Ram, Dodge, Lexus, Mitsubishi obtain high marks for brand new car high quality in JD Energy research

2019 Ram 1500

Mack Hogan / CNBC

Ram Trucks topped the JD Power new car rankings for quality for the first time. The annual study across the industry showed that drivers complained the most about new high-tech features such as infotainment systems.

Dodge finished in second place, with Lexus and Mitsubishi taking third place for new car quality. Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus was the highest rated luxury vehicle brand, followed by Hyundai’s Genesis. Ram and Dodge trucks are both manufactured by Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler.

JD Power’s annual initial quality study is considered an important measure in the automotive industry. The company surveys thousands of new car owners and rates car brands based on the number of problems reported per 100 vehicles within the first 90 days of ownership. Problems can range from sluggish smartphone connectivity to engine issues and poor paintwork.

The Lexus LS 500h 2019

Mack Hogan | CNBC

The average number of problems per 100 vehicles was 162, an improvement of 2% over the previous year. The Nissan Maxima had the best score of any individual model in the study, with 85 reported problems per 100 new cars.

The main problem reported by the owners was with the connectivity of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, which got significantly worse when automakers implemented new wireless connectivity for the phone mirroring features. For the first time since 2011, speech recognition was not the study’s top problem.

Chrysler was one of the quality stragglers in last place, behind Audi and Tesla.

Tesla is not officially involved in the study because JD Power does not have access to customer data; automakers’ permission is required by law in 15 states. However, JD Power researchers were able to rate Tesla in their quality study, which began last year, and based their unofficial score on surveys of property owners in the other 35 states.

Dave Sargent, vice president of Automotive Quality at JD Power, said Tesla owners had reported issues that had more to do with the build quality, fit and finish of their vehicles than with the technology inside them. Examples of this were gaps in the body, paint problems, wind noise, squeaks and rattles in the interior.

Only one battery electric vehicle, an electric version of the Mini Cooper, ranks above average on the list, Sargent said.

In general, the problems with battery-powered vehicles reported by owners weren’t directly due to the fact that they were electric vehicles, he said, which means they won’t have any battery or electric motor issues on their new ones for the first 90 days after ownership Had electric vehicles.

“Because these vehicles are generally offered to very tech-savvy people, they tend to have the latest features and these don’t always work well on all vehicles,” Sargent said, adding that vehicles are getting better.

With seven top vehicles, Hyundai placed in the study as the best automaker overall. Toyota finished second with six vehicles, followed by BMW and Nissan with four. General Motors and Stellantis had two.

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