The Mercury Milan Hybrid took top honors in the Hybrid Car Vehicle Satisfaction award category. The Milan Hybrid was top rated in such critical areas as fuel economy and environmental friendliness. Its satisfaction was also top in class with respect to innovative technology and vehicle range.
Both standard Sync and the EcoGuide instrument cluster, which provides encouragement for a fuel-efficient driving style and allows customers to adjust the level of feedback they get on their driving habits, likely contributed to the high technology ranking. Whether the challenge of efficient driving or the good dynamics Ford dialled in to the Milan are the reason, the Mercury took best-in-class score for the elusive fun-to-drive category, too.
For a complete list of winners and description of the Awards, click here.
Tustin, California, June 30, 2008 –
An “ideal” is defined as an excellent or perfect example. In the annual Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA), announced today by automotive research and consulting firm AutoPacific, owners rate their new 2008 model year cars and trucks by how close they come to their ideal, as measured by 15 key vehicle attributes. The cars or trucks that owners would change the least are the most ideal.
Cadillac Top Brand, Mercedes-Benz S-Class Top Car, Toyota Sequoia Top Truck and Top Vehicle
Tustin, California, May 29, 2008 – A study released today by noted automotive consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc
. summarizes the results of its 2008 model year vehicle satisfaction research. AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) is an industry benchmark for objectively measuring how satisfied an owner is with their new passenger car or light truck.
In a year that promises to be the toughest in a decade, owner-based awards like AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award will help customers make their purchase decisions.
The brand with the highest satisfaction rating is Cadillac. The vehicle – car or truck – registering highest overall satisfaction in 2008 is the new-for-2008 Toyota Sequoia Large Sport Utility Vehicle. The passenger car with the highest overall satisfaction score is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
There are twenty-eight Vehicle Satisfaction Award categories. At the manufacturer level, multiple top ranked award winners include: General Motors
(eleven categories), Toyota (nine categories), Ford (six categories), Volkswagen
(four categories), Honda
(three categories) and Hyundai
“Cadillac wins the Vehicle Satisfaction Award as the top brand in a close race. Strong satisfaction performance by Cadillac cars and trucks has Cadillac winning over other leading luxury marques including Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Top ranked finishes by Cadillac’s Escalade, CTS and DTS helped cement their industry topping position.”
Peterson continues, “Vehicles that are all new received top rankings in several categories: Cadillac CTS, Honda Accord, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion xD, Toyota Sequoia, Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, Hyundai Veracruz, GMC Acadia, Saturn Vue and Nissan Rogue. These new-for-2008 vehicles were strongly rated by their owners showing that the industry continues to improve as new vehicles are added to the hotly contested American car and light truck markets.”
From a vehicle type perspective, Traditional Sport Utility Vehicles received the highest ratings as a class closely followed by Crossover Sport Utility Vehicles. Peterson says, “Clearly, SUVs continue to be one of the most popular and satisfying vehicle types available in the USA today. Even with skyrocketing gas prices, SUVs are attractive and Crossover SUVs fill the bill for most SUV buyers with better fuel economy.” Cars scored slightly below industry average followed by minivans and pickup trucks.
Montego Gets A New Engine, A New Look, and An Old Name
Having decided that they cannot afford to give up the equity of the Taurus and Sable names, with the 2008MY facelift, these names return (click here for our comments on Ford’s name changes, as the Five Hundred gets renamed Taurus and Freestyle the Taurus X). Ford presented these changes at the 2007 Chicago auto show complete with all the statistics backing up the fact the customers don’t know what Montego is, but they know Sable. To the tune of three times as many consumers recognizing the Sable brand as the Montego brand. At least the name, as this new Sable is nothing like the first twenty years of Sable. In summer 2007, the Sable returns to dealers, and Mercury will have to find another excuse if sales don’t pick up.
What the statistics don’t do is explain why a consumer coming into a Mercury dealer looking for a Sable would not be convinced to buy a Montego or Milan. If Montego sales have been disappointing to Ford, a name change is not the magic wand to fix the problem. Mercury stands a good chance of selling more Sables than Montegos more because of the product changes that come along for the 2008MY than the name game.
The biggest shortcoming of the Montego was its weak powertrain, which was more bland than its styling. In fact, the 2006 Montego won AutoPacific’s first Ideal Vehicle Award by virtue of its great package and ergonomics. With the 2008MY Sable, a 260HP 3.5L DOHC 24v V6 replaces the launch 3.0L V6, gets a six-speed automatic transmission, and delivers this extra power without a decrease in fuel economy. There is an exterior and interior update to go with the name and powertrain changes. Suspension setup doesn’t change, but was revised and retuned, and there is a new power steering system with an intelligent electric pump. All-wheel drive is still offered, but is a new system now that the CVT is gone.
The new front fascia and headlights takes cues from Mariner and Mountaineer, successfully dressing up the Sable. Taillights and rear fascia are also revised, and there’s more chrome to be found. Overall, the exterior changes give the Sable more sophistication than the Montego carried, and the updates to the Sable are the most successful and attractive of the three new models (Taurus and Taurus X also received similar updates). We also notice that Mercury the Sable name in more places and more prominently on this new version than they did Montego badges on that car; Sable is on the rear decklid and both sides of the car. The Montego wore its name only on the rear. That alone will make it easier for consumers to know what they are looking at.
Inside, changes include a revised sound package for much-improved NVH. The options list expands to include Ford’s new voice-activated hands-free in-car communications system, Sync, developed with Microsoft and a standard auxiliary input jack. The Sable also gets optional two-tone interior with contrast stitching, taking a page from the Milan and Fusion’s interior schemes.
The updates to this vehicle promise a more competitive vehicle, with a more interesting exterior look and a powertrain that competes in today’s market. At the end of the day, Sable’s success will be all about the product, just as Montego’s weak sales were all about the product. A good name won’t sell a bad product just as much as a bad name won’t slow sales of a great product.
Every year, Car & Driver, one of the high circulation car enthusiast magazines in the United States, publishes the results of its 10Best awards. The 2006 10Best Cars awards were released in the January 2006 issue of Car & Driver and you can find them on the C&D website at (http://www.caranddriver.com/article.asp?section_id=33&article_id=10354)
Not having looked at the winners prior to writing this blog, VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) staff conjectured about what types of cars Car & Driver would select.
We knew that, being a buff book, they’d select cars that appealed to the enthusiast, maybe throw one or two mundane winners into the mix, be heavy on import marques and generally favor smaller cars. Lets see how accurate we were?
BEST SPORTS SEDAN – Acura TSX
BEST SPORT COMPACT- Audi A3
BEST LUXURY SPORTS SEDAN – BMW 3-Series
BEST PERFORMANCE CAR – Chevrolet Corvette
BEST FULL SIZE SEDAN – Chrysler 300
BEST MUSCLE CAR – Ford Mustang GT
BEST FAMILY SEDAN – Honda Accord
BEST ROADSTER – Mazda MX-5 (Miata)
BEST SPORTS COUPE – Mazda RX-8
BEST LUXURY SPORTS CAR – Porsche Boxster
So, lets see, seven are import brands, 3 of the imports are from Germany and four are from Japan. Mazda picks up two wins with its sports cars.