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Subaru Scores Poorly Again In The New J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

How does Subaru rank in quality compared with other automakers? Check out the new 2021 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study results here and how all auto brands performed.


How does the 2021 Subaru Forester, 2022 Outback, Crosstrek, and Ascent SUV quality rank with other car brands? According to the new J.D. Power 2021 Initial Quality Study (IQS), Subaru scores well below average. It's no surprise because historically, Subaru has never scored well in the J.D. Power IQS scorecard.

J.D. Power says car brand quality improved 2 percent from the 2020 study, and Subaru improves from last year's 187/PP100 score to 182/PP100 in 2021. But Subaru is still well below the industry average of 162/PP100. Power's Initial quality is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback

The new 2021 study reveals vehicle infotainment systems are the primary area preventing faster improvement, "remaining the most problematic area for new-vehicle owners," says Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power.

They asked owners a staggering 223 questions based on infotainment, features, controls and displays, exterior, driving assistance, interior, powertrain, seats, driving experience, and climate control.

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback

In the 2019 study, Subaru scored well below the industry average and was ranked sixth from the bottom. In the 2020 Power survey, Subaru moved up one spot and ranked seventh from the bottom scoring a 187/PP100 well below the industry average of 166PP/100.

In 2021, Subaru improved and is ranked ninth from the bottom. To put it in perspective, Lincoln, Porsche, GMC, Honda, Jaguar, BMW, Infiniti, Cadillac, and Mazda also scored below the industry average.

Subaru does not score any of its models in J.D. Powers' top three models per segment. The Kia Sportage scores highest in the compact SUV segment where the Forester resides, Nissan Murano where the midsize SUV Outback is scored, and Kia Soul is the best small SUV where the Crosstrek is the top-selling model.

Are the below-average 2021 J.D. Power IQS automakers producing cars with poor quality? The J.D. Power IQS study only takes the first 90 days of vehicle ownership into account. The Power study focuses on infotainment and new technologies, and new owners aren't familiar with the automaker's features. They are not studying long-term quality issues with the automakers and their specific models.

How does Subaru quality and customer satisfaction rank in other studies?

According to a recent American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) study, Subaru ranks number two among all mainstream automakers. The ACSI study asks customers to evaluate their recent experiences with their car brand for one year, between July 6, 2020, and June 28, 2021.

Subaru customers are most satisfied with the vehicle's safety technology, and next is dependability (engine, parts, breakdowns). Satisfaction also depends on customers who experienced a recall. Subaru has had recalls in 2021; you can read the full report here.

Subaru's below-average 2021 IQS ranking shouldn't be a concern for customers looking to buy a new 2021 Forester, 2022 Outback, 2022 Ascent, or 2021 Crosstrek.

You Might Also Like: Why New Subaru Forester And Outback High Customer Loyalty Rate Could Drop

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


ImprezaOwner (not verified)    September 2, 2021 - 12:40PM

Any car reliability study that has Ram and Dodge as the two highest reliable models is a joke.

Any car reliability study that has Toyota at 13 (+ or - my count may be off) and Honda at 18 is a joke.

Any car reliability study that weighs all problems equally (infotainment usability issue is the same point deduction value as a transmission failure) is a joke.

Even if the study were improved, there is the issue of the limited usefulness of a 90 day initial quality study. Its a poor proxy for overall reliability.

Ray Jensen (not verified)    September 2, 2021 - 6:05PM

This is 100% "BS". Last November, my wife and I traded put Telluride for a 2021 Outback Limited and a 2021 Forester Limited. BOTH cars were completely fantastic. Way above our expectations! Our situation has changed over the past year...and qe no longer need 2 cars. We were having one serviced, so I asked the Salesman just how nuts it would be to trade them...for a 2021 Ascent? With the microchip shortage...they loved it idea!...So...we did it! I was somewhat apprehensive about an Ascent...because of the bad reviews of the first ones. But I've got to tell you . WE BOTH LOVE IT! We just drove it fron Key West to Western 2 very hot, monster traffic filled days. "Perfect". And here's the secret: I managed automobile stores...for 35 years. I have appraised thousands of vehicles. This my favorite.