The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the highest scoring Premium Luxury Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. The S-Class designers really hit the nail on head. Clearly, they understood who the target buyer is and developed a vehicle that met their requirements. Not only does the S-Class win its IVA class, it also was the highest scoring car EVER in AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Award Research for 2014. This gets it AutoPacific's President's Award that has only been awarded one time previously.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA is the highest scoring Premium Compact Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Mercedes-Benz wins in its first foray into the front wheel drive premium small car market. While the CLA begins around $30,000, it can quickly get into the mid-thirties and, with the AMG model, move into the $50,000 range. This year, the Audi A3 was not yet on the market to challenge the CLA. It will be interesting to see if Mercedes can keep its top spot when Audi owners weigh in about their new A3 for 2015.
The AutoPacific 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards objectively measure owner satisfaction with 50 separate attributes ranging from interior comfort and convenience to fuel economy and performance. “Vehicles that score highest in the Vehicle Satisfaction Awards are delivering value and satisfaction across a wide range of attributes,” says George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. “The winners perform well in 50 separate categories that objectively measure the ownership experience.” An industry benchmark for measuring how satisfied an owner is with his/her new vehicle, AutoPacific’s VSA are based on the results of responses from over 92,000 new vehicle owners.
Ford's One Ford strategy dictates that vehicles be as common as possible around the world. While the E-Series has been the top selling large van in the USA for years, it was basically a North America only product. The European Transit van was completely different. Also, the American E-Series never had the breadth of product choices that the European Transit had. Now that has changed with the American-made Transit about as complex as the European model.
The 2015 Lincoln MKC hit Lincoln dealerships in June 2014 and promises to be the 2nd volume entry for Ford's premium brand after the award-winning Lincoln MKZ. Lincoln is the top brand in AutoPacific's 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research and the MKZ and MKZ Hybrid are the winners of their product categories. The MKC is joining a booming market for smaller crossover SUVs and, based on our brief drive of the vehicle, should do very well in AutoPacific's 2015 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research..
Audi A8 in a Smaller Platform For a car that is slightly smaller than the Honda Civic sedan and the Ford Focus sedan, the designed-for-America (and China) 2015 Audi A3 sedan comes across as a premium piece. The A3 previously was a slow selling hatchback. Now adding the three-box notchback with a trunk bodystyle Audi can substantially broaden its appeal in the USA. For decades, American buyers have perceived hatchbacks to have less safety (less rear crash protection – a perception) and less security (from bad guys seeing into the cargo area and stealing what is there). The sedan clears those negative perceptions and gives Audi a strong platform to build the bottom end of its brand.
Has the 2014 Auto Show Season been a bust so far? Well, with the exception of the all new Ford F-150, there has not been much to justify all the fabricated hoopla at either the North American International Auto Show in Detroit or the Chicago Auto Show. You can almost count the significant new news on one hand. In order of importance to the United States market and their manufacturers
Mercedes-Benz has been in a slow launch mode for the new front wheel drive 2014 CLA sedan since the beginning of 2013. The car has just gone on sale and advertising is blanketing the airwaves. So, what's the story? The CLA is Mercedes' price leader in the USA. Mercedes proudly touts its $29,990 base price and admits its attempt to intercept drivers under 35 before they buy their first premium brand car from BMW or Audi. Most CLAs will be priced in the $35,000 range when you get the $2,300 premium package (garage door opener, premium sound w/iPod interface, heated front seats, dual zone climate control) and the $2,370 multimedia package (rear view camera and navigation system). For that mid-thirties price you get a fully featured front wheel drive 4-cylinder four door sedan and the Mercedes three-pointed star.
At this year's Pebble Beach automotive weekend, Lincoln announced its new top of the line - the Black Label editions. There will be four versions of the Black Label but only three were shown at Pebble Beach. Jim Farley, Ford's Group Vice President of Global Marketing and head of Lincoln Motor Company says these are the flagship cars of the brand. Unfortunately, Lincoln's flagships were completely upstaged later in the day when Cadillac showed its Elmiraj concept coupe at Clint Eastwood's Tahama Golf Resort. The Elmiraj was the talk of the town and Black Label became an asterisk.
The ultra-premium Black Label is a combination of product upgrades - primarily to the interior - and special customer service efforts like a personal concierge - to make the Black Label client feel that the premium they undoubtedly will spend is worth it.
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 truck 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 truck buyers an idea of how well manufacturers have designed vehicles with their customers in mind.