This article was first published on Forbes.com on June 9, 2016
Tesla Tops Auto Brand Satisfaction for Second Year in a Row Tesla owners are the most satisfied overall among all car and light truck owners according to the results of AutoPacific‘s 2016 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. The annual study includes over 65,000 respondents for 2016 and covers 273 vehicles sold in the United States.
Tesla owners are almost unanimous in agreeing the Tesla is fun to drive, powerful, eco-friendly, upscale, safe, distinctive and expensive. These are not people who are really looking for the greenest car around, they want a car that makes a statement and can tear away from almost every other car when the light turns green. The fact that Tesla has been the top-ranking brand in AutoPacific’s research two years in a row is testament not only to how much Tesla buyers like their product, but at how well the brand has been positioned. Of course, Tesla today is a one-car brand and that one car has really resonated with its owners. Things may be different when data for the Model X and Model 3 are included in the years to come.
Other luxury brands trail Tesla. Cadillac, Lexus and Lincoln are next in satisfaction, then comes a surprise.
Kia Top Ranked Popular Brand Kia is ranked fifth overall and is the top popular brand in the research. This is quite a feat for a Korean brand that was just an asterisk fifteen years ago. Clearly, Kia products are capable of competing with the best. The Kia Optima mid-size sedan was third overall behind the Cadillac Escalade Luxury SUV and the Mercedes S-Class Luxury Car. These cost about three times what the Optima would cost. Kia owners see their vehicles as safe, fun to drive, comforting, a good value from a trusted brand. While these attributes are above the results for the industry as a whole, they bear little resemblance to the magnitude of the Tesla results.
Here are the top ten most satisfying brands:
The 2014 Infiniti QX80 is the highest scoring Luxury/Large SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Behind the QX80 are some very impressive competitors: the Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LS, Chevrolet Suburban, Ford Expedition, and the GMC Yukon. This is the second year in a row QX80 has won the VSA for its class.
The 2014 Infiniti QX80 wins or ties in twelve of fifty satisfaction attributes. The QX80 is within one tenth of a rating point in thirteen other attributes. For fifty percent of the satisfaction measurements the QX80 is on top.
The top ten highest ratings by QX80 owners are: vehicle and brand reputation, exterior and interior styling, the overall quality and seating capacity, the perception of reliability and dependability, the vehicles ride, feeling safe while driving, and the exterior color.
In the “This is Getting Boring Category”, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the highest scoring Mid-Size SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. This is the fourth year in a row Grand Cherokee has won the award. The Grand Cherokee edges out some very impressive vehicles such as the Toyota 4Runner, Toyota FJ Cruiser, Jeep Wrangler, and the Nissan Xterra.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee wins and ties in thirty-three of fifty categories. The Grand Cherokee is within one tenth of a satisfaction rating point in ten other attributes. Jeep’s Grand Cherokee led in just over eighty five percent of the satisfaction categories.
The top ten highest ratings by Grand Cherokee owners are: exterior and interior styling, handling and braking, exterior color and size, the feel of the fabrics and materials, feeling safe while driving, the vehicles ride, and that it is fun to drive.
The 2014 BMW X5 is the highest scoring Premium Luxury Crossover SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Just behind the X5 is the Lincoln MKT followed by the Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GL, Porsche Cayenne and the Mercedes-Benz ML.
The 2014 BMW X5 demonstrates its excellence by winning or tying in thirty-seven of fifty satisfaction attributes. The X5 also comes within one tenth of a rating point with seven other satisfaction attributes. For eighty-eight percent of the data, the X5 is at the top.
The top ten highest ratings by X5 owners are: handling and braking, brand and vehicle reputation, fun to drive, safety rating and features, overall quality, the perception of reliability and dependability, and feeling safe while driving.
The all new 2014 Nissan Rogue is the highest scoring Mid-Size Crossover SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction research. Finishing behind the Rogue is the Honda CR-V, Jeep Cherokee, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, and the Mitsubishi Outlander.
The 2014 Nissan Rogue leads its category with twenty-one of fifty wins or ties in satisfaction attributes. The Rouge is also within one tenth of a rating point in seventeen other satisfaction attributes. Leading in thirty-eight of fifty categories, Rogue demonstrates it excellence in the Mid-Size Crossover SUV category.
The top ten highest ratings by Nissan Rouge owners are: exterior styling and size, the perception of reliability and dependability, the overall quality and handling, seating capacity, ease of loading and unloading cargo, braking, the vehicle reputation, and feeling safe while driving.
The all new 2014 Toyota Highlander is the highest scoring Premium Mid-Sized Crossover SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. The Highlander finished first against some impressive competitors. Behind the Highlander are the following: Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Edge, Kia Sorento, Toyota Venza, and the Dodge Durango. This is the second year in a row Highlander has won the VSA. It also won in the last year of its previous model. Not bad for a “mature” entry.
The 2014 Toyota Highlander leads its category with thirty-one wins and ties out of fifty attributes. The Highlander also is within one tenth of a rating point with ten other categories. This puts the Highlander at the top with forty-one of fifty satisfaction categories – over 80%.
The top ten highest ratings by Toyota Highlander owners are: the vehicle and brand reputation, the perception of reliability and dependability, fun to drive, seating capacity, ease of loading and unloading, durability, vehicle ride, braking, and feeling safe while driving.
AutoPacific’s opinion of the all new 2014 Toyota Highlander is that it is better in all ways than its predecessor, but it follows the Crossover SUV formula pretty closely and does not particularly break any new ground. One innovative feature is a shelf below the instrument panel spanning the width from the driver’s area to the passenger door. Also fun are Highlander TV ads featuring Sesame Street characters – a clear attempt to attract families with young children to the vehicle. “Mom, let’s buy a Highlander!”
The all-new C7 2014 Chevrolet Corvette is the highest scoring Sports Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Just behind the Corvette is the Porsche Boxster, Mercedes-Benz SLK, Porsche Cayman, MINI Coupe, Nissan 370z and the Mazda MX5. The Corvette has won the Sports Car VSA for three years in a row.
The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette led in wins or ties in twenty-eight out of fifty. The Corvette was also within one tenth of a rating point for nine other attributes. This put the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette hitting the top of the mark in over seventy percent of the satisfaction categories.
The top ten highest ratings by Corvette owners are: handling and braking, exterior and interior styling, power and acceleration, vehicles reputation and image, exterior color and size, and it is fun to drive.
The 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is the highest scoring Hybrid/EV Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle SatisfactionAward research. The MKZ Hybrid finished first against some impressive competitors. Behind the MKZ Hybrid are the following: Buick LaCrosse eAssist, Toyota Avalon HEV, Lexus ES 300h, Infiniti Q50 HEV, and the Kia Optima HEV. The MKZ Hybrid previously won the VSA in the 2011 model year.
The 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid led its category with fifteen wins and ties out of fifty attributes. The MKZ Hybrid also was within one tenth of a rating point with nine other categories. This puts the 2014 MKZ Hybrid at the top with twenty-four of fifty satisfaction categories.
The top ten highest ratings by Lincoln MKZ Hybrid owners are: exterior color and styling, overall quality and handling, the perception of reliability and dependability, the safety rating and features, the interior styling, environmental friendliness, and feeling safe while driving.
While price is not one of the top ten satisfying attributes, the fact that the price for the 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is the same as the V6 model likely goes a long way in creating a warm feeling about the car. Usually, the hybrid version is a substantial price premium above the gasoline powered models.
The 2014 GMC Acadia is the leading Large Crossover SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Coming in behind the Acadia is the Ford Flex, followed by the Chevrolet Traverse and the Mazda CX-9.
In achieving this level of satisfaction, the 2014 GMC Acadia wins in eight categories and ties in eighteen. The Acadia is also one tenth of a rating point in another eighteen satisfaction categories. The Acadia is at the top in over eighty percent of the satisfaction ratings.
The top ten highest ratings by Acadia owners are: seating capacity, exterior styling and color, overall quality and handling, brand reputation, safety rating, interior styling, the perception of reliability and dependability, and feeling safe while driving.
General Motors Lambda entries – GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse – have won the VSA award in three of the past five years with the Ford Flex outpointing them in two of the five years.