Stellantis NV crowned J.D. Power's 2021 Initial Quality Study with Ram topping the list followed by Dodge, which had tied for No. 1 with Kia last year.
The survey assessed 32 brands based on the first 90 days of ownership of new vehicles. Five Detroit Three brands bettered the industry average of 162 reported problems per 100 vehicles, which the Ford brand met. Five were worse.
Positive feedback from the Ram 2500 and 3500, which topped the list of heavy-duty trucks, as well as Ram 1500 pickups, which ranked second behind the Toyota Tundra in light-duty trucks, boosted the Ram brand from third place in 2020. It was 21st the prior year.
"This is not a data-point; this is a trend," Mark Champine, Stellantis' head of North America customer experience, said in a statement. "We're proud to say it took another Stellantis brand to beat Dodge."
Lower scores mean fewer problems reported. Ram's industry-leading result was 128, an improvement by 13. Dodge was 139, up from 136 last year.
Jeep also improved, rising to an eighth-place tie with Hyundai, up from 11th in 2020. It had 149 problems. The Gladiator topped the midsize pickup category and Grand Cherokee was third in the midsize SUV field behind the No. 1 Nissan Murano and No. 2 Chevrolet Blazer.
Chevrolet followed Jeep in a tie with Mini with 151 reported issues. The Corvette topped the premium sporty cars category. The Spark, Malibu, Traverse, Tahoe and Colorado also ranked second or third in their respective categories.
Following Chevy was Buick with 156 problems. Ford's Super Duty and Ranger midsize pickups ranked in the top three. Lincoln, GMC, Cadillac and Alfa Romeo all fell below the industry average. Despite the Chrysler 300 reaching the podium in the large-car segment, with the Dodge Charger behind the Nissan Maxima, which had the fewest (85) reported problems, the Chrysler brand ranked last.
Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus was the top luxury brand with 144 problems. Hyundai Motor Corp. came away with the most No. 1s, with seven vehicles topping their segments.
Overall, new-vehicle quality improved 2% year-over-year, less than the decade's average 3% annual improvement. Twenty of the 32 brands improved. And while infotainment remained the most problematic category, for the first time since 2011, voice recognition was not the top problem. The top complaint was phones connecting, especially wirelessly, to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
"Owners want wireless connectivity, and the industry has responded," Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power, said in a statement. "However, this has created a bigger technical challenge for both automakers and tech companies. Automakers generally are the ones facing the wrath of owners, but this is definitely a shared problem. Owners don't care who's at fault — they just want their phone and their vehicle to talk to each other."
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