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Subaru scores very low on J.D. Power Initial Quality study

The 2015 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study is announced and the Subaru brand is nowhere to be found on the top brands list. Were did Subaru rank?


The car initial quality ratings are out and the Subaru brand does not have any cars in their lineup on the top brands list. On the list of cars and SUVs, the award recipients do not include any of Subaru’s all-wheel-drive multi-purpose vehicles that have been so popular with consumers. The popular 2016 Subaru Outback wagon, Forester SUV, XV Crosstrek crossover, Legacy sedan and Impreza compact are all absent from the top vehicles on the 2015 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study list.

The study examines problems experienced by vehicle owners during the first 90 days of ownership. Initial quality is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

What brands are the best?

The J.D. Power study shows the Korean brands lead the industry in initial quality by the widest margin ever, averaging 90 PP100, which is an 11 PP100 improvement from 2014. For the first time in the study, European brands (113 PP100) surpass Japanese brands (114 PP100), while domestic makes (114 PP100) equal the Japanese for only a second time.

Japanese brands are slipping

The study says Japanese brands experienced an overall 2 PP100 improvement from 2014, but this has proven insufficient to keep pace with the industry. It’s causing Japanese makes overall to fall below industry average for the first time in the 29-year history of the U.S. Initial Quality Study. J.D. Power says only four of the 10 Japanese brands included in the study posted an improvement.

Who are the highest-ranked nameplates?

Porsche ranks highest in initial quality for a third consecutive year, posting a score of 80 PP100. Kia follows Porsche in the rankings at 86 PP100. This marks the first time in the history of the study that Kia has led all non-premium makes in initial quality. Jaguar (93 PP100), Hyundai (95 PP100) and Infiniti (97 PP100) round out the top five nameplates. Infiniti is one of the most improved brands in the study, lowering its problem score by 31 PP100 from 2014.

Where does Subaru rank?

The Subaru brand ranks fourth from the bottom out of the 34 brands on the list. The industry average is 112 and Subaru ranks 142 with only Chrysler, smart and Fiat ranking lower. Subaru also scored low on the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability study earlier this year. The low rankings do not seem to be affecting loyalty to the brand. Subaru has one of the most loyal fan bases in the industry, yet Subaru does not rate high for the brand with the fewest initial problems.

Subaru has created a niche market with their all-wheel-drive multi-purpose vehicles like the 2016 Outback, Forester and XV Crosstrek that consumers are responding to in a big way. Could it be loyal Subaru owners overlook some of the initial problems because they are so happy with the vehicles safety, utility, all-weather capability and performance? Loyal Subaru owners will need to answer that.


Bryce Beatie (not verified)    June 18, 2015 - 10:40AM

In my experience, when a statistic comes out reflecting an opposite perception on a consumer product than what the consumer's willingness to continue to spend money says, there is something wrong with the way the statistic was achieved. Maybe JD Powers isn't looking at what attributes of Subaru's product consumers truly care about. It would be interesting to see what JD Powers looks at and compare that list to the list of attributes the consumer cares about.

Ricker (not verified)    July 18, 2015 - 11:14AM

In reply to by Bryce Beatie (not verified)

I consider myself a huge advocate of JD Power and associates as well as a JD Power surveyor. JD Power's owners surveys are unlike any other survey I have ever seen or completed. I have completed at least two or more major JD Power surveys for my current vehicle. Let me tell you, these surveys are very very long and detailed. You have to have patience, like cars, and appreciate the survey impact and outcome on consumers. The survey questions are very detailed. They want to know everything and anything from brake sounds, brake feel, tire wear, noise, interior materials, interior noise, paint quality, service records, recalls, problems, repair costs, the list goes on and on. The survey will make your eyes pop out of your head. It took me like two hours taking my slow time sometimes rereading questions over and over.

Chuckles (not verified)    July 18, 2015 - 5:23PM

In reply to by Ricker (not verified)

JD Power won my confidence when they were the FIRST to show the lower quality of newer subarus!
And even Consumers Report have realized that they were late to report that there is an issue with fb engines in subarus.

Al (not verified)    June 19, 2015 - 5:31AM

Not surprised. I have a 2015 STI sitting in a shop having its engine replaced. The car has 7500 km. Piston number one imploded and apparently I'm lucky it's even covered.

Jimbo (not verified)    June 19, 2015 - 10:27AM

So glad to see someone noticing the quality dropping at subaru.
The oil burning problem continues years after the tsb...

Jim W (not verified)    February 5, 2016 - 10:37PM

I just purchased my fourth Subaru. I traded in my 2013 Outback with 36,000 miles because I was concerned with the constant appearance of the "oil" light. I received a great trade in and they acknowledged the oil issue. I decided to purchase a new 2016 Outback. With only 1000 miles, the car is back in the shop for the third time due to an alignment problem. They are working with me, but I can't believe that the car continually pulls hard to the right. This is not what I expect from Subaru.

Mike (not verified)    March 13, 2016 - 10:17AM

I'm on my fourth Subaru and third wrx as a 2015. I've loved Subaru since I can remember but what the heck is going on with them!!? 25k mileage and nothing but issue after issue. Both my 2002 and 2003 were flawless. If I wasn't such a diehard fan from the older gens i doubt I'd be sticking with Subaru much longer. Get with it Subaru!

Bill P (not verified)    April 20, 2016 - 9:47AM

I leased a new 2016 Impreza and drove it for 150 miles in the first 5 days when the dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree. Bottom line is transmission needed to be replaced after 150 miles of driving. Yikes!
Dealership has been less than helpful directing me to Subaru Corporate to fight the battle for a replacement car. Ever try to get through to Subaru Corporate to file a complaint. Do you like spending and hour on hold to talk to a clerk who can take information but not do much more. I have owned Subaru's for 25 years but I think it is time to make a switch.

TCR (not verified)    May 13, 2016 - 3:42PM

I'm also having major and ongoing problems with my brand-new 2016 Subaru Impreza and everything to do with either Subaru dealers or the Corporate HQ office is a big bad awful fight. A terrible car, an even worse car company. Terrible customer service. I'm trying to return it under the California lemon law.

GE (not verified)    May 16, 2016 - 11:51AM

The difference between the 2004 I use to own and the 2014 I now own is day and night. The 2014 is garbage, back to multipal dealers for vibrations numerous times. SOA only cares about stupid TV ads about lov, dogs, stories and selling cars. After owning 3 this is my last one. If it lasts and don't fall apart within 5 years.

Chris (not verified)    July 28, 2017 - 8:58PM

I can believe this, I believed all the Subaru hype - big mistake. My 2016 Impreza is a piece of crap. The transmission is constantly lunging, lurching, bucking at low speeds - and 3 different dealers told me it's normal. There are rattles in the car, all the windows go up and down at different speeds, the rear suspension sags with anything in the hatch. I hate this car and am looking to take a loss and trade it in.

Charles Brown (not verified)    July 29, 2017 - 8:06AM

Unless they've got an all-new engine that's completely different than the FB, it doesn't really matter. The chassis has nothing to do with the problems the impreza and xv have. The crappy air conditioning, unbearable seats, cheap plastics, horrible paint, and BURNING OIL are the main culprits.

Pippi (not verified)    November 3, 2017 - 8:59PM

It shows the decline of quality while riding on the past image. We did extensive research and have had nothing but problems with our 2016 Outback. The paint bubbled after 4 months, Subaru declined to cover it, the auto body shop stated they have only seen other Subarus with that exact problem (down to bare steel). Less than 25,000 kms and it now has been in the shop, again, for 2 days pulling the motor to repair an oil leak. The bean counters have stripped this model. Big investment for us and we have deep regrets.