Most Problematic Car Brands to Avoid, According to J.D. Power & Associates

Every year, J.D. Power & Associates releases its Initial Quality Study, and the 2017 edition proves what car buyers already know. The old adage, “They don’t make them like they used to,” is dead and gone. Today’s cars are built better and more reliable than ever. Across the board, initial quality has improved a whopping 8% over 2016, according to the J.D. Power report.

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.

10. Infiniti

2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport

2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport | James Derek Sapienza/The Cheat Sheet

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.

Next: Despite record-setting sales, this American brand still leaves a lot to be desired.

9. Jeep

2016 Jeep Renegade with MySky roof

2016 Jeep Renegade with MySky roof | Jeep

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.

Next: One of America’s favorite automakers leaves something to be desired. 

8. Subaru

View of Subaru Outback on the beach at sunrise

2017 Subaru Outback | Subaru

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.

Next: You might not expect to see this German brand on this list. 

7. Audi

2017 Audi SQ7 TDI

2017 Audi SQ7 TDI | Audi

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.

Next: This brand does fun better than almost anybody, but reliability is another story. 

6. Mazda

2017 Mazda3

2017 Mazda3 | Mazda

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.

Next: This iconic off-roader is still hobbled by so-so reliability. 

5. Land Rover

2017 Land Rover Discovery

2017 Land Rover Discovery | Micah Wright/The Cheat Sheet

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.

Next: Quality is just one of this struggling automaker’s problems. 

4. Mitsubishi

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross | Mitsubishi

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.

Next: This brand of beautiful cars still has a long way to go when it comes to quality. 

3. Volvo

2017 Volvo XC90

2017 Volvo XC90 | James Derek Sapienza/The Cheat Sheet

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.

Next: Despite a segment-leading warranty, this brand can still be a headache. 

2. Jaguar

2017 Jaguar XJ

2017 Jaguar XJ | Jaguar

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.

Next: All the problems of an Italian brand; none of the charm

1. Fiat

2016 Fiat 500 "1957 Edition"

2016 Fiat 500 “1957 Edition” | James Derek Sapienza/The Cheat Sheet

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.