sample of surveys from owners in the other 35 states.
  • Ram is the highest-ranking brand in overall initial quality for the first time, with a score of 128 PP100. Dodge (139 PP100) ranks second, followed by Lexus (144 PP100)—the highest-ranking premium brand—and Mitsubishi (144 PP100) in a tie, and Nissan (146 PP100).
    The parent corporation receiving the most model-level awards is Hyundai Motor Group (seven awards), followed by Toyota Motor (five); BMW AG (four); Nissan Motor Co. (three); and General Motors and Stellantis NV (with two each). Among brands, Kia receives the most segment awards (five), followed by BMW (four).
  • Hyundai Motor Group models that rank highest in their respective segments are Genesis G80; Hyundai Accent; Kia Forte; Kia Sedona; Kia Soul; Kia Sportage; and Kia Telluride.
  • Toyota Motor models that rank highest in their segments are Lexus RC; Lexus RX; Lexus UX; Toyota Sequoia; and Toyota Tundra.
  • BMW AG models that rank highest in their segments are BMW 2 Series; BMW X4; BMW X6; and BMW X7.
  • Nissan Motor models that rank highest in their segments are Nissan Altima; Nissan Maxima; and Nissan Murano.
  • General Motors models that rank highest in their segments are Cadillac CT5 and Chevrolet Corvette.
  • Stellantis NV models that rank highest in their segments are Jeep Gladiator and Ram 2500/3500.
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Last modified on Wednesday, 08 September 2021 14:27