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Ram, Dodge, Lexus, Mitsubishi get top scores for new vehicle quality in J.D. Power study

  • Truck maker Ram topped J.D. Power's 2021 Initial Quality Study, a prestigious annual ranking of new vehicles.
  • The Nissan Maxima, with just 85 problems experienced per 100 new vehicles, had the best score of any single model in this year’s study.
  • Chrysler ranked last, behind fellow quality laggards Audi and Tesla.
  • Only one battery electric vehicle, an electric version of the Mini Cooper, ranked above average in the study.

2019 Ram 1500Mack Hogan/CNBC

Ram trucks topped J.D. Power's ranking of new vehicles by quality for the first time ever. Across the industry, the annual study showed drivers complained the most about new high-tech features, such as infotainment systems.

Dodge landed in second place, with Lexus and Mitsubishi tied for third for new vehicle quality. Toyota's luxury Lexus brand was the highest-ranked luxury vehicle brand, followed by Hyundai's Genesis. Ram and Dodge trucks are both produced by Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler.

J.D. Power's annual Initial Quality Study is considered an important measure within the auto industry. The firm surveys thousands of new car owners and scores auto 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 troubles and bad paint.

The 2019 Lexus LS 500hMack Hogan | CNBC

The average number of problems per 100 vehicles stood at 162, a 2% improvement from the prior year. The Nissan Maxima had the best score of any single model in the study, with 85 problems reported per 100 new vehicles.

The top problem reported by owners pertained to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay connectivity, which significantly worsened as automakers implemented new wireless connectivity for the phone mirroring features. It was the first time since 2011 that voice recognition was not the top problem in the study.

Quality laggards included Chrysler in last place, behind Audi and Tesla.

Tesla isn't officially part of the study because it doesn't give J.D. Power access to customer data; the automakers' permission is legally required in 15 states. However, J.D. Power researchers were able to rank Tesla in their quality study starting last year, basing their unofficial score on surveys from owners in the other 35 states.

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