Hyundai Sweeps J.D. Power Tech Awards


Car companies are technology companies now. Even affordable new cars today can often read your text messages aloud and respond with voice-to-text technology, update their software through satellite downloads, brake to avoid a collision, and limit their speed when a teenager is driving.

But not every new technology automakers offer us works very well. Owners can find themselves frustrated with difficult-to-operate cabin tech or even be unaware of many things their new car can do.

All of Hyundai’s Brands Did Well in New Study

The owners happiest with their new car tech, apparently, are those who buy from Hyundai Motor Company.

The company’s three brands – Genesis for luxury buyers and Hyundai and Kia for the rest of us – took home top awards in J.D. Power’s latest U.S. Tech Experience Index Study.

The study asked 110,827 owners of new cars whether they’d used various in-vehicle technologies within the first 90 days of ownership, how they felt about them, and whether they’d experienced problems with them. It combined the results into a single index score on a 1,000-point scale.

The industry’s average score was 478. Genesis topped all brands with a score of 634. Unsurprisingly, luxury brands took the top five spots overall.

Hyundai was the highest-rated non-luxury brand, at 519. Kia came in second at 510.

Tesla didn’t grant J.D. Power permission to survey its owners in every state, so it didn’t earn an official score. Its unofficial numbers, based on surveys in 35 states, would have given it the top spot.

The same phenomenon happened with the company’s brand appeal study in September. Tesla may want to start participating in J.D. Power studies.

Some Technologies Better Liked than Others

Not every new in-car technology proves its worth. Sixty-one percent of drivers whose cars have in-car digital marketing systems that allow them to make purchases through their car’s infotainment system said they’d never used it.

Some technologies just don’t work well. Gesture controls, like those found in some BMW and Jaguar vehicles, showed “extremely high 41 problems per 100 vehicles,” J.D. Power said.

Others might be more successful if owners knew about them. Drivers showed more satisfaction with trailer assistance technologies (like those that help steer a trailer when backing up) when a dealer took time to demonstrate how to use them. Owners, however, were more than twice as likely to learn about that technology from an outside source than from the dealership.

2021 U.S. Tech Experience Index Study Rankings:

Genesis 634
Cadillac 551
Volvo 550
BMW 545
Mercedes-Benz 523
Hyundai 519
Kia 510
Nissan 502
Subaru 499
GMC 498
Lincoln 496
Land Rover 487
Lexus 485
Ram 483
Buick 478
Infiniti 477
Toyota 472
Ford 470
Audi 469
Chevrolet 468
Mazda 459
Volkswagen 451
Jaguar 449
Honda 438
Acura 436
Chrysler 434
Dodge 434
Alfa Romeo 429
Porsche 428
Jeep 424
Mini 424
Mitsubishi 373