AutoPacific’s 2013 Ideal Vehicle Award Results Are In – Cars

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Background of AutoPacific’s IVAs:  AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Awards for 2o13 are given to brands and vehicles that best meet the expectations of their buyers.  The person driving the car does not want it to be bigger or more powerful or have better info/entertainment systems.  Based on the results of over 52,000 respondents, the IVAs are owner-based awards that can serve to give car and truck buyers an idea of how well manufacturers have designed vehicles with their customers in mind.

As you read through the brief descriptions of the winners’ results you will notice some similarities where owners of most vehicles want change. Visibility  Among all cars about 29% of owners want better driver’s seat visibility.  Too often visibility is sacrificed for swoopy styling.  Roominess  About 24% of car owners want more passenger roominess than now.  Of course, some people bought a vehicle that may be smaller than they like so they want something bigger, but many are also reacting because passenger roominess has been sacrificed for style. Power vs Fuel Economy  Even when talking about today’s high gas prices, owners want good power and acceleration.  About 26% want more power and acceleration and only 7% of the respondents would sacrifice power and acceleration for better fuel economy.  Ingress/Egress  Going with the basic package challenges like roof height vs styling and rear seat room vs styling there is also ease of getting in and out.  About 26% of all car owners want their vehicles to be easier to get in and out of.  Info/Entertainment Technology  Design of the info/entertainment technology is one of the most hotly contested areas of vehicle design today.  Some manufacturers have a good handle on this, but 25% of car owners want more info/entertainment technology than they have now.  These folks are offset by 13% who want their info/entertainment technology to be simpler and easier to use.

With that preamble in mind, here are the Ideal Vehicle Award winners for cars  for 2013…

Most Ideal Premium Brand – Porsche:  Porsche has been here before having won the top IVA ratings for five of the eight years the awards have been given.  Porsche attracts a very affluent and enthusiastic clientele.  Its cars and SUVs are well-made, well-thought out and very stylish.  Clearly, Porsche designers and engineers have paid close attention to their customers when developing Porsche products.

Most Ideal Popular Brand – Ram Trucks:  At the top of the popular brand hierarchy is Ram Trucks.  This truck-only brand is primarily made up of the Ram 1500, and Ram Heavy Duty pickups.  The Ram 1500 has been heavily updated over the past years and clearly the Chrysler Group engineers developing the truck and its heavy duty companions have done an excellent job at developing products well-targeted to Ram buyers.

Most Ideal Vehicle Overall and Most Ideal Luxury Crossover SUV – 2013 Mercedes-Benz ML:  Mercedes-Benz is always very competitive in the Ideal Vehicle Awards and this year its ML sports utility vehicle wins the overall Ideal Vehicle Award with an impressive score.  While ML is the top scorer by a good margin, no vehicle is perfect.  Looking at individual attributes of the vehicle, owners would like more power and acceleration, easier to get in and out, more distinctive wheels, and better visibility for the driver.

2014 Hyundai EquusMost Ideal Luxury Car – 2013 Hyundai Equus:  A few years ago when Hyundai launched the Equus luxury car, many people thought that this was too far of a stretch for what had been a value brand.  Some people thought the car wouldn’t be good enough.  Well, Equus owners couldn’t disagree more.  The IVA score for the Equus is substantially higher than for the runners up – Lexus LS and Lexus GS.  Equus owners would like a more advanced into/entertainment features, bit more driver’s visibility, and more distinctive styling.  About 38% of Equus owners want more advanced info/entertainment features.

2013 Audi A5 R34Most Ideal Aspirational Luxury Car – Audi A5:  The Audi A5 is a very stylish sports coupe that hits its target buyers in exterior size and style, driver’s seat visibility, wheels and tires, driver’s seat comfort, and ride and handling.  There are clearly some sacrifices a coupe has due to its bodystyle.  About 28% want more passenger roominess.  About 25% of A5 owners want their car to be easier to get in and out of. Even though 82% are OK with visibility, another 18% want better driver’s seat visibility.   Other issues have to do with technology and performance.  About 18% of A5 owners want more advanced info/entertainment technology than now.  About 26% want more power and acceleration (only 2% are willing to sacrifice power for better gas mileage).  Even though most are satisfied with the wheels now on their car, about 16% want more distinctive wheels than now.

2013 Ford Taurus F34Most Ideal Large Car – 2013 Ford Taurus:  Taurus wins the Large Car Ideal Vehicle Award for the third time in the past five years.  This large Ford narrowly edged out the second place Dodge Charger for top spot.  Taurus hits the target in exterior size, exterior styling, and ride and handling.  Ford adopted an aggressive small greenhouse design for the Taurus.  The high belt line and small windows almost cost Taurus its crown.  A whopping 44% of Taurus owners want better visibility than they have now.  About 30% want their Taurus to be easier to get in and out of.  Similarly, for a large car, Taurus has a relatively small rear seat and 20% want more passenger room than now.  About 27% want the info/entertainment technology (known as MyFordTouch) to be simpler and easier to use.

2013_Lexus_ES_350_F34Most Ideal Luxury Mid-Size Car – 2013 Lexus ES: The Lexus ES is the top rated Luxury Mid-Size Car.  The ES hits its target in exterior size and styling, passenger roominess, tires and wheels, ride and handling and driver’s seat comfort.  About 22% of ES owners want better visibility, 18% want more cargo space, 18% want it to be easier to get into and out of, 16% want more distinctive exterior styling, 16% want more distinctive wheels.  While 20% want more info/entertainment technology, 24% want the technology in their car to be easier to use.

2013 Nissan AltimaMost Ideal Mid-Size Car – 2013 Nissan Altima:  The Nissan Altima is the top rated Mid-Size Car.  Altima hits its target market in exterior size and styling, cargo space, driver’s seat comfort, passenger roominess, wheels and tires, ride and handling.   About 28% of Altima owners want more advanced info/entertainment technology than now.  About 26% want more power and acceleration than they have now (only 5% would trade-off power for better gas mileage), 23% want better driver’s seat visibility, 22% want their Altima to be easier to get in and out of.  21% want more distinctive wheels.  Even though over 82% are happy with their passenger roominess, 17% want more.

2013 MINI Hardtop F34Most Ideal Premium Compact Car – 2013 MINI Hardtop:  No one can argue that the MINI is one of the most expressive small cars today.  But, how can such a small car win an Ideal Vehicle Award when it is so small and so focused.  MINI has hit its target with respect to exterior styling, tires and wheels, ride and handling, driver’s seat comfort.  About 38% of MINI owners want more cargo space.  When MINI owner want to change their car, much of their demand is in the area of package size.  Of course, in selecting the MINI, they should have been fully aware of its diminutive size and the compromises those would involve.  About 35% of MINI owners want more passenger roominess.  About 23% want better driver’s seat visibility.  About 24% want better ease of getting in and out.  About 21% want more advanced info/entertainment technology, but 11% want what technology they do have to be easier to use.  About 17% want more power and acceleration.

Most Ideal Compact Car – 2013 2013 VW Beetle SVVolkswagen Beetle:  The Volkswagen Beetle is all new for the 2013 model year and clearly the new model has hit the bulls eye with its new owners.  The Beetle is on target with respect to exterior size and styling, tires and wheels, ride and handling, driver’s seat comfort.  So the Beetle wins because of its iconic styling, efficient size and good comfort with great ride and handling.  As you might expect from a small car, owners want changes that would force the car to look different and grow larger.  About 28% of Beetle owners want better driver’s seat visibility.  About 27% want better passenger roominess.  About 22% want better ease of getting in and out.  About 15% want more power and acceleration.  About 18% want more cargo space.

2013 Honda Fit SportMost Ideal Economy Car – 2013 Honda Fit:  The Honda Fit has won this category from its first year on – now for the fifth year.  The Fit hits its target market in critical areas of exterior size and styling, passenger roominess, tires and wheels.  As winner in the class of the smallest cars, the owners want size and package related changes.  Also, given the small fuel efficient engine, power increase desires would make sense.  Let’s see how the owners would change the Fit.  About 30% want more power and acceleration, but only 6% would trade off power and acceleration for better gas mileage.  About 25% want better driver’s seat visibility than they have now.  Fit is a small, “cheap and cheerful” car so you know it is a bit Spartan, but 20% of Fit’s owners want a more relaxed driver’s seat than they have now.  About 13% want more passenger room.  While owners rate the tires more than satisfactory, about 13% would like better handling tires than now.  Same with styling.  About 87% want the same exterior style, but 13% want more distinctive lines.

2013 Porsche 911 SVMost Ideal Sports Car – 2013 Porsche 911:  A Porsche has won the sports car category of the Ideal Vehicle Awards for seven of the last eight years.  The all-new 911 wins again for 2013.  It hits its target in exterior styling and size, passenger roominess, tires and wheels, driver’s seat comfort, ride and handling.  You are supposed to compromise on a lot when you drive a sports car, right.  Here are the areas Porsche 911 drivers most want change.  As a high performance sports car, you would think 911 owners are satisfied with their power and acceleration and about 77% are.  However, about 19% want more power and acceleration than they have now.  About 22% want more cargo space – understandable in a rear engine vehicle with the trunk up front.  about 21% want better driver’s seat visibility.  About 15% want more advanced info/entertainment technology than now, but 11% want the technology they do have to be easier to use.  (Remember, these are affluent folks who likely are surrounded by high technology in their everyday life).

2013 Chevrolet Camaro LT with an RS Appearance PackageMost Ideal Sporty Car – 2013 Chevrolet Camaro:  Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger seem to be swapping this award year to year.  For 2013, the Camaro gets the nod with Camaro owners giving it a substantial rating lead over the Challenger.  The Camaro hits the target in exterior size and styling, ride and handling, wheels and tires, driver’s seat comfort.  Camaro owners would like to have several changes that would require styling and package changes.  About 38% want more cargo room.  About 37% want Camaro to be easier to get into and out of.  About 33% want more driver’s seat visibility.  About 26% want more roominess.  In interior technology, about 23% want more info/entertainment technology, but 11% want the technology they have now to be easier to use.  About 16% want more power and acceleration than now.

2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid F34Most Ideal Hybrid/EV Car – Toyota Avalon Hybrid:  The Toyota Avalon Hybrid is in its first year.  Toyota calls the slightly smaller Avalon a premium mid-size car, but we have kept in the large car category.   It hits its market in exterior styling, passenger roominess, ease of getting in and out, wheels and tires, power and acceleration.  So the large Avalon with its new styling seems to have hit the target pretty well.  Here are the changes the highest percentage of owners would make:  About 38% want more cargo space – likely a result of the hybrid batteries using lots of trunk space.  About 20% want more advanced info/entertainment than now, but 14% want the info/entertainment technology they have now to be easier to use.  About 16% want easier handling and a softer ride (Toyota was trying to go after a younger, more enthusiastic buyer with the new Avalon).  About 13% want a more relaxed driver’s seat than now.  About 13% want more passenger roominess.  And about 12% want a larger exterior size.

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