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Dodge first domestic to top J.D. Power, and other odd news

by David Zatz on

Dodge was the first domestic brand to top the J.D. Power initial quality survey, which looks at problems encountered in the first 90 days of ownership. Dodge, Ram, and Jeep all came out well ahead of Toyota, which has been frustrating owners with its new Entune 3.0 entertainment system. UConnect was likely a major strength for the “Mopar” brands.

GM came out as the top company, an impressive feat. While Kia and Genesis did quite well, Hyundai was not quite as high up. (Among GM’s brands, Cadillac fared worst; Lincoln was worse than Ford; Acura fell below Honda; and Chrysler was well below Dodge, Ram, and even Jeep. This suggests part of the issue for some brands was the usability of their more advanced entertainment and safety features.)

The average car owner encountered around 1.7 problems in their new car over the first 90 days. Dodge owners only had an average of 1.4 problems, while Tesla owners managed to give Land Rover a good name by having 2.5 problems per car.

Fiat and Alfa Romeo were left off the chart, due both to low sales and, possibly, sympathy. Fiat and Alfa Romeo have not done well in U.S. quality studies.

Chrysler was the worst of the Mopar brands. Chances are two issues combined to make that so: issues with the Pacifica Hybrid minivans, which reportedly has more problems than standard Pacifica, and a much greater likelihood of having numerous advanced safety and infotainment features than Dodge, Jeep, or Ram.

The top brands were a roughly even mix of domestics (GM and FCA only; Ford and Lincoln were both below average) and imports. Honda and Toyota came in at about the same number, just below  BMW but above Lincoln. Mazda’s poor showing may, like Toyota’s, be due to poorly engineered infotainment systems.

Anchoring the bottom was Tesla, though the sample had some issues, and then Land Rover in its traditional place. Audi, with 2.25 problems per car, was a bit of a surprise, given that the same company makes Porsches and Volkswagens, both of which did better; VW managed to be in the top half, between Ram and Jeep, while Porsche was similar to Subaru, Chrysler, Acura, and Mazda. Mercedes and Volvo also did quite poorly.

While Mopar brands did quite well overall, they did not manage to come out tops in any segment at all.  Dodge did get second place in Large Car (Charger), and upper midsize SUV (Durango, beating Highlander). Chrysler, Jeep, and Ram did not take first, second, or third place for any car category, and the company’s two minivans were rated below average (Kia Sedona topped that category, followed by the Odyssey). In large pickups, the ranking was Tundra, Sierra, F-150, in heavy duty, Ford-then-Chevy.

The FCA Toluca plant (Journey, Compass) was the second highest rated of any, coming in below Buick’s Chinese plant (which makes the Envision). The Belvidere plant (Cherokee) got a bronze award while Toluca got a gold.

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