Smartphone Problems Persist in 2021 J.D. Power Study

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - September 1, 2021

In J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Initial Quality Study, Ram came out on top. This is the first time Ram has topped the study’s charts. The truck-and-van-only automaker had a score of 128 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), well below the industry average of 162 PP100. Chrysler, Audi, Volkswagen, Volvo, and Alfa Romeo round out the bottom five automakers.

After Ram, the order goes Dodge (139 PP100), Lexus (144 PP100), Mitsubishi (144 PP100), and Nissan (146 PP100). Out of those five, Lexus made the largest jump up the ladder compared to last year. In J.D. Power’s 2020 Initial Quality Study, Lexus came in 12th place with 159 PP100. So, the Japanese luxury brand made a huge improvement, becoming the highest-performing luxury automaker in this year’s study.

Out of the top five automakers, four are mainstream brands. J.D. Power found that new owners cited fewer problems with mass-market automakers than owners of luxury automakers. The reasoning behind the find is simple — luxury automakers offer their vehicles with more tech features, a lot of which are more complex than the ones found on mainstream vehicles. These tech features can be difficult for owners to use.

Tesla, once again, goes officially unranked in J.D. Power’s study. This year, the all-electric automaker scored an unofficial quality score of 231 PP100. That, according to J.D. Power is a large improvement from 2020 when the brand scored 19 PP100.

Automakers that made large improvements from 2020 include Subaru, Cadillac, Porsche, and Nissan. Brands that did really well include Hyundai Motor Group, which had a total of seven vehicles that earned an award – Toyota (five), BMW (four), and Nissan (three).

The study looks at the number of problems new car owners experience in the first 90 days of ownership. A lower score correlates to higher quality. The industry average in 2021 is 162 PP100, which is an improvement of 4 PP100 compared to 2020. The study examines 223 problems that are broken down into nine major categories: climate, driving assistance, driving experience, exterior, features/controls/displays, infotainment, interior, powertrain, and seats.

This year, the study found that infotainment continues to be the most problematic category for owners. One in four problems that new owners cited could be categorized as being a part of the vehicle’s infotainment system. Six of the top 10 issues across the entire auto industry are infotainment-related, claims J.D. Power.

The biggest issue that consumers had with their new vehicles, though, involved Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. 2021 marks the first time since 2011 that voice recognition wasn’t the top-cited problem, as it’s been overthrown by smartphone connectivity. While the majority of automakers offer wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a few brands have started to offer wireless smartphone connectivity.

Unfortunately, owners are having even more trouble with the wireless aspect of the features. Compared to wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, we’ve found that wireless connectivity is harder to set up and tends to drop connection sporadically. So, we can understand why new owners are having issues with the feature. As the feature goes mainstream and more automakers offer it on their vehicles, we expect the number of issues to decrease.

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, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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