George Peterson:

2014 Chevrolet Impala Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award

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mm_gal_item_c2_1.img_resize.img_stage._2General Motors is turning out some darn good cars these days and the 2014 Chevrolet Impala is a good example.  The 2014 Chevrolet Impala is the highest scoring Large Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. The Impala designers, planners and engineers understood who the target buyer is and developed a vehicle that meets their requirements. The 2014 Impala beat out some very impressive competitors in the Large Car category, such as the Hyundai Azera, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus, Buick LaCrosse, and the Toyota Avalon.  George Peterson, President of AutoPacific, says, “When we first saw the new Impala we were impressed with the car’s presence and top-notch execution.  Clearly, Impala owners agree and give it AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award for 2014.”

Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle questionnaire, the Chevrolet Impala led in five satisfaction categories and was within three percentage points of another three.

The top five highest ratings by 2014 Impala owners are: same exterior styling, same cargo space, same interior lighting, same passenger room, and the same wheels as now.

No vehicle is perfect. Impala owners would like to see better driver seat visibility, more power and acceleration, and simpler technology that is easier to use.

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2014 BMW 3-Series GT Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award

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BMW_3series_wallpaper_18_612x383The 2014 BMW 3-Series GT is the highest scoring Aspirational Luxury Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. The planners at BMW have decided that a sub-niche strategy is good and have developed the “Gran Turismo” version of their venerable 3-Series.  The designers and engineers have developed a product that provides owners with 3-Series goodness combined with wagon utility.  The 3-Series GT is at the top against some very impressive aspirational luxury cars such as the Audi A5, Audi A4, Volvo XC70, BMW 1-Series, and the Hyundai Genesis.  The 2014 3-Series GT also won AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award.  Winning both awards in one confirms that the 3-Series Gran Turismo is a very special car.  George Peterson, President of AutoPacific, concludes: “BMW is sub-niching the market with different bodystyles to appeal to a narrower and narrower group of buyers.  With the 3-Series Gran Turismo they have provided a very satisfying product that hits the target buyers’ requirements precisely.”

Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle survey, the 2014 BMW 3-Series GT leads or ties in four satisfaction categories and was within three percentage points of another three.

The top five highest ratings by 3-Series GT owners are: same exterior size, same passenger room, same tires, same wheels, and the same cargo space.  These results confirm that the Gran Turismo buyers, specifically, appreciate the spaciousness and utility the GT bodystyle gives them.

Although the 3-Series GT is at the top there are several things owners would change. Owners would like different interior lighting, have better visibility, a more snug driver seat, more or better interior storage compartments and a different information and technology center.

There is a story to be told with the information and entertainment system. BMW was one of the first to implement the Human Machine Interface (HMI) – or iDrive system. They have continually struggled with their HMI system. While iDrive has improved substantially over the years, for this year seventeen percent of 3-Series GT owners want a more advanced system while twenty-two percent want a simpler one. BMW still has a way to go with their HMI system.

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2014 Ford Mustang Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award

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mst_14_pg_011_ext_fullIn the last year of this generation, the 2014 Ford Mustang is the highest scoring Sporty Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research.  For a car getting long in the tooth, the fact that its owners rate the car so strongly is a testament that the product development team at Ford listened to their consumers and have satisfied their needs for the past five years. The Mustang is at the top against some very iconic muscle cars such as the Dodge Challenger, Chevrolet Camaro, and the import brand sporty cars Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Scion tC, and the Hyundai Veloster.  For the past five years the sporty car IVA has changed hands between the Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro.  It is very interesting that, in the last year of its generation, the Mustang wins for 2014.  George Peterson, President of AutoPacific notes, “That Mustang is able to pull off an Ideal Vehicle Award win in the last year of this generation is impressive.  The breadth of the Mustang lineup and the design execution has led its owners to vote it the most Ideal Sporty Car.”

2014 Ford Mustang owners are satisfied with their vehicle and do not want a great deal of change. Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle questionnaire, the 2014 Mustang led in one satisfaction category and was within three percentage points of four more.  This shows how close the scores were.

The top five highest ratings by Mustang owners are: same exterior size, same exterior styling, same tires, same safety features, and same cargo space as now.

No vehicle is perfect and Mustang owners did want several things changed. Mustang owners want a more advanced information and entertainment system, want it easier to get in and out of, and want more power and acceleration.

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2014 Chevrolet Corvette Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award

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2014-Chevrolet-Corvette-109-mediumThere is no doubt the all new C7 Corvette has recast America’s sports car in ways that ring the buyers’ bells.  The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is the highest scoring Sports Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. The designers, planners and engineers at Chevrolet did an outstanding job listening to what their customers wanted. The Corvette was at the top of its category against some impressive competitors such as the Porsche Cayman, Porsche Boxster, MINI Coupe, Mazda MX-5, Nissan 370Z, and the Mercedes-Benz SLK.  The C6 Corvette previously won the Ideal Vehicle Award for the 2012 model year.  The Corvette has won AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award for the last three years in a row.  George Peterson, President of AutoPacific, says, “Chevrolet has improved the Corvette in all ways.  They have achieved a rare one-two win of AutoPacific’s annual owner-based awards.  Not only is the Corvette satisfying its buyers, but it is also an ideal interpretation of the iconic American sports car.”

The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette owners are satisfied with their vehicle and do not want much change. Of the fifteen categories in the Idea Vehicle survey battery, the 2014 Corvette leads or ties in four satisfaction categories and was within three percentage points or another five.

The top five highest ratings by Corvette are: same exterior styling, same exterior size, same ride/handling, same interior lighting, and same seat fit as now.

Although the Corvette led in its category there are several things owners would change. Owners would like it to be easier to get in and out of the vehicle (they don’t want to crawl out of the driver’s seat with their hands on the ground?), want simpler information and entertainment system, better driver visibility (it’s a sports car, already!), and more power and acceleration (owners of high-powered sports cars always want MORE).

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2014 Ford F-Series SD Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award

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2013_SUPER_DUTY_6507The 2014 Ford F-Series Super Duty is the highest scoring Heavy-Duty Pickup in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. Ford’s Super Duty product development team demonstrates again that they really know what heavy duty pickup drivers want.   The Super Duty beat out a very competitive group of heavy-duty pickups such as the GMC Sierra HD, Chevrolet Silverado HD and the Ram HD.  The Ford Super Duty has won AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award for its class in three of the last five years.  It also has won AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award in three of the last five years.  George Peterson, President of AutoPacific, says, “I just drove the 2015 model year of the Ford Super Duty and it is an impressive piece.  This does not take away from the win of the 2014 Ford F-Series Super Duty in AutoPacific’s research.  Super Duty owners rated it most Ideal Heavy Duty Pickup.  But the 2015 model is even better with a substantially upgraded Power Stroke Diesel powertrain.”

Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle question battery, the 2014 Ford F-Series SD led or tied in nine categories and was within three percentage points of another two.

The top five highest ratings by Super Duty owners are: same exterior size, same cargo space, same exterior styling, same visibility, and the same seat fit as now.

No vehicle is perfect. Super Duty owners are split on the information and entertainment system, fourteen percent wanting more advanced and 19 percent wanting simpler technology. SD owners also would like more power and acceleration, more interior storage, and more distinctive wheels than now.

For 2015, the Super Duty gets a stronger diesel engine with more power and torque.  This will probably satisfy those who want more power and acceleration.  An empty F-250 with this new engine feels like a very, very large sports car.

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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award

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The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the highest scoring Mid-Size SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. The Grand Cherokee product development team has honed their knowledge of what Grand Cherokee buyers want over the years.  The Grand Cherokee has won AutoPacific’s IVA and also the AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award for years in a row.  This is a remarkable feat.  The Jeep Grand Cherokee beat out some impressive group of mid-size SUV’s. Following the Grand Cherokee is the Nissan Xterra, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota FJ Cruiser, and the Jeep Wrangler.  “Is this getting old, or what?” says AutoPacific President George Peterson.  The Jeep Grand Cherokee continues to sweep its category and remains the Ideal Mid-Size SUV.”

The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee owners were very pleased with their vehicles. Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle Award questionnaire, the Grand Cherokee led or tied in nine categories.

The top five highest ratings by Jeep Grand Cherokee owners are: same exterior size, same tires, same wheels, same passenger room, and the same interior lighting as now.

Although the Grand Cherokee is at the top there are several things owners would change. Owners would like more advanced technology, more power and acceleration, easier to get in and out of, and more cargo space.

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2014 GMC Acadia Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award

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The 2014 GMC Acadia is the highest scoring Large Crossover SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. The Acadia designers, planners and engineers understood who the target buyer was and developed a vehicle that meets their requirements. The GMC Acadia is at the top of the large crossover SUV category against an impressive group including the Ford Flex, Chevrolet Traverse, and the Mazda CX-9.  The 2014 GMC Acadia also won the AutoPacific 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award.  “The GMC Acadia came on strong this year winning both AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award and the Ideal Vehicle Award, says George Peterson, President of AutoPacific.  Clearly, General Motors has developed a product that satisfies its owners, GMC dealers provide a satisfying buying experience and owners do not want to change it in any major way.  2014 GMC Acadia owner consider their Large Crossover SUV Ideal.”

2014 GMC Acadia owners do not want a great deal of change with their vehicle. Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle survey, the 2014 Acadia led or tied in four categories and was within three percentage points of eight other categories.

The top five highest ratings by Acadia owners are: same exterior styling, same ride/handling, same wheels, same exterior size, and the same tires as now.

No vehicle can be perfect. Acadia owners did want several things changed. Owners would like more power and acceleration, more interior storage, and better visibility from the drivers seat. Acadia owners also would like an improved information and entertainment center. Fourteen percent of owners would like a more advanced infotainment system while 18 percent would like something simpler.

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AutoPacific 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards Announced

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AutoPacVSAlogo blogOn Monday June 16, 2014, AutoPacific announced its 18th annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards (VSA), identifying the most satisfying 2014 model year vehicles on the market.  Other automotive awards provide information on defects – things gone wrong.  AutoPacific’s research looks at the issue of vehicle ownership in a totally different way – how satisfied a new vehicle is to its owner.  While it’s important to know how well a vehicle is screwed together, it is even more important to learn how well buyers and drivers feel about their vehicle.

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.

For 2014, the most satisfying brands are Lincoln, Top Premium Brand and GMC, Top Popular Brand. The vehicle – car or truck – registering highest overall satisfaction is the new-for-2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class that also wins AutoPacific’s second President’s Award for achieving the highest VSA score ever.  The truck with the highest overall satisfaction score is the new BMW X5 Premium Luxury Crossover SUV.

“With the launch of each new car and truck, carmakers try to improve the product and increase the satisfaction of their buyers,” explains Peterson. “By surveying a substantial number of owners who have purchased a new 2014 model year vehicle, The AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards provide an objective measurement of how well the makers are doing. More than one-third of new vehicle buyers are positively influenced by objective awards based on owner ratings when deciding on a new car or truck.”

The awards in 2014 are much more diverse than they have been in previous years, with no single brand dominating the results.  Multiple top-ranked award winners are:  Chevrolet with four winners; Lincoln with three winners; Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Kia, and GMC with two winners each.

The brands that improved their relative ranking positions in 2014 compared with 2013 are:  GMC moving from 17th to 8th position; Lincoln moving from 6th position to 1st position; Ford moving from 25th to 19th; Chevrolet moving from 21st to 16th.  Brands with the largest drop in position were Volkswagen moving from 16th to 28th position and Jaguar dropping from 7th to 17th.

From a manufacturer perspective, General Motors was tops with seven wins and Ford had four wins.

“AutoPacific 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards help vehicle buyers sort through an increasingly complicated selection of brands and models.  For the 2014 model year, there are 274 models and 32 brands from which to choose a new vehicle.  The VSA clearly shows the buyers which vehicles are at the top of the class they are considering,” says Peterson.

Top 2014 model year performers are:

PRESIDENT’S AWARD FOR HIGHEST VSA SCORE EVER: Mercedes-Benz S-Class

HIGHEST SATISFACTION PREMIUM BRAND: Lincoln

HIGHEST SATISFACTION POPULAR BRAND: GMC

2014 PASSENGER CAR WINNERS:

Premium Luxury Car

Executive Luxury Car

Aspirational Luxury Car

Luxury Mid-Size Car

Large Car

Mid-Size Car

Premium Compact Car

Compact Car

Economy Car

Sports Car

Sporty Car

Hybrid Car/EV

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Lincoln MKS

BMW 3-Series GT

Lincoln MKZ

Chevrolet Impala

Kia Optima

Mercedes-Benz CLA

Kia Soul

Chevrolet Sonic

Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet Camaro

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

2014 LIGHT TRUCK WINNERS:

Heavy Duty Pickup

Light Duty Pickup

Luxury/Large SUV

Mid-Size SUV

Premium Luxury Crossover SUV

Luxury Crossover SUV

Large Crossover SUV

Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV

Mid-Size Crossover SUV

Compact Crossover SUV

Minivan

Ford F-Series Super Duty

GMC Sierra

Infiniti QX80

Jeep Grand Cherokee

BMW X5

Cadillac SRX

GMC Acadia

Toyota Highlander

Nissan Rogue

Hyundai Tucson

Honda Odyssey


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2013 Concours of Elegance – London September 2013

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Concours of Elegance Poster

What better time to visit London than early September when the weather can be anything.  The Owners’ Day of the Concours of Elegance (yes, Concours OF Elegance – it is England, after all) was held on a blisteringly hot day.  Blazing sunshine.  Temperatures near 90-degrees.  The owners and their ladies or gents were hard put to keep a dry upper lip.  This was a three day event and the weather was different on each day.  Following the hot, hot, hot Thursday, it rained on Friday.  Not downpours exactly, but enough to keep the car polishers busy keeping the 60 or so vehicles as pristine as possible.  Saturday was the public day and the weather dried and was overcast.  The cooler weather made the public day better without the blazing heat of the Owners’ Day.

Luckily or unluckily, AutoPacific attended the Owners’ Day reserved for Owners, guests, Owners’ Day Ticket Holders and Media.  Luckily, because we could attend.  Unluckily, because it was so, soooooo HOT.

Having just been to the Pebble Beach Coucours de Elegance in August, the contrast was striking.  Pebble is so over the top that it overwhelms the senses.  The St. James Coucours of Elegance is much less flamboyant, much less overwhelming, but still provides an opportunity to view outstanding vehicles and have a chat with their owners.

It was a day of Royalty.  The owners were first feted at Buckingham Palace and then drove their cars down The Mall to Marlborough House located in St. James where the cars were displayed in the back garden.  The royal patron was HRH Prince Michael of Kent.  The vehicles on display varied widely from old Rolls-Royces to a modern Bentley GTZ Zagato custom coupe.  Here are a few examples:

Hard to get an angle on this American 1934 Duesenberg Model J Willoughby Sedan Limousine

Hard to get an angle on this American 1934 Duesenberg Model J Willoughby Sedan Limousine

1930 Stutz SV16 Weyman Monte Carlo - a famed American marque

1930 Stutz SV16 Weyman Monte Carlo – a famed American marque

1939 Bugatti Type 57C Voll & Ruhrbeck Roadster

1939 Bugatti Type 57C Voll & Ruhrbeck Roadster

1925 Hispano-Suiza Boulogne

1925 Hispano-Suiza Boulogne

1928 Bugatti Type 35B - unrestored beauty

1928 Bugatti Type 35B – unrestored beauty

Bentley GTZ Zagato Custom Coupe - a late entry

Bentley GTZ Zagato Custom Coupe – a late entry

Bentley GTZ Zagato - note the Roofline and Rear Styling

Bentley GTZ Zagato – note the Roofline and Rear Styling

1937 Horch 853 Voll & Ruhrbech Sport Cabriolet, 1936 Mercedes 500K Streamline Roadster in background

1937 Horch 853 Voll & Ruhrbech Sport Cabriolet, 1936 Mercedes 500K Streamline Roadster in background


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North American International Auto Show: Ford Fusion is Serious

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Last week George asked us to share our pre-NAIAS thoughts on what the show might hold for each the VehicleVoice staffers. One of my interests centered on the reveal of the 2013 Ford Fusion, as it represents one for Ford’s single most important vehicles in maintaining momentum with US consumers. Ford’s last mid-cycle refresh of the Fusion, brought considerable attention to the vehicle and increased sales significantly. At NAIAS this week, VehicleVoice got the chance to review a completely updated model, which takes the Fusion to a new level.


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