This past week, J.D. Power the global leader in consumer insights, advisory services, and data and analytics, released its results for its annual Initial Quality Study (IQS). While the Dodge brand dominated the study last year, it dropped to the second spot in 2021 as it was surpassed by the RAM brand.
The RAM brand’s first-place results were achieved thanks to owners of the Ram 2500/3500 Heavy Duty pickups, which were named the top-large Heavy-Duty pickups in the study. It shows that despite that the current Heavy Duty pickups continue to be based on the fourth-generation Ram Heavy Duty, the RAM brand continues to push the boundaries in delivering the best experience for its customer base with the recent 2019 to present update.
Ram 1500 (DT) owners also helped that vehicle rank second among large light-duty pickups. The results between the two categories lifted RAM up from the third-place ranking last year and a dismal 21st position in 2019. This continues to show the improvements that RAM has made to ensure that quality is a major concern despite a lot of initial issues surrounding the DT pickup when it launched back in 2018.
Although the Dodge brand was pushed to the second spot, America’s favorite four-door muscle car landed a podium spot with a third-place ranking in the large car segment, just behind its Chrysler 300 Series sibling.
“This is not a data point; this is a trend,” said Mark Champine, Head of North America Customer Experience at Stellantis. “Anyone who knows the robustness of our product-improvement processes, as well as the engagement level of our workforce, is not surprised by these latest results.”
For the Jeep® brand, the American adventure brand ranked eighth overall. That was three spots ahead of where it on last year’s list.
J.D. Power surveyed new-vehicle buyers about their first three months of ownership and tracked problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) to measure the performance of 32 brands. Compared with 2020’s results, RAM’s industry-leading total improved by 13 PP100 to 128. Dodge was next with 139, five PP100 fewer than its nearest competitors. “We’re proud to say it took another Stellantis brand to beat Dodge,” Champine said.
“We have seen the hard work put in by the Stellantis team up close,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power. “These latest results are testament to the efforts put in across the organization. To have the top two brands in the study is a very impressive achievement. Congratulations to the entire team.”
Jeep brand’s 149 total is 13 PP100 better than the industry average of 162. The intrepid brand’s performance was led by the Jeep Gladiator, winner of the midsize pickup category, and the previous-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, which scored a podium finish in the midsize SUV category.
J.D. Power released its key findings of the 2021 study, which found out some interesting points.
- Infotainment remains the most problematic category: One in four (25%) of all problems cited by new-vehicle owners are in the infotainment category, and six of the top 10 problems across the industry are infotainment-related.
- Smartphone connection is the top problem: For the first time since 2011, voice recognition is not the top problem cited by new-vehicle owners. The top complaint this year is Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity, which worsens significantly. This is a particular problem when these systems are operated wirelessly, which is increasingly common. “Owners want wireless connectivity, and the industry has responded,” Sargent said. “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.”
- 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.
Congratulations to the Stellantis team, for all of their hard work.