Nissan Kills the Competition With This Surprise Winner

Now and then, an automaker gets everything right. With years of tweaking and perfecting, Nissan may have done just that with this latest edition of one of its most popular vehicles. Diving in for a deeper review, J.D. Power weighs in with scores from its 2021 U.S. Initial Quality Study, surveying several models on the market right now. And Nissan ruins the competition with this surprise-winning contender.

A chrome Nissan logo on a black grille.
Nissan logo | Getty Images

What J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study said about today’s cars

J.D. Power has been the longstanding name in the automotive industry as the independent ranking and data mining master. The teams compile information about vehicles but also scrutinize every detail according to real vehicle owners. This year’s Initial Quality Study (IQS) points to a few key findings for the 2021 roster of rides.

One of the more revolutionary finds for this year’s IQS suggests the mass-market brands are outperforming the premium brands. For the last six years, J.D. Power says mass-market vehicles present fewer problems than their more performance or luxury-centric competitors. And while many of the premium brands tend to offer more complex technologies, those extras then tend to cause more problems down the road. The only two premium brands still outperforming the mass market brand segment are Lexus and Genesis.

Other key findings in this year’s report suggest that the most frustrating and prevalent vehicle problems lie within the infotainment systems. Smartphone connectivity is another key issue for vehicle owners. For the first time in more than a decade, though, it’s not the voice recognition feature causing all the trouble. Instead, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities top the list. Unfortunately, the problem with the latest wireless connectivity platforms lies with both the tech companies and the automakers. However, it’s usually the automakers catching all the heat for connection and operation errors in the vehicle.

It’s not all bad news. Nissan has a lot to celebrate with the publishing of this year’s IQS. The Nissan Maxima kills the competition in a big way.

The highest-ranking score of any model in the running

What may be most impressive with this year’s J.D. Power IQS is the Nissan Maxima’s rise to the top. The Nissan Maxima, with an official score of 85 PP100, has the highest rating of any model in the entire study. It’s the model earning the Highest Initial Quality designation for 2021. This is a pretty remarkable achievement considering we’re living in an SUV and crossover-dominated world.

Nissan celebrates other wins, too. Nissan models rank the highest in each of their respective segments for the Altima, Maxima, and the Murano. The Nissan Sentra earns a place among the top three contenders in the compact car segment. Even Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee production plant earned Gold Plant Quality Awards for American and European markets.

Why J.D. Power studies should matter to car-buying consumers

You might wonder why a J.D. Power study should matter when you’re ready to buy your next car. And sure, there are plenty of auto reviews out there to consider. For example, Car and Driver loves the Nissan Maxima, citing its athleticism and performance. But J.D. Power studies go beyond the first impressions. And as Forbes points out, the J.D. Power team is a global leader providing consumer insights and advice, with a more in-depth, unbiased look at production, ownership experiences, and predicted reliability.

Choosing to buy a vehicle with a great score in J.D. Power’s IQS means you’ll be less likely to run into reliability issues down the road. The correlation is precise, too. Six of the last 10 automaker brands to rank highest in 2018 also made the highest dependability list in 2021. Initial quality means buying a vehicle that will deliver the best overall ownership experience.

The Nissan Maxima made it to the top of the J.D. Power IQS and deserves to be at the top of yours, too. This year, it killed the competition, which means only good news for anyone buying a Maxima anytime soon.

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