Plenty of positive accolades went to domestic OEMs as AutoPacific unveiled its 15th annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards Thursday.
Ford led all automakers with seven units being named award winners, while Lincoln took the distinction as having the highest rate of satisfaction among premium brands.
Chrysler earned the nod for the highest satisfaction among popular brands.
Not be left out, General Motors had three vehicles honored, including the top unit — car or truck — registering highest overall satisfaction in 2011 with the Cadillac Escalade.
Among foreign automakers, Toyota came behind Ford in total amount of vehicles honored with four selections. Hyundai tied with GM with three units receiving distinction.
Another noteworthy achievement by a foreign OEM was the Mercedes-Benz S-Class picking up the nod as the car with the highest overall satisfaction score.
AutoPacific insisted its Vehicle Satisfaction Award is an industry benchmark for measuring how satisfied an owner is with a new vehicle. This study by the southern California-based automotive research firm summarizes the results of more than 68,000 new-vehicle owners.
“Vehicles that score highest in the Vehicle Satisfaction Awards are delivering value and satisfaction across a wide range of attributes,” explained George Peterson, president of AutoPacific.
“The winners perform well in 48 separate categories that objectively measure the ownership experience,” Peterson added.
Big 3 React to Honors
Not surprisingly, officials from the domestic nameplates cheered the news about their AutoPacific awards.
Besides being tapped for the highest satisfaction among premium brands, the Lincoln MKZ earned the nod in the luxury midsize car category, while the MKZ Hybrid took the accolade in the hybrid car segment. Also, the Lincoln MKT topped the premium luxury crossover SUV category.
“Lincoln has come a long way,” acknowledged C.J. O’Donnell, group marketing manager for Lincoln.
“We’re very proud to see Lincoln selected as the top premium brand in the 2011 AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Awards on the basis of owner back,” O’Donnell continued. “You’ll feel the difference the moment you get in a Lincoln.”
A similar upbeat mood came from Auburn Hills, Mich., as Chrysler not only took the honor as having the highest satisfaction rate among popular brands, but the OEM’s Chrysler Town & Country topped the minivan category and the Jeep Grand Cherokee received the top honor among premium midsize SUVs.
Peterson boasted that the new Chrysler Town & Country and Jeep Grand Cherokee demonstrate the company's new approach to product execution and that it is resonating with buyers.
That assessment prompted Olivier Francois, chief executive officer of Chrysler Brand, to respond, saying, “Chrysler is honored the satisfaction experienced by our owners with their new Chrysler vehicle resulted in winning the Top Popular Brand in AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Awards.
“Chrysler is passionate about building vehicles that customers are proud to own, and this award, based on owner back, reinforces the 2011 Chrysler lineup does just that,” Francois added.
Meanwhile, Peterson not only mentioned the honor for the winning Cadillac model, but he also pointed out that the GMC Yukon took top honors in the full-size SUV category.
“Vehicles like the GMC Yukon that score highest in the Vehicle Satisfaction Awards are delivering value and satisfaction across a wide range of attributes,” Peterson stressed.
That appraisal led John Schwegman, the U.S. vice president of GMC marketing, to say, “A premium truck brand can still represent great value in the market place with outstanding resale values and the lowest cost of ownership.”
AutoPacific Touts Award Value
As industry analysts have projected new-vehicle sales will approach 13 million units this year, Peterson reiterated the meaning AutoPacific’s annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards carry.
“Carmakers are constantly improving their products and relationships with their customers. They communicate their success by citing the satisfaction of their owners. Proof of satisfied customers is as good as gold,” Peterson declared.
“We’ve found that more than one-third of new car buyers are positively influenced by objective awards based on owner ratings when deciding on a new car or truck,” he continued.
“While the economy is strengthening, new-vehicle buyers continue to be especially careful in selecting the perfect vehicle for their needs,” Peterson went on to say. “AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award will help this year’s customers sort through the 262 car and truck nameplates presently available in the United States. A wise purchase decision is like money in the bank.”
AutoPacific’s 2011 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards
—Highest Satisfaction Premium Brand: Lincoln
—Highest Satisfaction Popular Brand: Chrysler
—Premium Luxury Car: Mercedes-Benz S-Class
—Aspirational Luxury Car: Hyundai Genesis
—Luxury Mid-Size Car: Lincoln MKZ
—Large Car: Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon (tie)
—Premium Midsize Car: Hyundai Sonata
—Midsize Car: Suzuki Kizashi
—Premium Compact Car: Volvo C30/S40/V50
—Compact Car: Hyundai Elantra
—Economy Car: Honda Fit
—Sports Car: Porsche 911
—Sporty Car: Scion tC
—Hybrid Car: Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
—Heavy Duty Pickup: Ford F-Series Super Duty
—Large Light Duty Pickup: Chevrolet Avalanche
—Compact Pickup: Honda Ridgeline
—Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle: Cadillac Escalade
—Large Sport Utility Vehicle: GMC Yukon
—Premium Midsize Sport Utility Vehicle: Jeep Grand Cherokee
—Premium Luxury Crossover SUV: Lincoln MKT
—Luxury Crossover SUV: Lexus RX
—Large Crossover SUV: Ford Flex
—Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV: Ford Explorer
—Midsize Crossover SUV: Mitsubishi Outlander
—Compact Crossover SUV: Kia Sportage
—Minivan: Chrysler Town & Country
—Hybrid Truck: Lexus RX450h Hybrid