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New-car satisfaction dips as consumers struggle with higher tech

June 28, 2019
New-car owners are indicating more problems with the very technology meant to help them better navigate the roads, a new study found. 
Advanced driver assistance systems have become more widespread but are growing increasingly complex and troublesome for car owners, J.D. Power determined in an annual survey of the first 90 days of new-car ownership. The newfangled systems befuddling car buyers include lane departure warning, blind spot detection, collision avoidance systems and other safety-minded innovations.
"Consumers are sometimes confused as to whether they’re on or not—or confused about how to set them," Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive research as J.D. Power, said of the systems.
Sargent said he expects those complaints to recede as consumers become more familiar with the technology. "We don’t want to raise a big safety flag because, for the most part, it’s not that the systems aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do," he said.
The industry average stayed flat in this year’s Initial Quality Study at 93 problems per 100 vehicles, which marks the first year of zero improvement since 2014. More brands declined than improved over the past 12 months, with 18 worsening and 13 moving up.
In addition to issues with new technology, J.D. Power said an uptick in traditional problems is also to blame for the lack of improvement — including brake and suspension noises, engines not starting, early "check engine" signs and paint imperfections.
Hyundai Motor Group’s Genesis, Kia and Hyundai brands rank above the rest in terms of initial quality. The trio snagged the top three spots, in that order, for a second year in a row.
"They have become very adept at understanding what American consumers want and what they don’t want and delivering just enough," Sargent said of Hyundai Motor Group. The Korean automaker tends to outfit its vehicles with bare bones technology, whereas European automakers "are stuffing their vehicles full of technology, which people want and find appealing. But with that comes the possibility of having some problems," he said.
Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln and Ford nameplates rounded out the satisfaction list’s top five.
 
 

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