Award Winner Gets Major Changes After Only Three Years The 2012 Grand Cherokee has been arguably the best affordable “real” SUV on the market since the latest generation was launched for the 2011 model year. The Grand Cherokee was so good that its owners rated it higher enough against its competition to win AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award in 2011 and 2012 AND AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award in 2011 and 2012! This sweep in these tough-to-win owner awards is testament to the excellence of the Grand Cherokee.
Developed in Time of Hardship The 2011 Grand Cherokee was developed during the dark days of the reign of Cerberus Capital Management. Their ownership of Chrysler steered the firm to the bankruptcy courts and a bailout by the U.S. and Canadian government, UAW and CAW. Ultimately, Fiat took control of Chrysler and Jeep and the firm is now prospering. It is surprising that under the eyes of Cerberus, the 2011 Grand Cherokee turned out to be such a good vehicle.
Best Gets Better Like other Chrysler products (Chrysler 300, Chrysler 200, Dodge Charger, Ram 1500), Jeep’s product team has reinvigorated the vehicle but mostly under the skin. The front fascia is new. Taillamps are new. A couple of wheel designs are new. And the interiors are new and much more upscale. Grand Cherokee gets Chrysler’s latest iteration of its excellent and easy to use UConnect system. Gone is the 5-speed automatic transmission replaced by a silky smooth 8-speed unit. A 240HP 3.0L V6 diesel is available for the first time. So, the Grand Cherokee is a substantially upgraded version of the 2011 vehicle. And it works!
Best in Class 2012 Aspirational Luxury Car: Mercedes-Benz C-Class
2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award
The top satisfying car in the Aspirational Luxury Car Class for 2012 is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The C-Class wins not by achieving top scores in many categories in AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award research, but by having a solid performance in most. It is top rated in only one category, Cupholder Design and Size. While this may seem very minor, it is rare for a German vehicle to even think of having a good cupholder. With a possible high score of 5.0 on each of 48 characteristics, owners of the C-Class rated the car 4.7 or higher on several, including: Overall Satisfaction, Vehicle’s Reputation, Brand’s Reputation, Exterior Color, Exterior Styling, Fun to Drive, Reliable/Dependable, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features, and Overall Quality. The lowest satisfaction from owners of the C-Class were in fuel economy, rear seat comfort, cargo capacity and flexible seating.
Best In Class 2012 Premium Mid-Size Car: Volkswagen Passat
2012 Volkswagen Passat Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award
The top satisfying Premium Mid-Size Car is the all-new 2012 Volkswagen Passat. That Volkswagen can pull off this feat in its first year of an all-new design of a car assembled in an all-new assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee is remarkable. It normally takes a couple of years to fine tune the process. The owners of the new Passat gave the car class-leading satisfaction ratings in 21 of 48 attributes that contribute to AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award including: Overall Satisfaction, Exterior Size, Ease of Getting In and Out, Seating Capacity, Rear Seat Comfort, Flexible Seating, Cargo Space, Ease of Unloading Cargo, Image, Power and Acceleration, Fuel Economy, Quality Feeling Controls, Brand of Audio System, Interior Lighting, Environmental Friendliness, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features, Safety Rating, Use of Recyclable Materials, Advanced Powertrain Technology, and Range. With a possible high score of 5.0 on each of 48 characteristics, Passat owners rated the car over 4.6 rating points on: Overall Satisfaction, Exterior Size, Seating Capacity, Reliable/Dependable, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Ratings, and Safety Features. The owners were least satisfied in Tire Brand, Size and Appearance and Collision Avoidance Technology. That Volkswagen can add Passat’s 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Award to its trophy case along side the Motor Trend 2012 Car of the Year Award is an impressive feat for an all-new car.
Best In Class 2012 Luxury Mid-Size Car: Lincoln MKZ
2012 Lincoln MKZ Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award
The top satisfying Luxury Mid-Size Car is the Lincoln MKZ for the second year in a row. The owners of the MKZ gave the car top scores in 11 of 48 attributes contributing to AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. The Lincoln MKZ is the top satisfying car in its class in Rear Seat Comfort, Exterior Color, Braking, Ride, Quietness, Interior Lighting, Infotainment Technology (MyLincoln Touch), Dealership Experience, Use of Recyclable Materials (using soy-based seat foam), Collision Avoidance Technology and Warranty. With a possible high rating of 5.0 on each of 48 characteristics, owners of the MKZ rated the car at 4.6 or higher on several, including: Overall Satisfaction, Exterior Size, Vehicle’s Reputation, Brand’s Reputation, Exterior Color, Handling, Ride, Feeling Safe While Driving, and Overall Quality. Owners were least satisfied with Fuel Economy and Driving Range.
Best in Class 2012 Heavy Duty Pickup: Ford Super Duty
2012 Ford F-Series Super Duty Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award
Owners of the 2012 Ford Super Duty Pickups give the trucks top ratings in twenty-three of forty-eight characteristics measured in AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. This is the second year in a row the Super Duties have won the VSA for its class. The Super Duties get top marks for Exterior Size, Ease of Getting In and Out, Seating Capacity, Driver’s Seat Comfort, Ease of Loading Cargo, Image, Vehicle’s Reputation, Brand’s Reputation, Exterior Color, Exterior Styling, Interior Styling, Feel of Interior Fabrics and Materials, Power and Acceleration, Fun to Drive, Fuel Economy, Ride, Quietness, Instrument Layout, Visibility, Cupholder Design and Size, Overall Quality and Durability. With a possible high score of 5.0 rating points for each attribute, a rating of 4.6 or higher can be considered to be very good. Super Duty owners rate the trucks at 4.6 or higher in: Overall Satisfaction, Exterior Size, Vehicle’s Reputation, Brand’s Reputation, Exterior Color, Power and Acceleration, Feeling Safe While Driving and Overall Quality. Super Duty owners give the pickups satisfaction ratings below 4.0 in six attributes: Flexible Seating, Fuel Economy (even though the SD had the highest rating for this attribute), Cruising Range, Interior Lighting, Environmental Friendliness, Price, Recyclability and Collision Avoidance Technology.