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Durango Dave!
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Correct. And this is precisely why Toyota and Honda have succeeded, while FIAT has failed in North America. Even if you think that Toyotas are bland, boring and not for you, whenever your neighbor, your aunt or your boss asks for a recommendation, the last thing you want is to be blamed for telling them to buy a POS. So you take the safe route and tell them to go buy a Toyota or a Honda...and leave you alone. After all, if they are disengaged enough to have to ask someone else, chances are they won't be able to tell how good or bad a Toyota drives either.

On the other end the same thing happens: you own a FIAT 500 Abarth; you just love to drive that thing, how it sounds, looks, etc. But it is rough around the edges, and you've had some quality issues. But because you love it so much, you are willing to put up with them. When the same neighbor, aunt or boss comes asking for a recommendation, you are not going to tell them to buy one because you already know its shortcomings and won't hear the end of it. So you tell them to go buy a Toyota or Honda...and leave you alone.

Recommendation ranks among the top three sources of information when buying an automobile, and not having it is a huge handicap, especially for a brand trying to get a foothold in the market.

Product Quality is this overarching characteristic everyone wants: enthusiasts, non-enthusiasts, males, females, married, single, rich, poor, young, old, gay, straight, Christian or Muslim. That's not the case with performance, styling, or even fuel economy. Some buyers don't care about performance, others don't care how a vehicle looks, and as weird as it sounds, some don't even care about fuel economy. But who wants a shitty car...?

This is why a strong quality reputation drives sales volume: it appeals to everyone and promotes recommendation, further multiplying its effect.

As much "sense" as this makes... And to the extent that I agree,... it is all "speculation/conjecture/anecdotal," and based on perception without hard/tangible evidence... ie. The "assumption that Honda's/Toyota's" have less problems per vehicle versus an FCA vehicle based on a self-report survey.

The surveys, graphs, charts and other metrics that have been provided thus far, are all of "perceived quality". Is it important to attempt to address them?? Absolutely.

However, it is my opinion, that the real issue behind the difference in "perceived reliability/dependability" lands squarely on the shoulder of how the Customer is treated when they DO have a problem.

What is needed, are detailed listings/reports of what problem brought the customer in for service... aka
2016 Honda Accord - 425 complaints regarding Drivetrain
2016 Toyota Camry - 875 complaints regarding Engine
2016 Chrysler 200 - 540 complaints regarding Transmission

These types of reports would be more helpful, but still very much influenced by how the customer feels they and their problem was handled.

ie... I bring in my 2016 200 because the transmission is a little grabby. Instead of the service advisor/manager having a conversation with me and telling me that "these new technologically advanced 9-speeds may take a little while to get used to my driving habits at first, but rest-assured the transmission checked out fine, and shouldn't have any problems with it's reliability." They tell me "they didn't find any faults, and it's running normal." So now I feel dismissed, and keep coming back because I don't feel settled with the response, and I keep getting the same answer. So I trade in my 200 (which really was fine), for a Camry which transmission actually failed but replaced, but because they treated me with respect, I'm a happy camper. At the end of the year, when I get my annual JDP, KBB or CR Survey, I report that the Chrysler was at the dealer 3 times for the same issue, but am completely happy with my Camry.

In summary, you and I agree on a lot. Alfa needs to have a quality product -agree. And I'm not disagreeing that a strong quality reputation isn't important or a consideration for driving sales, because it is.

I think that where we disagree is the causality of the perception... Poor customer service/experience (my opinion) vs. vehicles that are actually less reliable/dependable than their competitors (your opinion).


P.s. BTW, I am enjoying and appreciate our ongoing, yet gentlemanly debate. lol
 

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Well went to check out the new Alfa Giulia last Friday...drove up and down the street in heavy traffic, almost stopped in the Maserati dealer for directions, could not find it and couldn't get sales to answer phone.
Then get a call back after I'm home that they didn't have the Alfa Romeo sign up and it is located at same Maserati dealership.

Good Grief, should have that noted on the web-site!
 

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The "Front-Line" Perspective
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When I was I college, breaking down on the side of the road was a real possibility.

Today people foam at the mouth because their Bluetooth doesn't connect automatically, the resolution of the navigation is poor, or Pandora takes too long to load up.

The trend appears to be that quality today means more than just reliability; it encompasses powertrain refinement, the fit and finish, the seamless interface with our mobile device, the stitching on the seats, the clarity of the audio system, the customer treatment, etc., etc.
I've wanted to comment on this post all week, kept forgetting.

If infotainment is supposedly something that factors more into the "dependability" study, why is that Uconnect is consistently regarded as one of the best infotainment systems in the industry by multiple evaluators and critics, and yet FCA vehicles are at the bottom?
 

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A few 40-year-olds have posted that they are too young to remember Alfa in this country (USA). Thanks for finding yet another unique way of reminding me that I am getting old. :p

The last Alfa that I remember being heavily marketed in the States was the mid-1980's Milano. It had an aluminum V6 that made a respectable (for that era) 150-ish horsepower. Mind you, I've never actually studied the car in any kind of detail...I just remember all of that from the marketing (and seeing the actual cars in person around SoCal).

I don't remember any kind of negative reputation about that car. It may have very well been unreliable, but if so, then it did not achieve the critical mass required to be "common knowledge" -- as in, the average Joe would instantly say, "Oh yeah, Milano...what a POS!" That did not seem to have happened.

What Alfa is doing right (IMO) with their marketing is capitalizing on their absolutely stellar heritage in motorsport. I have now seen the Alfa auto show exhibit for two years in a row, and it's really stirring. Heritage is important for certain luxury/sport buyers, and marketing to that can be a boon. At the very least, it introduces newcomers to the best part of the brand's long history.
 

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In Hagerty's "Hot list 2017" there is also the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth (in 2016 there was the Mazda MX 5 and this year the Miata RF).

"6. Fiat 124 Spider Abarth ($28,195) – When Fiat announced they were resurrecting the classic 124 Spider, many enthusiasts were ecstatic. When the firm announced the architecture would be shared with the Mazda Miata, which made last year’s “Hot List,” roadster fans knew they were in for a treat. With a 0 to 60 mph sprint in a healthy 6.3 seconds, the 124 Spider provides more power than its cousin through a MultiAir turbo engine with true Italian verve."
 

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Super Moderator
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I've wanted to comment on this post all week, kept forgetting.

If infotainment is supposedly something that factors more into the "dependability" study, why is that Uconnect is consistently regarded as one of the best infotainment systems in the industry by multiple evaluators and critics, and yet FCA vehicles are at the bottom?
Because it's more than just that. JD Power now gives three categories (Powertrain, Body and Interior, Feature and Accessory) plus overall in their Dependability awards. Even with UConnect, most FCA brands are average in the Features and Accessory category. And most FCA rankings in each category (as well as overall) are average, with a few below and a few above.
 

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Durango Dave!
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A few 40-year-olds have posted that they are too young to remember Alfa in this country (USA). Thanks for finding yet another unique way of reminding me that I am getting old. :p

The last Alfa that I remember being heavily marketed in the States was the mid-1980's Milano. It had an aluminum V6 that made a respectable (for that era) 150-ish horsepower. Mind you, I've never actually studied the car in any kind of detail...I just remember all of that from the marketing (and seeing the actual cars in person around SoCal).

I don't remember any kind of negative reputation about that car. It may have very well been unreliable, but if so, then it did not achieve the critical mass required to be "common knowledge" -- as in, the average Joe would instantly say, "Oh yeah, Milano...what a POS!" That did not seem to have happened.

What Alfa is doing absolutely right (IMO) with their marketing is capitalizing on their absolutely stellar heritage in motorsport. I have now seen the Alfa auto show exhibit for two years in a row, and it's really stirring. Heritage is important for certain luxury/sport buyers, and marketing to that can be a boon. At the very least, it introduces newcomers to the best part of the brand's long history.

Lol... sorry @Mr. Fusion ... You're not getting old, you're gaining more "experience"... ;-)
 

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I've wanted to comment on this post all week, kept forgetting.

If infotainment is supposedly something that factors more into the "dependability" study, why is that Uconnect is consistently regarded as one of the best infotainment systems in the industry by multiple evaluators and critics, and yet FCA vehicles are at the bottom?
Because some on here like to make excuses for poor quality and blame it on infotainment while they rave how Uconnect is the best system out there out of their other face.

The FACT is that Uconnect is a great system......better than most......so FCA's infotainment is RAISING their quality scores!

Without Uconnect, FCA would look even worse in these studies.
 

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As much "sense" as this makes... And to the extent that I agree,... it is all "speculation/conjecture/anecdotal," and based on perception without hard/tangible evidence... ie. The "assumption that Honda's/Toyota's" have less problems per vehicle versus an FCA vehicle based on a self-report survey.

The surveys, graphs, charts and other metrics that have been provided thus far, are all of "perceived quality". Is it important to attempt to address them?? Absolutely.

However, it is my opinion, that the real issue behind the difference in "perceived reliability/dependability" lands squarely on the shoulder of how the Customer is treated when they DO have a problem.

What is needed, are detailed listings/reports of what problem brought the customer in for service... aka
2016 Honda Accord - 425 complaints regarding Drivetrain
2016 Toyota Camry - 875 complaints regarding Engine
2016 Chrysler 200 - 540 complaints regarding Transmission

These types of reports would be more helpful, but still very much influenced by how the customer feels they and their problem was handled.

ie... I bring in my 2016 200 because the transmission is a little grabby. Instead of the service advisor/manager having a conversation with me and telling me that "these new technologically advanced 9-speeds may take a little while to get used to my driving habits at first, but rest-assured the transmission checked out fine, and shouldn't have any problems with it's reliability." They tell me "they didn't find any faults, and it's running normal." So now I feel dismissed, and keep coming back because I don't feel settled with the response, and I keep getting the same answer. So I trade in my 200 (which really was fine), for a Camry which transmission actually failed but replaced, but because they treated me with respect, I'm a happy camper. At the end of the year, when I get my annual JDP, KBB or CR Survey, I report that the Chrysler was at the dealer 3 times for the same issue, but am completely happy with my Camry.

In summary, you and I agree on a lot. Alfa needs to have a quality product -agree. And I'm not disagreeing that a strong quality reputation isn't important or a consideration for driving sales, because it is.

I think that where we disagree is the causality of the perception... Poor customer service/experience (my opinion) vs. vehicles that are actually less reliable/dependable than their competitors (your opinion).


P.s. BTW, I am enjoying and appreciate our ongoing, yet gentlemanly debate. lol
Once you collect sufficient responses through a survey, it stops being anecdotal, speculative and conjectural, it becomes representative by the laws of probabilities.

No doubt customer treatment can exacerbate or diminish perceived quality, just as customer loyalty can diminish the reporting of problems in surveys.

The bottom line is FCA does very little to attempt to manage either of them.
 

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No doubt customer treatment can exacerbate or diminish perceived quality, just as customer loyalty can diminish the reporting of problems in surveys.

The bottom line is FCA does very little to attempt to manage either of them.
Do you think this will help? AN: dealers vs FCA
 

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I've wanted to comment on this post all week, kept forgetting.

If infotainment is supposedly something that factors more into the "dependability" study, why is that Uconnect is consistently regarded as one of the best infotainment systems in the industry by multiple evaluators and critics, and yet FCA vehicles are at the bottom?
I'd say "was" regarded. That's one of the areas where there's been most improvement. The Uconnect in my 2013 Rubicon and 2015 Sahara look ancient now, while the Bluetooth in my dad's 2013 Journey is a bit testy to connect.

The GPS on my Rubicon died one week after the warranty ran out --kid you not. My dealer of many years is willing to replace the head unit as a goodwill gesture. However, in reading the forums about my options came across a Joying head unit, made in China, specifically for JKs. It integrates your Android or Apple interface onto the screen, let's you add a backup camera --which the factory unit won't unless you convince a dealer to flash it free of charge, delivers better sound quality, and all of this for only US$400! Amazon.com: JOYING Quad Core Android 5.1 Car Stereo GPS DVD Player for Dodge Ram Challenger Jeep Wrangler JK Head Unit Single Din 6.2” Touch Screen Indash Radio Receiver with Navigation Bluetooth/WiFi/Mirroring: GPS & Navigation
 

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Yet the Fiat 500 received a best in class award from JD Powers APPEAL award in 2015 and JD Powers best in segment dependability award in 2016.

It's all relative right?

Mike
I would love a 500 Abarth, but I am limiting myself to two vehicles at a time.
 
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This will likely sound stupid, but I think the expectations of the customers often become self fulfilling prophecy. I've never had quality issues, I expect none, I still have no quality issues. Folks that come to FCA because of price but wondering if they made the right choice can come all unraveled at the first issue. Now they have to defend their decision to those "I told you so" folks. I can't prove it, but I can't help believe expectations play a role (in perceived quality at least).
 

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The "Front-Line" Perspective
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I'd saw "was" regarded. That's one of the areas where there's been most improvement. The Uconnect in my 2013 Rubicon and 2015 Sahara look ancient now, while the Bluetooth in my dad's 2013 Journey is a bit testy to connect.

The GPS on my Rubicon died one week after the warranty ran out --kid you not. My dealer of many years is willing to replace the head unit as a goodwill gesture. However, in reading the forums about my options came across a Joying head unit, made in China, specifically for JKs. It integrates your Android or Apple interface onto the screen, let's you add a backup camera --which the factory unit won't unless you convince a dealer to flash it free of charge, delivers better sound quality, and all of this for only US$400! Amazon.com: JOYING Quad Core Android 5.1 Car Stereo GPS DVD Player for Dodge Ram Challenger Jeep Wrangler JK Head Unit Single Din 6.2” Touch Screen Indash Radio Receiver with Navigation Bluetooth/WiFi/Mirroring: GPS & Navigation
Uconnect 6.5" is ancient. Uconnect 8.4" in Dart and Journey is getting ancient. 2013 refreshed trucks, Chally, Charger, Durango, Grand Cherokee - this generation of Uconnect looks impressive and modern to most, not to mention so bloody easy to use in comparison to the competition. I tell my clients that if they were to drive a Maserati, they'll find this same system. I love it.
 

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Durango Dave!
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Once you collect sufficient responses through a survey, it stops being anecdotal, speculative and conjectural, it becomes representative by the laws of probabilities.

No doubt customer treatment can exacerbate or diminish perceived quality, just as customer loyalty can diminish the reporting of problems in surveys.

The bottom line is FCA does very little to attempt to manage either of them.
Agree completely about the responses. However the responses (in the surveys that I have studied/been apart of), do not directly address/question causality.

And you and I definitely agree on your last statement.
 
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The Uconnect 430 and 730 systems don't hold a candle to the current system. I have the RA4 in my Charger and while I wish it had CarPlay, I can't find a single fault with it.

I seriously doubt the infotainment system is the reason for the low reliability, because it seems flawless to me and to nearly everyone who reviews a new FCA car.
 

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The "Front-Line" Perspective
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The Uconnect 430 and 730 systems don't hold a candle to the current system. I have the RA4 in my Charger and while I wish it had CarPlay, I can't find a single fault with it.

I seriously doubt the infotainment system is the reason for the low reliability, because it seems flawless to me and to nearly everyone who reviews a new FCA car.
Go to Uconnect® Software Update - Update your Uconnect® System and enter your VIN. You're eligible for the Siri hands-free update that will give you some better operation between your iPhone and Uconnect. I considered dropping my Android for this reason solely, but I can't deal with iAnything.
 
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The Uconnect 430 and 730 systems don't hold a candle to the current system. I have the RA4 in my Charger and while I wish it had CarPlay, I can't find a single fault with it.

I seriously doubt the infotainment system is the reason for the low reliability, because it seems flawless to me and to nearly everyone who reviews a new FCA car.
Until the navigation routes you a horrible, horrible way. The nav is the most annoying part, imo. It's a nice feature, but man does it screw up a lot (and don't get me started on the cost to upgrade to already outdated maps).
 
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