J.D. Power’s 2023 Initial Quality Study has named the top new cars for 2023 in terms of buyers' satisfaction immediately following purchase.
This isn’t the report that suggests how long your car will last or how much it will cost in repairs (that's the annual Dependability Study). Instead, it surveys new car buyers to learn about any troubles they encounter in the first three months of ownership.
These troubles aren't necessarily things that broke, only that the buyer wasn’t happy with some aspect of the vehicle’s operation, even when that component is working perfectly. The result is a score showing the number of problems experienced per one hundred cars (PP100).
For 2023, an unfortunate trend toward more problems continued, with owners of the '23 models reporting twelve additional problems per 100 cars than the 2022 vehicles, which themselves suffered an increase of 18 PPM over 2021.
J.D. Power attributes this to a proliferation of problematic electronic gadgets.
“The automotive industry is facing a wide range of quality problems, a phenomenon not seen in the 37-year history of the IQS,” said Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power. "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.”
These are some of the key findings of the 2023 study:
- Vehicle basics—door handles—are increasingly problematic: Opening a door was once a non-discussion point—an aspect of a vehicle that had been examined, engineered, and mastered. The basic touch point of door handles is now a percolating problem area as manufacturers attempt to redesign them. Owners are having issues with high-tech approaches to this basic function; seven of the 10 most problematic models in this area are battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
- Safety systems causing problems: More than three-fourths (80 percent) of owners say their new vehicle includes all four of the primary driver assistance features—forward collision warning; lane-keeping assistance; lane departure warning; and blind spot warning. However, problems owners encounter in the driver assistance category have increased by 1.8 PP100 year over year. The most problematic areas are lane departure warning/lane keeping assistance (7.2 PP100) and forward collision warning/automatic emergency braking (5.0 PP100) for those that have these features.
- Owners increasingly happier with apps: Manufacturer smartphone apps improve by 0.4 PP100 this year as the market penetration rate grows to 76 percent. BEV owners in particular use their app at least 68 percent of the time, primarily to monitor the charging process and to view their vehicle’s available range. The higher usage and unique BEV use cases translate to more problems experienced using the app in comparison to those with an internal combustion engine vehicle.
- Android Automotive Operating System (AAOS) issues: A 21.5 PP100 gap exists between vehicles that have an Android Automotive OS without Google Automotive Services (51.1 PP100) and those vehicles that don’t have this system (29.6 PP100). This is only for the operating system for in-vehicle infotainment, not for the smartphone mirroring systems of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
- Smartphone charging becomes the most deteriorated problem: Across all 223 problems measured in the study, the wireless charging pad not working properly has increased by a sizable 1.1 PP100 and is driven by both increased penetration and more usability issues with the technology. Users are experiencing several problems, including poor location; phone overheating; and intermittent charging, if at all. “This is the area where manufacturers really have the opportunity to delight customers with this convenience, but instead are creating a problem for them,” Hanley said.
- Biggest movers and shakers: Brands that show the largest year-over-year improvement are Maserati (73 PP100 improvement), Alfa Romeo (68 PP100 improvement), and Ram (45 PP100 improvement).
- Unofficially ranked automakers fill bottom spots: Tesla Motors, with 257 PP100, increases 31 PP100 year over year, while Polestar (313 PP100) improves 15 PP100 year over year. Lucid Motors (340 PP100) and Rivian Motors (282 PP100) are included in the industry calculations for the first time but have too small a sample size to be award eligible. These automakers are not officially ranked amongst other brands in the study as they do not meet ranking criteria. Unlike other manufacturers, they do not grant J.D. Power permission to survey its owners in states where authorization is required. Nonetheless, a score was calculated based on a sample of surveys from owners in other states.
Among brands, Dodge was this year's winner, with an overall score for its products of 140 PPM. It just edged out corporate sibling Ram, which had only 141 PPM, and Alfa Romeo, whose buyers reported 143 PPM. For individual models, J.D. Power breaks down winners into 24 different categories and names the number one overall least troublesome new car. Click through our gallery to see the top three vehicles in each category. In the case of categories where fewer than three models had above-average initial quality, fewer than three vehicles are listed.