Category Archive:

“Trucks” to Continue to Outsell Cars – XSUV Segment


500 wide Car Truck Sales 1987-2021500 wide Car Truck Mix 1987-2021AutoPacific, an automotive specialist research and product planning consultancy, forecasts that trucks, including XSUVs will be about 60% of the market for the foreseeable future.  In fact, reading the crystal ball for the next five years, this percentage of the mix may be low.  The charts above detail how cars and truck sales and market penetration have evolved since 1987 and the forecast for the future.

The hottest product segment in the American light vehicle market is the crossover SUV (XSUV).  A crossover SUV can be as large as a Chevrolet Traverse or as small as a Chevrolet Trax.  There are dozens of XSUVs in between.  And there will be more.

The XSUV segment has become so hot because this type of vehicle corrects the criticisms buyers had of traditional SUVs which sold very well, but were not optimal.  Buyers wanted products that were not hard-core off-roaders, but more civilized and city friendly.  The SUV market exploded in the early 1990s with the introduction of the Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee.  It wasn’t until 1996 that the crossover SUV began slipping into the marketplace.  First the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V appeared.  They were followed by the luxury crossover RX300.  Clearly the manufacturers were listening and reacting.

Here are just a few of the things we know about the evolution of the SUV market over the next five years…

Cadillac  Cadillac states that it has too few XSUVs (one, the upcoming XT5) and wants to add two or three more to its lineup while adding one more car as a range topper between now and 2020.

Buick  Buick is adding the small Envision XSUV to its lineup this Spring.  Envision is assembled in China.

FCA Drops Cars to Add XSUV and Pickup Capacity  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is dropping its Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart in favor of more capacity for XSUVs and pickups.  The Ram pickup will take over the FCA Sterling Heights, Michigan Plant when the Chrysler 200 is dropped.  FCA’s huge Belvidere, Ilinois plant will be populated by XSUVs when the Jeep Compass and Patriot plus the Dodge Dart fade away.

Toyota Pushing RAV4  Toyota Motor Sales has stated that they would not be surprised if the RAV4 XSUV overtook the Camry mid-size car as its best selling product.  Camry was the best selling car in the USA in 2015.

Lexus will add a 3-row XSUV above the RX350 in the next few years.500 wide SUV XSUV Sales 1987-2021500 wide SUV XSUV Mix of SUV 1987-2021


The charts above show the impact of crossover SUVs on the light truck market.  Huge volume increase and market share increase.

Hyundai Aggressively Adding XSUV Capacity  Hyundai is replacing 50,000 units of car capacity in its Montgomery, Alabama assembly plant with the Santa Fe Sport.  That drops capacity for the Hyundai Sonata and Elantra from 400,000 to 350,000 units per year.  Hyundai admits that they underestimated the demand for XSUVs years ago.  This capacity move reacts to market demand and dealer pressure to get Hyundai dealers more XSUVs that are easier to sell and require less incentives and discounting.

Hyundai will add 45,000 units to its Tucson compact XSUV volume this year.  Built in South Korea, Tucson has been limited because it is popular around the world and the vehicle was capacity constrained.

Hyundai also recognizes there is a hole at the bottom of their XSUV lineup and are adding a sub-compact B-Segment XSUV to fill that hole.  There is a possibility that a smaller A-Segment XSUV will replace the Hyundai Accent hatchback.

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AutoPacific 2015 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards


Owners rate Kia K900 top car, Ford F-150 top truck. Tesla Top Brand

TUSTIN, Calif. (July 8, 2015) – AutoPacific today announced its 19th annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards (VSAs), identifying the most satisfying vehicles on the market. An industry benchmark for measuring how satisfied an owner is with his/her new vehicle, VSAs are based on survey responses from over 66,000 owners of new 2015 model year cars and light trucks.

“2015 represents a year of diversity,” says George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. “Competition is fierce and no one automaker dominates the results.” The 2015 winners are spread across nearly every manufacturer, with wins by 9 out of 11 automakers. General Motors receives the most wins with 5, followed by Kia and Nissan, with 4 and 3 wins, respectively. Honda, Toyota, FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobile), Volkswagen and Ford follow with 2 wins each. Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai each take home 1 win.

“For the 2015 model year, there are 274 models and 33 brands from which to choose a new vehicle,” says Peterson. “It can be daunting for consumers to sort through all of those options and try to predict which one will work best for them in the long run. AutoPacific VSAs help to give them a strong starting point.”

The average VSA score for 2015 is 25-points higher than in 2014 confirming products and customer handling are improving markedly. The brands with the greatest year-over-year improvements are Jaguar – improving eleven positions; Volkswagen – improving ten positions; Ford – improving nine positions.

The Kia K900 – Kia’s range topping luxury car – set an all time high and wins AutoPacific’s President’s Award. This award is given only when the overall score tops the previous high score. Interestingly, the all-new aluminum bodied Ford F-150 would have won this award if the Kia was not in the running.  The previous President’s Award winners were the 2014 Mercedes S-Class and the 2010 Hyundai Sonata.

Korean Manufacturers Take Over Top Spot in Satisfaction

Tesla, a domestic brand with only one vehicle, is the top scoring brand overall.  General Motors’ GMC division is the top scoring mainstream brand.  In aggregate, Korean brands are the top source of high scoring vehicles.  With 5 winning vehicles, including the top ranking Kia K900, Korean manufacturers Kia and Hyundai come out on top in combined average score, taking over the position previously held by European manufacturers. “Kia and Hyundai are continually improving owner satisfaction in key areas like reliability and quality, yet are also hitting the mark with safety, braking, handling, styling and seat comfort, not to mention a very satisfying warranty program,” explains Peterson.

AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Awards objectively measure owner satisfaction with 50 separate attributes ranging from interior comfort and styling to fuel economy and performance.

“In many cases, an extremely satisfying vehicle is not the car or truck that has the best absolute build quality or the best safety rating,” says Peterson. “VSAs look at the big picture, which includes owners’ experiences with their vehicle’s quality and safety, but also goes deeper into the heart of the ownership experience.”

Brand SummaryVehicle Summary

About AutoPacific

AutoPacific is a future-oriented automotive marketing and product-consulting firm. Every year AutoPacific publishes a wide variety of syndicated studies on the automotive industry. The firm also conducts extensive proprietary research and consulting for auto manufacturers, distributors, marketers and suppliers worldwide. Company headquarters are in Tustin, California, with an affiliate office in the Detroit area. Additional information about AutoPacific and the Vehicle Satisfaction Awards can be found on AutoPacific’s websites: and


Dan Hall 714.838.4234

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2014 Buick Verano Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award



The 2014 Buick Verano is the highest scoring Premium Compact Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. The creators at Buick did a great job listening to what their customers wanted.  The Verano is at the top of its category against some impressive competitors such as the Volkswagen GTI, Acura ILX, Mercedes-Benz CLA, Subaru Impreza WRX, and the Mitsubishi EVO.  The Verano was second in Vehicle Satisfaction Award research trailing the winning Mercedes-Benz CLA by 8-rating points.

The satisfied Buick Verano owners do not want much change. Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle survey, the 2014 Buick Verano led or tied eight categories and was within three percentage points of one more.

The top five highest ratings by Buick Verano owners are: same interior lighting, same wheels, same exterior lighting, same ride/handling, and same safety features as now.

Although the Buick Verano is at the top there are several things owners would change. Owners would like  better visibly from the drivers seat, more passenger room, simpler information and entertainment system, and more interior storage.  Forty percent of owners felt very strongly about wanting it to be easier to get in and out of the vehicle.

AutoPacificIVA Feature copy

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2013 Buick Enclave and Verano Turbo Deliver Style and Power


There was once a time when Buick was synonymous with stodginess—an aging automotive brand out of touch with contemporary luxury car buyers. Then came the Buick Enclave for 2008 model year, a premium mid-size crossover that gave birth to a more exciting, redesigned Buick, providing styling cues that today’s luxury customers demand. So has been the theme of recent Buick entries and revivals, including its latest premium compact entrant, the Buick Verano. And for 2013 model year, Buick has made notable improvements to both Verano and Enclave.

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General Motors’ Failures – Kudos for Trying


General Motors Company (formerly “Corporation”) today is a shadow of its former self.  It sells fewer models through fewer brands since its bankruptcy in 2009.  It is reconstructing itself and building itself into a competitive and profitable car company.  That transformation appears to be going very well.

Over the years, however, General Motors has often tried to be a trailblazer (no pun intended) in new vehicle design and development.  Many of these vehicles failed, but we believe GM deserves a tremendous amount of credit for trying where other companies did not have the creative thought or resources to make a “segment breaking” product.  Here are some examples…

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Chevrolet Traverse – 2013 What Were They Thinking?


We have always liked the General Motors Lambda Platform crossover SUVs (XSUVs).  The Buick Enclave is the most elegant and chrome laden.  The GMC Acadia picks up sheetmetal from the now-dead Saturn Outlook for 2013.  That’s OK.  The Outlook wasn’t bad looking and GM likely saved bundles by using /modifying tooling for the “fresh” Acadia.  The Chevrolet Traverse was the last Lambda launched and was arguably the better looking of the three “mainstream” Lambdas – Traverse-Acadia-Outlook.  It carried the bold crossbar in its grille that has come to clearly identify a Chevrolet when seen in the rearview mirror.

Chevrolet Traverse Front End Goes Plain Jane

Now they’ve gone and ruined it.  For the 2013 mild freshening, Chevrolet has abandoned its bold and distinctive front end appearance for a milquetoast “car” front end look for its crossover.  This fits into the VehicleVoice category of “WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?”

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2012 Buick Lacrosse eAssist: A Premium Sedan with a Boost in Fuel Economy


While the upcoming Buick Lacrosse failed to induce any excitement within the automotive enthusiast in me, I was more than a bit impressed by its new fuel-saving powertrain technology: eAssist. Recently, I had a chance to try out the new 2012 LaCrosse with eAssist through various terrains near San Francisco, both city and winding country roads, in order to witness eAssist in action.

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2011 Buick Regal: Gen Y Please Buy


Buick is in the midst of an identity crisis. According to GM executives, the average age of a Buick buyer is 64 years old and they aren’t getting any younger. With Gen Y kids being the biggest group of consumers behind the Baby Boomers, how can Buick move from grandparents to grandchildren? The 2011 Buick Regal is the answer.
2011 Regal Extfront.jpg

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2011 Buick Regal: First Drive Takes Us Around the World


Buick chose a grand way to celebrate the arrival of their newest model, giving a few the chance to drive the car through its German birthplace. After spending a couple of days in Beijing, visiting the auto show and taking in some time at a local Buick dealer, we flew to Frankfurt to experience the car at GM’s Dudenhof test facility, along the autobahn and German country roads on the way to the Nurburgring, and for one lap each of the famed Nordschweife itself.
You may ask why all this globetrotting for such an American brand. While Buick’s roots are firmly planted in Detroit, China is a far larger market for Buick right now than the United States. In China, Buick outsells Chevrolet, though the gap is small. Buick is on track to sell more than 500,000 vehicles in China this year; in the States, Buick closed out 2009 selling only 102,000 cars. The last time the U.S. market bought up more than 500,000 Buicks in one year was in 1994.
We have the Chinese market to thank for Buick surviving bankruptcy. And for what you will find at Buick dealers today and tomorrow, including Regal, there is reason to be grateful. Today’s Buicks are again graceful, quiet, and responsive and good to drive in a whole new way–they take the brand’s traditional values and express them in modern context.

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Cadillac Wins AutoPacific 2010 Vehicle Satisfaction Award As Top Brand


CadillacLogo2010.jpgCadillac’s owners’ cumulative scores for each Cadillac model in AutoPacific’s 2010 Vehicle Satisfaction research have given Cadillac a win in the race to be best brand overall. Cadillac outpoints Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Lincoln and Buick (top Popular Brand). This is Cadillac’s seventh win in the past eleven years. Winning so often is testament that Cadillac is selling to buyers who really appreciate their vehicles.
The Cadillac Escalade Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle is the only Cadillac winning its class outright, but the CTS, the STS, the DTS and the SRX scored well enough to move Cadillac into overall leadership.
For a complete list of winners and description of the Awards, click here.

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