J.D. Power 2024 U.S. Initial Quality Study: American car makers fare well in major study (2024)

The Big Three automakers fared well in the J.D. Power 2024 U.S. Initial Quality Study released Thursday, with General Motors and Stellantis, which makes Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Ram and Fiat vehicles, finishing near the top for quality, along with some Asian and European premium brands.

Ram ranked as the highest brand overall for quality, followed by GM's Chevrolet brand and then Hyundai in third place. Ford vehicles showed a marked improvement over last year, when it did not rank high on quality. For the premium brands, Porsche, Lexus and Genesis came in first, second and third respectively.

The study is respected and its results are often tied to executive performance bonuses because the rankings objectively assess the industry.

Here's what you need to know about the J.D. Power 2024 U.S. Initial Quality Study.

J.D. Power 2024 U.S. Initial Quality Study methods

The study rates quality by "problems per 100 vehicles" in the first 90 days of ownership. This is the first year that the study incorporated franchise dealership repair visits with its "voice of the customer" data to create a more expansive metric.

The industry average this year was 195 problems per 100 vehicles — put another way, it means that the average new vehicle had 1.95 customer-reported problems, Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power, told the Detroit Free Press — a part of the USA TODAY Network.

That's a modest decline in quality from a year-ago when the survey found 192 problems per 100 vehicles. The lower the score, the higher the vehicle's quality. Last year, Dodge, Ram and Buick took the top three spots.

J.D. Power 2024 U.S. Initial Quality Study best cars

See what J.D Power named best in its category:

Best vehicle brands and scores (mass market)

  • Ram with a score of 149
  • Chevrolet with a score of 160
  • Hyundai with a score of 162
J.D. Power 2024 U.S. Initial Quality Study: American car makers fare well in major study (1)

Best vehicle brands and scores (premium)

  • Porsche with a score of 172
  • Lexus with a score of 174
  • Genesis with a score of 184

GM came in high for quality across the most models

Of GM's four brands, only Chevrolet and Buick ranked above industry average with scores of 160 and 164 problems per 100 vehicles, respectively. GMC and Cadillac came above the industry average. GMC had a score of 201 and Cadillac 214. Nevertheless, J.D. Power said GM won six model-level awards, the most of all the automakers.

GM models ranked highest in their segment:

  • Cadillac XT5 midsize SUV (Lexus RX second)
  • Cadillac XT6 upper midsize SUV (Porsche Cayenne second)
  • Chevrolet Equinox midsize SUV (GMC Terrain second)
  • Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty pickup (Ford Super Duty second, Ram 2500/3500 third)
  • Chevrolet Tahoe large SUV (Chevrolet Suburban second)
  • Chevrolet Traverse midsize SUV (Ford Explorer second)
J.D. Power 2024 U.S. Initial Quality Study: American car makers fare well in major study (2)

The other automakers to win the most model awards were Hyundai and Toyota, each with four awards. Hyundai models that rank highest in their respective segment are Genesis G80, Hyundai Santa Cruz, Kia Carnival and Kia Forte.

Toyota models that rank highest in their respective segment are Lexus IS, Lexus LC, Lexus UX and Toyota Camry. Toyota has the highest-ranking model overall, the Lexus LC, with 106 PP100

Among brands, Chevrolet received the most segment awards (four), followed by Lexus (three).

Cutting edge cars, cutting edge problems

But the study found that new technology on vehicles actually hindered some automakers' ability to maintain high quality.

The study showed EVs and plug-in hybrids require more repairs than gasoline-powered vehicles in all the repair categories.

Electric carmaker Polestar topped the list with 316 problems per hundred cars. EV automakers Tesla and Rivian rated poorly too, with a score of 266 each.

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“Owners of cutting edge, tech-filled (fully electric vehicles) and (plug-in hybrids) are experiencing problems that are of a severity level high enough for them to take their new vehicle into the dealership at a rate three times higher than that of gas-powered vehicle owners,” Hanley said.

Gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles average 180 problems per 100 vehicles, while EVs are 86 points higher at 266. In the past, Tesla has performed better, J.D. Power's study noted. But the removal of traditional feature controls, such as turn signals and wiper stalks, has not been well received by Tesla customers, the study said.

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Key complaints that literally stink

J.D. Power said customers key complaints on quality centered on technology. For example, frustration around false warnings as car owners did not understand what some bells and whistles meant.

"For instance, rear seat reminder technology, designed to help vehicle owners avoid inadvertently leaving a child or pet in the rear seat when exiting the vehicle, contributes 1.7 problems per 100 across the industry," the study stated. "Some mistakenly perceive it signals an unbuckled seat belt or cite the warning goes off when no one is present in the rear seat."

Also, advanced driver assistance systems, which are intended to save lives, irritated car owners with inaccurate alerts from rear cross traffic warnings and reverse automatic emergency braking, a newly added feature to the survey this year.

Also, problems with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay persist as the feature remains one of the top 10 problems as customers experience difficulties connecting to their vehicle or losing connection. More than half of Apple users and 42% of Samsung users access their respective feature each time they get behind the wheel, which indicated that customers want their smartphone experience brought into the vehicle and be integrated wirelessly, the study said.

Features, controls and displays were another problematic category in the study, rating slightly better than the issue-prone infotainment category. From activating the windshield wipers to the more intricate operation of an manufacturer's smartphone application, this category is particularly troublesome in EVs, the study noted.

Finally, customers reported unpleasant interior smells. The issue has worsened the most from 2023, with every brand except Kia and Nissan having an increase in unpleasant interior smell problems. Problem odors are described by owners to be emanating from their vehicle’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems.

J.D. Power 2024 U.S. Initial Quality Study: American car makers fare well in major study (2024)

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