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VW, Hyundai, Ford Top Total Vehicle Index

American makers gaining traction on imports, study reveals.

by on Mar.20, 2012

The coupe-like CC helps VW score a win in the Total Value Index.

Japanese automakers were shut out of the top three in the latest Total Value Index, which measures the way consumers perceive the overall value of automotive brands and individual products.

The study, which looks at dozens of factors — such as quality, long-term reliability, warranties, fuel economy and standard equipment – found motorists putting Volkswagen at the top of the heap, a sharp turnaround for the German maker.  Hyundai landed on the second rung, followed by third-place Ford.

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Significantly, Detroit’s Big Three landed more individual segment winners – 11 in all out of 23 possible segments – than manufacturers from Japan, Europe or Korea.

This is the first time that has happened in a decade, according to Chris Chaney, head of automotive research for California-based Strategic Vision, suggesting, “This is an important milestone toward the ‘domestic comeback.’”

The Chevy Volt was one of four battery-based vehicles to win their respective segments.

Among the many Detroit winners were the Ford F-Series trucks, which won in both the fullsize and heavy-duty pickup categories, the Dodge Durango, winner in the midsize traditional utility vehicle category and the Chevrolet Volt, which delivered a surprise as the leading model in the midsize car segment.

In fact, hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electric vehicles clearly satisfied their owners.  Collectively, they may account for less than 3% of the U.S. market, but the Volt, Honda Civic Hybrid, Nissan Leaf and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid all won their respective segments.

Nonetheless, Strategic Visions’ chief Alexander Edwards said, “A word of caution to manufacturers is to realize potential buyers are smarter and more empowered with information than ever before. A hybrid needs to make sense for larger sales volumes to occur. Hybrid ownership is still primarily ‘statement’ driven, but things are changing.”

Volkswagen, which topped the list among all manufacturers also landed two segment wins, the coupe-like CC model named top large car and the Jetta SportWagen winning in the midsize multi-function category.

There were four ties, meaning 27 vehicles were best-in-class.  Along with the 11 domestics, European makers set the benchmark in seven categories (with two of those tied).  Japanese products captured just six segment wins.  The Hyundai Tucson wrapped up the list as tops in the entry utility category.

The Total Value Index, which has been compiled since 1995, was calculated this year using responses from 68,088 owners of 2011-model vehicles.

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