Can You Judge A Car By the Dealership? Here’s JD Powers Customer Satisfaction Report

It’s interesting how some of the car brands listed on the JD Powers Customer Satisfaction report with the lowest rating, would be expected to have high marks. And yet, those carmakers with some of the best customer satisfaction marks fall far below when it comes to the car dealership experience. There just doesn’t seem to be that perfect car brand offering the best-rated cars with the best-rated dealership satisfaction. A case in point is both Toyota and Honda.

Which new car dealership had the worst rating?

A Kia Motors dealership store in St. Petersburg, Russia
A Kia store in St. Petersburg, Russia | Maksim Konstantinov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

In the JD Powers report, of a possible 1,000 points based on its comprehensive categories, both manufacturers have poor averages. These include the delivery process, dealer personnel, negotiations, paperwork, the facility itself, and the dealership’s website. 

The car buying experience has faced road bumps as a result of the pandemic. One of the ones impacting customers the most is high prices. The good thing is that used car prices also rose substantially, offsetting the higher new car price. According to Kelly Blue Book, the new car transaction price average hit a record $48,301. 

JD Powers
JD Powers satisfaction graph | JDP

Toyota has 762 points with Honda doing only slightly better at 773. But those are far better scores than the two at the bottom, Hyundai and Kia. The South Korean carmakers scored 758 and 754 respectively. So for mass-market brands, Kia scored the lowest. 

How does JD Powers determine new car dealership ratings?

dealer fees
A salesperson explains payment options | Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg via Getty

JD Powers bases its scoring on respondents’ answers to a plethora of questions. These cover everything from when they walk onto the lot until they drive off with their new car purchase. About 37,000 buyers gave their dealership assessments. The average score came out to 782. 

Kia says it has to “find a way to meet customer expectations.” Some of the respondents’ complaints involved typical dealership shenanigans like markups, to behavior bordering on criminal. So, yeah, Kia and Hyundai do really need to do better for their customers. 

And what about the top dealership experience? That goes to Buick, with an 825 rating, followed by Dodge at 816, and Subaru coming in with a rating of 804 points. The ratings covered 16 mass-market car brands. 

Which brand scored highest overall?

Honda improved on Dealer Attitude Survey
A Honda Accord Hybrid | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images
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Overall, the brand with the best dealer experience was Alfa Romeo with a score of 833, followed closely by Porsche and then Buick. Of all brands combined, one came in lower than Kia, and that one is Hyundai’s premium brand Genesis. It rated a 745 score. But at least it has improved from its 733 score in 2021. 

However, that bodes poorly for a brand with aspirations of competing with Lexus, and European brands like Audi and BMW. Conversely, Audi scored 792 while BMW hit 808 points, and Lexus was fourth overall with an 819 rating. So the combined Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis brands seem to have a common thread of poor dealer satisfaction, according to JD Powers. We’ll watch in 2023 to see if they can improve those numbers.