Every year, J.D. Power announces its automaker rankings for initial quality in new vehicles. Spanning the first 90 days of new-car ownership, the study includes responses from over 110,000 people who either purchased or leased a 2021 model-year vehicle. It focuses on 223 specific areas in nine categories for initial quality, covering everything from functionality to tech systems and intangibles like driving experience.

All major automakers in the U.S. market are included in the survey except for Tesla, which doesn't allow reporting in certain states according to J.D. Power. With the numbers tabulated, Ram comes out on top with a score of 128 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100). Stellantis sibling Dodge is second at 139 PP100, followed by Lexus and Mitsubishi tied at 144 PP100. Kia rounds out the top-five at 146 PP100. As you've no doubt figured out, the lowest score wins.

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Folks might be surprised at the brands populating the other side of the survey. The best of the worst is Alfa Romeo with a score of 204, followed by Volvo at 210 and Volkswagen at 213. The second-worst is Audi, taking a huge tumble to 240 but in a rather amusing twist of fate, Chrysler is at the bottom of the list. Yes, survey-leading Ram's other automotive sibling ranks dead last for initial quality among automakers. It seems offering just two models – one of which remembers the Bronze Age – has its drawbacks with buyers.

2021 Chrysler 300

Aside from ranking automakers, the J.D. Power survey also ranks specific models in nine categories. The Nissan Maxima scored best overall with a rating of 85 PP100, landing the top spot in its Large Car category. Other winners include:

Category Winner
Small Car Chevrolet Spark
Small Premium Car BMW 2 Series
Compact Car Kia Forte
Compact Premium Car Lexus RC
Premium Sporty Car Chevrolet Corvette
Midsize Car Nissan Altima
Midsize Premium Car Cadillac CT5
Upper Midsize Premium Car Genesis G80
Large Car Nissan Maxima

For 2021, J.D. Power notes that a 2-percent year-over-year improvement is slightly lower than the 3-percent year-over-year average for the past decade. The study points to customer frustrations with technology as being the catalyst for the change, specifically with difficulties getting smartphones to connect with infotainment systems that seemingly grow ever-more complex by the minute.

Additional information on the 2021 study can be found on J.D. Power's website.

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