AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards results are in. AutoPacific’s awards collect the opinions of OWNERS. There is no subjectivity added by AutoPacific at all.
Truck-Based Traditional SUVs Most Satisfying
As usual, there are expected winners and unexpected losers, but let’s take a look at some overall results that will surprise many of you.
The vehicle type with the highest Vehicle Satisfaction Score is the Traditional Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are truck-based SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade
, Toyota Sequoia
, Ford Explorer
, Toyota 4Runner
, Kia Sorento
, HUMMER H3
and Toyota FJ Cruiser
. In fact, the Toyota Sequoia was the top scoring vehicle – car or truck – in AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction results.
Car-Based Crossover SUVs More Satisfying than Cars, Minivans, Pickups
The second highest scoring category was the Crossover Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are car-based SUVs like the Audi Q7
, BMW X3
, Acura RDX
, Buick Enclave
, GMC Acadia
, Hyundai Veracruz
, Suzuki XL-7
, Ford Edge
, Saturn Vue
, Toyota RAV4
and Nissan Rogue
. Crossovers are the response by the automakers to make more user-friendly SUVs and in 2006 Crossover SUVs began outselling Traditional SUVs… a trend that will not be reversed.
Rated substantially behind SUVs are Cars, Minivans and Pickups.
Clearly, even in times of high and increasing fuel prices, SUVs are here to stay. Their Swiss Army Knife utility guarantees they will be a central part of a high many family fleets in the future. The continuing jihad against SUVs has failed again!
The Nissan Rogue is a small Crossover SUV derived from the Nissan/Renault global C-Class platform – i.e. Nissan Sentra, Nissan Qashqai, Renault Megane. VehicleVoice was given the chance to drive several Rogues in the desert East of San Diego. Here’s the scoop.
Justification for Rogue – It Was Easy to Do
The 4-cylinder-only Rogue begs the question, “Why?” Did Nissan feel they HAD TO add a small Crossover SUV to their lineup to compete with the Honda CR-V? Yes. Is there anything particularly intriguing about Rogue? No. It is another is a plethora of conveniently sized, pleasant to drive, reasonably priced small wagons available with all wheel drive. So, I guess it is OK to call it a “Crossover SUV” because definitions in the segment are very broad.
Rogue’s styling does not turn heads. Its target market is the same one as all the other small wagons – married male in early 30s just starting a family and needing more utility than his previous sporty coupe (or more likely Chevrolet Silverado or Dodge Ram full size pickup) gave him. Not that we are down on the Rogue. It’s just that it doesn’t answer questions much differently from any other small Crossover SUV.
Nissan North America Vice President of Product Planning, Larry Dominique, gives walkaround of new Rogue in San Diego
Conclusion: Nissan had a competent, flexible global platform that could be efficiently stretched from a sedan (Sentra) to a small Crossover. It couldn’t carry a V6, but that’s OK because the class leading Honda CR-V doesn’t have a V6 either. So here we have a low cost program, assembled in Kyushu, Japan that can fill a niche in the broad Nissan lineup.
Saturn’s Stars Finally Align for a Bright Future
Actually, the Opel Antara was introduced in Paris in September, and I’m not really confusing shows. It is a good thing for Saturn there are some solid designs coming out of the Opel/Vauxhall studios, because after having seen both in the tin, we can conclude there is practically nothing different between Opel’s Antara and the Saturn Vue, as was true of the Antara and PreVue concepts. Saturn’s Vue goes on sale in the second quarter of 2007, the fourth all-new Saturn since 2006.
This is not a surprise for industry watchers, or to vehiclevoice.com readers who caught our May article on the Opel Antara and Vue (click here
), but it is still interesting to listen to Saturn talk about their European design. This brand was launched with a specific mission to take on the Japanese imports and find a way to do business differently than GM’s other brands. Instead, Saturn was starved for product and folded back into the mothership. On the bright side, we get the Antara and the Aura (based on the Opel Vectra), and even the Sky has an Opel design relationship, all three good-looking products with the ability to really make Saturn a brand to be reckoned with. These are further supported by the U.S. developed Outlook, and it becomes clear Saturn is gaining steam, regardless of where the products were styled.
Which cars and trucks are planted to the dealer’s floor? In other words, which vehicles take the longest to sell? Who cars? Why does it matter, anyway?
Well, while it may not seem that important to you, it’s critically important to the industry s a whole… from the manufacturese, component suppliers, dealers and quite a few financial institutions. First, if you know the time it takes to sell a vehicle, you know how much it is dragging on the dealer’s floorplanning costs. Floorplanning is the term for the amount it costs the dealer to finance the a vehicle in inventory waiting to be sold. If a vehicle has been hanging around for weeks, he’ll be more likely to deal aggressively to get rid of it. Also, vehicles that have high days supply may be less popular. From that perspective, they may be the ones you want to stay away from.
Your First Look at the 2008 Saturn Vue
General Motors is wisely pairing Saturn and Opel brands to help revive Saturn at a minimal cost, as well as getting Opel a couple of new products just as efficiently. This strategy is being implemented with several new models for 2007 and 2008 model year. We’ve already reported on the Saturn Aura, which borrows from Opel sedans in Europe, and the Saturn Sky, which was takes cues from an Opel concept and shares more than a passing resemblance to the new Opel GT. Next to come to market will be the Saturn Vue and Opel Antara.
These four-door, car-based SUVs were previewed by a concept called the Opel Antara GTC at the 2005 Frankfurt auto show and called the Saturn PreVue at the 2006 New York auto show. Differences between the Saturn concept and the Opel concept were found in the badge; both even sported the same 212HP four-cylinder diesel and six-speed automatic powerplant. Opel will get the production version first, just as they showed the concept first. The Opel Antara goes on sale by the end of the 2006 and gets a formal introduction at the 2006 Paris auto show this September. Ahead of the show introduction, however, Opel has released intial photos. AutoPacific and VehicleVoice are happy to bring them to you.
The 2007 Opel Antara should give us a remarkably accurate peek at the 2008 Saturn Vue. A contemporary and attractive family look is shaping up for Saturn, which the updated Vue should complement nicely, and the inspiration by Opel may prove to be a very smart decision and wise allocation of resources. These two brands can share themes and products more easily than GM’s North American brands. As there is no intention of bringing the Opel brand to the States or Saturn to Europe, there is no need to be concerned with cannibalization of one another’s sales.
We at VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) and the VehicleVoice Blog-o-Rama (http:/.vehiclevoice.com) often feel that we are fighting an uphill battle concerning the use of the word “Crossovers”. This is a term that has come to mean SUVs based on car platforms and mechanicals. That’s fine. However, it is industry jargon that has not been adopted by the public. The media, picking up on industry jargon is forcing the term where no-one needs it.
An SUV is an SUV or Its NOT
Based on our research, it’s simple. American vehicle buyers have categorized vehicles into several basic categories: cars and trucks further subdivided into luxury cars, mid-size cars, economy/compact cars, sports/sporty cars, pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and vans/minivans.
The SUV category seems to be giving folks the most trouble. To a typical vehicle-buyer, an SUV is an SUV is an SUV. There are big ones and small ones, but an SUV is an SUV. Muddying the playing field, however, is the notion of a “crossover”. A Traditional SUV in this more complicated world is a truck-based SUV like Ford Explorer or Toyota Sequoia. A crossover SUV is an SUV based on a car platform, a “unit-body” platform. But people often forget that the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Liberty, Mitsubishi Montero are all based on unit-body platforms but are not car-based. Does this make them a crossover? NO!
Chevrolet Trailblazer… a “real” Truck-Based SUV
Post-Modern SUV… Soft Roader… NOT Crossover
So, it’s pretty muddy. What crossovers need to be are at-a-glance SUVs. The basics of the SUV equation are well known so deviating is a risk. An SUV must have a basic two box bodystyle, relatively tall glass for good visibility, a relatively upright windshield that provides a stiff A-Pillar allowing easy ingress/egress, and a command seating position. At the same time interior roominess and the ability to carry cargo is very important. From our perspective, this most American of vehicle types is very easy to understand but easy for a foreign car company to get wrong.
Pontiac Torrent… Car-Based Post-Modern (Crossover) SUV
Let’s read on about how USA Today recently reacted to the issue of “crossovers”…