“From early in the ownership experience, many owners complain about these systems being problematic,” Sargent said in the statement.
“With smartphone apps increasingly giving owners an alternative,” he continued, that creates a problem for automakers loath to hand over this lucrative business to third parties.
Lexus stood atop the rankings, which included 32 brands, for the ninth time in 10 years, with 81 problems reported per 100 vehicles.
Sitting at the bottom of the rankings were Jaguar, Alfa Romeo and Land Rover, which together averaged more than two reported problems per vehicle.
Volkswagen had the biggest performance decline across all brands, slipping from sixth overall and 113 problems per 100 vehicles last year to 23rd this year with 163 problems per 100 vehicles. Only Chrysler, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo and Land Rover placed lower in this year’s ranking.
Honda also saw some significant slippage, dropping to the 22nd position (145 per 100) from the 14th slot (139 per 100) last year.
Both VW and Honda were hampered by model launches: the Accord and Odyssey in the case of Honda and the Atlas and Tiguan for VW, Sargent said.
Fiat was not included in the study because of an insufficient sample size. J.D. Power needs to collect at least 100 customer responses on a model for it to be included, Sargent said.
The study measures the number of problems reported per 100 vehicles over the past 12 months. The 2021 study is based on responses from 33,251 original owners of 2018 model year vehicles after three years of ownership. Responses were collected from July through November of last year.
The study, which has used the current format since 2015, is slated for a redesign next year as J.D. Power strives to account for “the wealth of new technology that has come to market,” Sargent said. “We need to ask consumers about this.”