J.D. Power 2020 Initial Quality Study puts Dodge and Kia in first place

Tesla falls to the bottom in last place as the overall number of problems goes up

For the first time ever, an American automaker is ranked at the top of J.D. Power's yearly Initial Quality Study as Dodge tied with Kia for the top spot. Kia landed in first from second place last year — though it's Kia's sixth consecutive year as the top-ranked "mass market" brand — while Dodge jumped an impressive seven spots to move into a tied first from eighth in the 2019 edition of the study. Dodge is one of seven domestic automakers that find themselves in the top half of J.D. Powers' 34th consecutive IQS study.

Dodge and Kia's score of 136 problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100) puts them ahead of Chevrolet and Ram (141 PP100), Genesis (142 PP100), Mitsubishi (148 PP100) and Buick (150 PP100), which make up the top five after accounting for tied scores. GMC, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Jeep and Lexus round out the top 10. As you probably noticed, Mitsubishi and Lexus are the only Japanese brands to make it into the first 10 spots, and Genesis took home the award as the top-ranked premium brand.

This is the first year that J.D. Power released data on the survey results from Tesla owners, and it's not good news for the California-based electric vehicle manufacturer. With an adjusted score of 250 PP100, Tesla is in dead last place on the 2020 IQS Study, just behind Land Rover's score of 228 PP100. It's worth noting that Tesla's score isn't an official entry into the IQS study because surveys were only available in 35 states as the company is the only automaker that has not granted J.D. Power permission to survey Tesla owners in the 15 other required states.

According to J.D. Power, about a third of all problems reported by owners of 2020 model-year vehicles within the first three months of ownership relate to issues with infotainment and technology. In many cases, the high-tech systems aren't broken, but are difficult for owners to use or don't work as well as they should. Those issues are "just as severe as other problems," according to Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power, especially since a "customer is stuck with this [issue] for the rest of the time they own the vehicle."

J.D. Power surveys the owners of new cars with a questionnaire that covers 223 problems organized into nine categories: climate, driving assistance, driving experience, exterior, features/controls/displays, infotainment, interior, powertrain and seats. This year's study was redesigned to hone in on the problems owners face in the real world, with a renewed focus on high-tech features and driving assistance technologies. That has caused the average number of problems reported per vehicle to increase over previous years, but it doesn't mean vehicles have gotten less reliable. "Consumers are experiencing these problems in the real world whether we ask about them or not," says Sargent.

Here's the full numbered list from J.D. Power and their scores:

  1. Dodge (136)
  2. Kia (136)
  3. Chevrolet (141)
  4. Ram (141)
  5. Genesis (142)
  6. Mitsubishi (148)
  7. Buick (150)
  8. GMC (151)
  9. Volkswagen (152)
  10. Hyundai (153)
  11. Jeep (155)
  12. Lexus (159)
  13. Nissan (161)
  14. Cadillac (162)
  15. Infiniti (173)
  16. Ford (174)
  17. Mini (174)
  18. BMW (176)
  19. Honda (177)
  20. Toyota (177)
  21. Lincoln (182)
  22. Mazda (184)
  23. Acura (185)
  24. Porsche (186)
  25. Subaru (187)
  26. Chrysler (189)
  27. Jaguar (190)
  28. Mercedes-Benz (202)
  29. Volvo (210)
  30. Audi (225)
  31. Land Rover (228)
  32. Tesla (250)

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