J.D.Power 2020 Results: Kia Wins, Tesla Loses


The annual J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS) was released for 2020 and the report makes for interesting reading. This IQS focuses on the problems owners are having with their new vehicles. How did your favourite brands do?

The J.D. Power study is a great tool to look at reliability and quality of vehicles. Revised for 2020 and now in its 34th year, the study looks at the entire US car market and "examines problems experienced by owners of new 2020 model-year vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership." This year's report is based on responses from 87 282 respondents with regards to 189 vehicle series across 26 segments.

“The Initial Quality Study is the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality and, year after year, automakers apply the insights they learn from consumers to make positive changes,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power. “The higher problem levels we see in this year’s study don’t mean vehicle quality has worsened; rather, the redesigned study asks additional questions that allow owners to cite more of the problems that they are experiencing.”


PP100 refers to how many problems there were for every 100 vehicles. 

  • Most US brands are above average: 7 domestic brands—Dodge (136 PP100); Chevrolet (141 PP100); Ram (141 PP100); Buick (150 PP100); GMC (151 PP100); Jeep (155 PP100); and Cadillac (162 PP100)—perform better than the overall industry average of 166 PP100. Collectively, this is the best-ever performance by the Detroit automakers—when compared with the import brands—in the history of the study.
  • Most premium brands are below average: For most of the past decade, mass-market brands have improved relative to premium brands, and this trend continues in 2020. Premium brands generally equip their vehicles with more complex technology, which can cause problems for some owners. Genesis (142 PP100), Lexus (159 PP100), and Cadillac (162 PP100) are the only premium brands that perform better than the industry average.
  • Japanese brands fail to regain footing: Once regarded as the gold standard in quality, most Japanese brands have not improved as fast as competitors have and they continue to trail most Korean and domestic brands. Mitsubishi (148 PP100), Lexus (159 PP100), and Nissan (161 PP100) are the only Japanese brands to rank above industry average.
  • Tesla profiled for first time: Tesla receives an initial quality score of 250 PP100. The automaker is not officially ranked among other brands in the study as it doesn’t meet ranking criteria. “Unlike other manufacturers, Tesla doesn’t grant us permission to survey its owners in 15 states where it is required,” said Doug Betts, president of the automotive division at J.D. Power. “However, we were able to collect a large enough sample of surveys from owners in the other 35 states and, from that base, we calculated Tesla’s score.”
  • Infotainment is most problematic category: Almost one-fourth of all problems cited by new-vehicle owners relate to infotainment. Top complaints include built-in voice recognition; Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity; touchscreens; built-in navigation systems; and Bluetooth.


Dodge and Kia tied for the highest in overall initial quality, each with a score of 136 PP100. Dodge is the first US brand in the study’s history to rank highest. Impressively, this is the 6th consecutive year that Kia is the highest-ranked mass market brand. Chevrolet and Ram place third in a tie (each with 141 PP100). Genesis is the highest ranked premium brand for the fourth consecutive year in the study.

The car brand receiving the most model-level awards is Hyundai Motor Group (7 awards), followed by General Motors Company (6); BMW AG (3); Ford Motor Company (3); Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (3); and Toyota Motor Corp. (2). Among brands, Cadillac and Kia each receive 4 awards.

  • Hyundai Motor Group models that rank highest in their respective segments are Genesis G70; Hyundai Tucson; Hyundai Veloster; Kia Forte; Kia Sedona; Kia Sorento; and Kia Soul.
  • General Motors Company models that rank highest in their segments are Cadillac CT5; Cadillac CT6; Cadillac Escalade; Cadillac XT4; Chevrolet Malibu; and Chevrolet Sonic.
  • BMW AG models that rank highest in their segments are BMW 8 Series; BMW X6; and MINI Cooper.
  • Ford Motor Company models that rank highest in their segments are Ford Mustang; Ford Ranger; and Ford Super Duty.
  • Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. models that rank highest in their segments are Nissan Armada; Nissan Maxima; and Nissan Murano.
  • Toyota Motor Corp. models that rank highest in their segments are Lexus GX and Toyota Tundra.
  • Other models that rank highest in their respective segments are Audi A3 and Jaguar E-Pace.

2020's iteration also marked the debut of Tesla into the J.D. Power IQS, but with 250 PP100, it's a very poor result for the electric carmaker and it places them at the bottom.

Further Reading

Kia reveals 4th-gen Grand Sedona

Kia Rio Gets Major Updates

Updated Kia Picanto due in SA this year