- ram was ranked #1 and dodge #2 in the j.d. power 2021 initial quality study, the first time a truck brand has achieved the top spot.
- the study surveys new-car owners on problems they had with their vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership, and it ranks brands according to problems per 100 vehicles. lower scores are better.
- the study was redesigned last year to give new-car owners more ways to report problems. in the 2020 study, infotainment was the most troublesome category.
the results of the 2021 j.d. power initial quality study are in, with ram and dodge securing the top two spots. the 223-question study surveys new-car owners on problems they experience with their new cars in the first 90 days of ownership and assigns each brand a score based on the problems per 100 vehicles. problems could range from serious mechanical issues to difficulties related to the infotainment system. in this year's survey, ram owners reported 128 issues per 100 new cars, while dodge owners had 139 complaints per 100 vehicles.
j.d. power surveys tens of thousands of new-car owners each year to suss out problems with the quality and user-friendliness of new cars. owners can report a wide variety of complaints ranging from problems with the powertrain to issues with the driver assistance systems, infotainment, or climate control. in fact, in 2021 smartphone connectivity was the issue most frequently complained about. the 128 problems per 100 vehicles reported by ram owners in the 2021 study represented a 13-point improvement compared to 2020. dodge's problems per 100 cars score was up slightly from 136 last year.
ram is the first truck-only brand to top the j.d. power survey rankings. ram brand ceo mike koval jr. told car and driver that the ranking is "clearly an accomplishment, but also not a surprise," citing what he described as a "clear trend in quality improvements." the company says its rise from a 21st-place finish in 2019 was driven by the heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 trucks it released for 2020, which ranked first among heavy-duty trucks in this year's study.
the initial quality study can be a helpful starting point when shopping for a new car, but it shouldn't be taken as gospel. the study focuses entirely on the quality of brand-new cars. ninety days is only a tiny fraction of a car's life, and plenty of things can go wrong after that period that would never be captured by this survey. and though the study notes serious malfunctions and manufacturing defects, low scores could also be caused by so-called "design defects"—features that may work exactly as intended but are criticized by the customer because they are frustrating, unintuitive, or unfamiliar. if you're interested in a bigger picture, j.d. power also conducts a three-year vehicle dependability study. in this year's study, which ranked cars from the 2018 model year, lexus and kia earned top honors.