Autos

This Is America's Worst Car Brand

J.D. Power is the gold standard of auto research. It has just released its 2021 U.S. Initial Quality Study, which looks at “problems experienced per 100 vehicles.” The study is especially important to car companies because consumers often use it to make purchases.

This year’s study came to several important solutions, one of which is not new. Drivers have trouble with “infotainment systems,” which covers everything from satellite radios to safety features and hands-free operations. Many customers find these unnecessarily complex, which makes them less than useful. The authors pointed out: “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.”

Car companies have not been able to get these systems “right” based on years of similar complaints. Another problem drivers have is the connection between cellphones and car systems. Since cellphone use is universal, it would seem to be a problem that car manufacturers would have fixed by now.

In the 2021 U.S. Initial Quality Study, the brands that performed best are those with the fewest problems per 100 vehicles over the first 90 days of ownership.

Chrysler, one of the main brands of manufacturer Stellantis, finished last with a score of 251, against an average across all brands of 162. Chrysler was started in 1925 and was once one of the Big Three car companies, along with General Motors and Ford. Chrysler is a shadow of what it was several decades ago. It only has three basic models: the 300 sedan and the Pacifica and Voyager minivans.

Second from the bottom was Audi, one of the luxury brands of Volkswagen. It had a score of 240. The Volkswagen brand itself finished third from the bottom with a score of 213.

At the top of the list, Ram had 128 problems per 100 vehicles. It was followed by Dodge, another Stellantis brand, with a score of 139. The Ram performance is particularly important because full-size pickups are the top-selling vehicles in America. These also include Ford’s F-Series and the Chevy Silverado.

J.D. Power experts pointed out that luxury cars do poorly in the survey. Only two scored higher than the industry average of 162. These were Lexus, the luxury brand of Toyota, at 144, and Genesis, the luxury brand of Hyundai, at 148. J.D. Power experts believe this may be because luxury cars have complex infotainment systems: “Premium brands generally equip their vehicles with more and more complex technology, which can cause problems for some owners.”

Click here to see which is America’s best car brand.