In 2016, Kia leapt to the No. 1 spot, ending the nearly 30-year reign of premium brands. It held on to that top spot for 2017, with Genesis, Porsche, Ford, and Ram rounding out the rest of the top five. But while a rising tide lifts all boats, there are still winners and losers. And even today, there are brands that have a long way to go — something customers of these automakers found out the hard way.
J.D. Power & Associates has been conducting the Initial Quality Study for 30 years. The marketing research group sends a comprehensive 233-question survey to car buyers who have purchased new cars and asks them to rate their first 90 days with their new rides. And as far as the industry has come, it’s clear a lot can still go wrong on a brand new car. From the 2017 J.D. Power survey, here are the 10 car brands with the lowest initial quality, ranked by number of problems reported per 100 vehicles.
After some time in the wilderness, Nissan is refocusing its premium Infiniti brand, with a number of new models, eye-catching styling, and some seriously formidable new engine architecture. But big changes take time, and right now quality in current models leaves something to be desired. New owners told J.D. Power they found 107 issues per 100 cars. Oddly enough, Nissan itself ranks 10th overall in terms of quality.
Jeep is in the midst of a renaissance, enjoying a level of popularity it has never experienced. But despite its crossovers and SUVs flying off dealer lots, its quality leaves something to be desired. Squeaks, rattles, and wind noise have always been common on the rugged Wrangler, but a series of engineering recalls and tech problems have continued to plague the brand. Buyers can almost expect headaches. There were 107 reported issues per 100 vehicles.
Like Jeep, customers can’t buy Subarus fast enough. Their lineup of affordable, safe, all-wheel-drive models are perfect for young families and older drivers alike. But that doesn’t keep the Japanese brand from having issues. Out of 100 cars, buyers reported 113 problems.
Audi has long positioned itself as a tech-forward car company. Unfortunately, a risk of being an early adapter means a lot can go wrong. While rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz rank sixth and 18th, respectively, Audi finds itself at the back of the pack when it comes to quality. Out of 100 cars, customers reported 115 problems with their new vehicles.
In many ways, Mazda is one of the most exciting automakers in the world right now. From the Mazda3 to the full-size CX-9 SUV, the company has found a way to make every model it offers almost as fun to drive as the iconic Miata. Unfortunately, it still falls short in terms of quality. New Mazda owners reported 125 problems for every 100 cars.
5. Land Rover
For nearly 80 years, Land Rover has built some of the most capable SUVs on the planet. But the British truck maker has also had the reputation for uneven build quality for nearly as long. Despite record sales and a lineup of beautiful, luxurious SUVs, Land Rover still isn’t doing much to rehab its tarnished image. Out of 100 trucks, unhappy customers reported 131 issues.
After years of turmoil, Mitsubishi is now under the Nissan umbrella and trying to re-establish itself as a contender on the American market. Despite some success with the Outlander crossover lineup, the brand continues to struggle. Unfortunately, the latest J.D. Power report won’t do it any favors. Out of 100 vehicles sold, buyers reported 131 problems.
In the span of a few years, Volvo has gone from an aging, unexciting premium brand to one of the most dynamic, sexiest brands on the market. But between the phasing out of old models and the rapid introduction of new ones, quality seems to get lost in the shuffle. With boldly tech-heavy interiors, Volvos have been a disappointment for some new owners. Out of 100 cars, buyers claimed 134 problems.
In 2015, Jaguar attempted to buck its decades-old reputation for being unreliable by unveiling the Jaguar EliteCare warranty plan. At five years/60,000 miles, it’s one of the best warranties offered by a premium automaker. Unfortunately, buyers might have to use it more often than they’d like. Out of every 100 cars, buyers reported a frustrating 148 issues.
Back before it left the U.S. market in the 1980s, Fiat was sidled with the acronym “Fix It Again, Tony.” Flash forward three decades, and not much has changed. Despite a limited lineup in America, modern Fiats have developed a reputation for unreliability. According to the J.D. Power survey, it’s actually the most unreliable mass-market brand on sale stateside. Per every 100 cars, unhappy buyers reported 163 issues.
This article originally published on CheatSheet.com by James Derek Sapienza