Chrysler Is the Worst Quality Car Brand According to J.D. Power

Chrysler suffered another hit to its reputation after J.D. Power released its 2021 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS) in August. Overall, it found that new vehicle quality improved two percent from last year, with 20 of the 32 brands improving their vehicles during that time. Chrysler was not one of those brands. It was ranked dead last in the study, primarily due to concerns over car safety. However, it was not the only car manufacturer that will look at the list with some amount of shame. 

According to J.D. Power, which cars have the best quality?

The Chrysler logo on a dealership in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
The Chrysler logo | Sergei Mikhailichenko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The IQS measures quality by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100) during the first 90 days of ownership, with a lower score reflecting higher quality. The overall average score for the industry is 162. The top five car brands, according to J.D. Power’s findings, are:

  1. Ram (128)
  2. Dodge (139)
  3. Lexus (144)
  4. Mitsubishi (144)
  5. Nissan (146)

Ram’s place at the top of the rankings is a first in its history. On the model level, the Ram 2500/3500 trucks took the number one spot in J.D. Power’s Large Heavy-Duty Pickup category.

Dodge, in second place, is also owned by the same conglomerate, Stellantis. However, the fact that it also owns Chrysler and the lowly Alfa Romeo (204) suggests that the success of the two higher-ranked brands is not due to the oversight from their parent company. 

Lexus’ standing in the study is notable because it makes it the leader for all premium car brands. Mitsubishi’s work on cars such as the 2022 Outlander brings a four-point improvement over last year’s findings. Nissan misses out on tying with Lexus and Mitsubishi. Still, the Nissan Maxima earned the highest praise from the study as the highest quality model by having the lowest problem count of any vehicle at 85. The Maxima was also named the best car in the Large Car category, and the Altima earned the same distinction in the Midsize Cars category. 

Why is Chrysler ranked so low?

Worries about the safety of its cars have affected Chrysler’s product line for the past few years. The 2016 Town and Country minivan was investigated for a problem where the vehicle’s power sliding doors wouldn’t open. That car has since been discontinued, as have many other Chrysler models, leaving the company with only three vehicles on the market, the Pacifica and Voyager minivans and the 300 sedan. 

The 300 received good reviews in the IQS study, but they weren’t enough to save its rankings. Chrysler was deemed to have a whopping 251 PP100, and the 300 will cease production in 2023.   

When asked by Forbes why Chrysler and others received such poor scores, Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power, refused to get into specifics: “In general terms, the main issues can be described as the usability of certain technologies, including wireless smartphone connectivity, OEM apps, touch-free trunk/hatch and others,” he wrote. It’s “much less about manufacturing build quality.”

Other brands also have some work to do

Chrysler has some company at the bottom of the IQS study. Audi (240), Volkswagen (213), and Volvo (210) are the three brands just above it in the rankings. While all three companies should look at those numbers and improve customer satisfaction with their vehicles, J.D. Power maintains that the list doesn’t always translate to poor manufacturing quality. 

For more information on customer satisfaction, J.D. Power also has an annual Vehicle Dependability Study. Like the IQS, the VDS measures the number of problems per 100 vehicles, but instead of soliciting feedback from the first 90 days, it surveys the original owners of 3-year-old vehicles. Granted, Chrysler doesn’t come out great on that end either, but it’s only fourth-bottom on that list instead of dead last. It could be worse!

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