Each year there are several surveys of Vehicle Satisfaction in the United States marketplace. Two of the most respected are from Consumer Reports, the widely read consumer buyer guide and automotive-specialist research company AutoPacific. Consumer Reports results were released on December 22, 2016. AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction results were released on June 1, 2016.
The results are similar in some ways. The differences between AutoPacific’s “Future Consideration” results and Consumer Reports “Would Buy Again” results can be dramatic. AutoPacific’s “Future Consideration” measures owner loyalty. That is what percentage of the brand’s present owners would consider the brand again? AutoPacific also assumes vehicle buyers may be considering more than one brand in the future. This makes the percentage of consumers considering any one brand usually higher than the more definite “will buy” results from Consumer Reports.
Tesla is tops in all three measurements from Consumer Reports and AutoPacific. Then the comparisons diverge dramatically. In AutoPacific’s consideration results, popular domestic brands Ford (4) and Chevrolet (6) are in the top ten. In CR’s “will buy again” results Chevrolet is 9th and Ford is 15th separated by one percentage point. Second ranked in CR’s results, Porsche is 8th in AutoPacific’s consideration. Cadillac is second in AutoPacific’s consideration results but 22nd in CR’s rankings.
An interesting result in AutoPacific’s two measurements is that Ford and Chevrolet are very strongly considered while scoring below the industry average in their vehicle satisfaction scores. This is testament to the strength of their brand image.
So how can consumers use these divergent messages? Compare the brands at the top and the bottom of the list and see where there are similarities. In both Consumer Reports and AutoPacific results, Fiat is at the bottom. Ram, Fiat Chrysler’s truck-only brand has OK results from CR, but is on the bottom of the AutoPacific future consideration results. Hot-selling Jeep is towards the bottom in all the measurements. Should the buyer consider buying a Jeep a risk if owners are hesitant to buy another one? Would a new Jeep get lower satisfaction scores? Infiniti gets a pretty good satisfaction score from AutoPacific, but both CR “will buy” and AutoPacific consideration scores are very low. Something is going on there.
For each brand there is a story. Data compiled by organizations like Consumer Reports and AutoPacific can go a long way in helping consumers fine tune their consideration set when they are in the market for a new car or light truck.