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New cars aren’t only getting more expensive, but they are also getting worse, according to a study conducted by J.D. Power. This is a particularly frustrating situation. What are car buyers supposed to do when prices are up, and quality is down? It’s a pickle. The weirdest of all is that due to the sharp decline in quality from major brands, some strange brands are climbing the quality charts. Case in point: Alfa Romeo is now the highest-ranking luxury car maker in terms of reliability. Let me say again: Alfa Romeo is the highest-ranking luxury car manufacturer right now. 

  • J.D. Power study shows new cars are more expensive and facing a decline in quality.
  • Alfa Romeo tops the luxury brand list in reliability due to competitors’ declines.
  • Dodge leads overall quality, followed by Ram and Buick, while Nissan Maxima ranks highest among models.
  • Industry faces unprecedented quality problems, attributed to supply chain issues, COVID-19 disruptions, and rushed production.
  • Startup brands like Lucid, Polestar, Rivian, and Tesla rank poorly in the study, and the car market is challenged by production issues, increased demand, rising prices, and higher interest rates.

What are the best quality car companies in 2023? 

Let’s start with the most interesting one. In the new J.D. Power study, Alfa Romeo came out on top as the highest-quality luxury brand. Basically, what that means is Alfa had fewer problems per 100 cars than the other brands. However, this rise to the top isn’t because Alfa Romeo suddenly had a major quality boost. According to the study, Alfa rose because others failed. 

Alfa Romeo has been around for a long time. The marque is responsible for some of the loveliest cars ever made. Alfa Romeos are often works of art. Beautiful things. However, historically, these little beauties often struggle to do what cars are designed to do. It makes this result both interesting and troubling. How did Alfa out quality brands like Porsche and Cadillac? 

Overall, Dodge is the highest-ranking car company in terms of quality. Ram and Buick followed behind. Interestingly, the Nissan Maxima was the highest-ranking model. Still, overall, the scores were low. Quality is down overall. 

Are cars getting worse? 

Mechanic working under a vehicle.
A mechanic is working under a vehicle | SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images.

To be clear, this quality study covers a range of factors, from performance and mechanical issues to things as simple as cosmetic or interior issues. There are many reasons for this sudden decline in quality. Over the past few years, we have seen massive supply chain issues, factory closures due to COVID-19, rushed production, and innovation on a grand scale. It stands to reason that things might fall through the cracks with this many disruptions. 

“The automotive industry is facing a wide range of quality problems, a phenomenon not seen in the 37-year history of the IQS. The industry is at a major crossroads, and the path each manufacturer chooses is paramount for its future. From persistent problems carrying over from years past to an increase in new types of problems, today’s new vehicles are more complex—offering new and exciting technology—but not always satisfying owners.”

Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking, J.D. Power.

The main problem areas with new cars are strange and pointless issues that come from trying overcomplicated things like door handles. Modern cars have increasingly complex door handles, and this means more breaking door handles. New safety systems are also a major problem area for new cars. Modern safety systems can be great, but they are complicated, and complicated means more problems. 

What are the worst-quality car companies? 

The Tesla Cybertruck parked in the sand
Tesla Cybertruck | Tesla

Startup brands like Lucid, Polestar, Rivian, and EV giant Tesla made a home at the bottom of the list. For Rivian and Lucid, there wasn’t a large enough sample size to be eligible, but they still scored poorly on the few that were included. 

The car market is moving at lightning speed. We can’t even process one new thing before every company is clambering to put its own version out. Production manufacturing is a mess. Demand for vehicles has skyrocketed along with price. It’s a perfect storm of the worst time to buy a new car. New cars are more expensive than ever, interest rates are way up, there is a limited selection, and on top of all that, they are breaking more. What are we to do other than sit back and watch? It is anyone’s guess what the next turn in the car market will be.