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Toyota, GM Dominate Motorist Choice Awards

Hyundai Equus named Popular Luxury Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year.

by on Oct.15, 2015

The Toyota Avalon, one of six Motorist Choice winners for the Toyota and Lexus brands.

Arch-rivals Toyota and General Motors both have reasons to celebrate with the announcement of the annual Motorist Choice Awards. The two makers outranked the rest of the competition in terms of both customer satisfaction and low vehicle operating costs. Together, they landed nearly half of this year’s trophies.

The Motor Choice Awards are a joint project teaming consultancies AutoPacific, Inc., and IntelliChoice. First launched 10 years ago, the awards try to balance touchy-feely customer satisfaction rankings against hard vehicle cost of ownership data.

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Beyond the overall winners, there were 23 separate category choices split up among 13 separate brands and 10 manufacturers. Toyota was the overall winner, with more wins than any other manufacturer, split between its Toyota and Lexus brands. These included the Toyota Avalon HEV, named best Large Car, and the Lexus RX, named best Luxury Crossover.


Motorists Like Concept but Still Wary of Autonomous Vehicles

Less than a third of U.S. drivers want to own a self-driving car.

by on Dec.03, 2014

Less than one in three drivers are interested in owning a self-driving vehicle, but of those who want one, they're will to pay an extra $4,000.

The vast majority of American motorists are aware that a new generation of autonomous vehicles will soon take to the highways. While they like the idea of being able to lay back and relax, less than one in three drivers say they actually would want to own a self-driving car.

Those that would want to buy one would be willing to pay as much as a $4,000 premium, according to a new study by AutoPacific, Inc.

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“Consumers are divided on autonomous driving, just as they are on many other issues facing society,” explained George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. “For some, this technology can’t come soon enough. Others appear to dread it.” (more…)

Toyota Lands Lead in 2012 Motorist Choice Awards

Balancing high customer satisfaction, low ownership costs.

by on Oct.04, 2012

The Toyota Prius V - shown with CEO Akio Toyoda - took one of nine awards for the Japanese maker.

Quality, as most automakers are quick to admit, has become the price of entry in today’s new car business.  And the latest studies suggest that the gap between brands is smaller than ever.  So, what are the factors that really differentiate one brand from another these days?

That’s what the Motorist Choice Awards intend to define.  Created by California-based research firms IntelliChoice and AutoPacific Inc., the balloting is meant to balance high customer satisfaction and low cost of ownership.

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And by those measures, Toyota came out on top for 2012, taken nine of 30 possible awards with its various mainstream and luxury brands, with products including the Scion xD, Toyota Prius V and Lexus CT Hybrid.  European makers such as Mini and Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, scored well in both “Popular” and “Premium” categories.


Ford Tops the List in Latest Motorist Choice Awards

But imports dominate overall.

by on Sep.23, 2011

A Ford expedition rolls off the assembly line at the maker's suburban Detroit truck plant - which was recently converted to build small cars like the Focus.

There seem to be more and more automotive awards every year, and countless studies that try to rank the latest models according to some arcane quality algorithm.  The Motorist Choice Awards aim to pull things together and let owners report on what are not only the highest-quality cars but the ones they’d actually like to own.

And what they told the researchers from IntelliChoice and AutoPacific – who cooperated on this year’s study, the sixth for the Motorists Choice Awards – is that domestic automakers are making steady progress, though imports still dominate.

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Ford is, more than any of the Detroit makers, dominating the domestic revival, the number two U.S. manufacturer capturing four of the 15 popular lifestyle segment awards, more than any other brand.  Its Lincoln brand adds a fifth and sixth trophy, its Navigator capturing the lead among premium-brand “people movers,” while the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid was chosen the most Eco Friendly luxury model.


Porsche Top Brand in New Ideal Vehicle Awards

Ford leads with seven product wins.

by on Aug.16, 2011

Porsche's iconic 911 snags the top rating in the latest Ideal Vehicle Awards.

Porsche topped the chart as the most desirable brand in the latest Ideal Vehicle Awards from AutoPacific, Inc., but Ford claimed victory of its own by capturing more individual segment wins than any other manufacturer.

The annual IVA is an effort by the California consultancy to go beyond traditional automotive quality surveys – which traditionally focus on what are known, in the industry, as “Things-Gone-Wrong,” or TGWs.  These days, there’s a relatively modest gap when it comes to such problems between even the best and worst makers.  So the Ideal Vehicle Awards balance quality problems with the sort of features that surprise and delight customers – such as comfort, ride and handling, fuel economy and performance.

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“This research recognizes the vehicles that owners want to change the least. In other words, the vehicles that already match their owner’s demands,” explained AutoPacific President George Peterson.

Porsche, which typically does well when it comes to classic Things-Gone-Wrong surveys, also topped the Ideal Vehicle chart – for the fourth time since 2008.  But in a significant illustration of how initial quality isn’t always the final word for customers, Chrysler was tops among mainstream brands.  The maker has shown improvement in recent quality surveys – such as the widely-quoted J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey — but still lags the industry average.


Are American Drivers Immune to Fuel Price Hikes?

Buyers are changing driving patterns rather than shifting vehicle choices.

by on Aug.09, 2011

Buyers continue to go for pickups and SUVs - albeit with high-tech engines that can deliver better mileage.

When gas prices first hit $2.50 a gallon, auto industry planners braced for a dramatic shift in the market.  It didn’t happen.  When the pump price first nudged $4, back in the summer of 2008, environmentalists rejoiced, betting that hybrids would replace pickups and SUVs as the vehicles of choice.  Yet after a month or so, most U.S. motorists went right back to the cars and trucks they long preferred.

This year’s run-up in fuel costs has once again led many to anticipate a wholesale shift in demand and indeed, sales of small cars have been gaining ground – but pickups, SUVs, crossovers and muscle cars haven’t exactly vanished from the sales charts – a new study by AutoPacific, Inc. suggesting that despite wishful thinking, Americans have largely grown immune to high fuel prices.

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The consulting firm’s latest Fuel Price Impact Survey concludes that while, “American drivers complain about near historically high fuel prices…few are doing much about it. In fact, choice of what vehicle to buy in the future appears to have decoupled from the price of fuel.”


Motorist Choice Awards Name Cutest, Eco-Friendliest, Most Fun-to-Drive Models

Toyota brands capture one-third of the 30 awards.

by on Sep.23, 2010

Is this the cutest car on the market?

Despite its ongoing problems with safety-related recalls, the various Toyota brands managed to capture 10 of 30 categories in the annual Motorist Choice Awards, easily overwhelming the Japanese maker’s nearest competition.

The fifth annual Motorist Choice Awards, jointly conducted by the market research firm AutoPacific, Inc. and IntelliChoice, is designed to reveal the vehicles US. car buyers see as doing the best job in specific categories – whether it’s driving the kids to soccer practice, improving the environment or simply making the owner look good at the country club.

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“From an emotional standpoint these awards are a reflection of how cars fit into people’s daily lives, the tasks they fulfill on a day-to-day basis and the image people have of their vehicles,” says Charlie Vogelheim, Executive Editor of IntelliChoice. “The cars in these categories not only represent tremendous value, they are also about the image you want to portray to other motorists as well.”


American Automakers Dominate AutoPacific’s “Ideal Vehicles”

Koreans locked out, while Japan fall behind European brands.

by on Jul.14, 2010

The Land Rover brand may have its quality issues, but don't tell that to owners, who declared the Range Rover their ideal vehicle.

In another sign of a potential product renaissance, Detroit’s Big Three automakers dominate the latest “Ideal Vehicle Awards,” put together by the California research and consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc.

Designed to reflect the way owners rate a variety of vehicle attributes, from power to interior design, the awards focus on the cars, trucks and crossovers “owners would change the least,” explains AutoPacific President George Peterson.

The Range Rover is the top-rated vehicle in the 2010 Ideal Vehicle Awards, or IVA, reflecting the overall satisfaction owners reported with bigger vehicles.  But Large Crossover SUVs was, on the whole, the highest-rated segment.  In something of a surprise, the slow-selling Suzuki Kizashi was the top-rated passenger car in this year’s survey – and was also ranked number one in AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Awards, announced earlier this year.

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But Japanese brands fared relatively poorly, on the whole, fielding winners in only five of the IVA’s 27 categories.  Only the Koreans, who failed to take a single segment, did more poorly.  European makers narrowly bested the Japanese with six segment wins.

Considering the historically low performance of Detroit brands in consumer studies, the 2010 IVA is likely to come as a shock to many, with the domestic Big Three landing 16 segment wins.  Ford Motor Co., in particular, was the top-rated popular brand, just ahead of General Motors’ GMC nameplate.


U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Will Recover Slowly

The new consensus says no return to 17-million units in sight.

by on Dec.22, 2009

In a forecast that mirrors one issued last week from the respected Center for Auto Research, a West Coast consulting firm says that the U.S. light vehicle market is expected to close out 2009 at a mere 10.3 million sales, down from 16.1 million sales only two years ago.

This is the lowest industry volume since consultancy AutoPacific began forecasting automotive sales in 1988. The ongoing Great Recession and a jobless recovery will continue to have a negative effect on retail sales of light vehicles.


The industry can look forward to year-on-year recovery during five-year forecast period, but at a relatively gradual pace. In the near term, AutoPacific forecasts industry volume of 11.4 million units in 2010, as unemployment hampers a faster industry sales recovery.


Will New Small Cars, Like Fiesta and Mazda2, Find a Market?

New study suggests it will be a tough sell.

by on Dec.10, 2009

Ford hopes to target an expanding small car market with the 2011 Ford Fiesta, but a new study says the market may be smaller than some makers have hoped.

Ford hopes to target an expanding small car market with the 2011 Ford Fiesta, but a new study says the market may be smaller than some makers have hoped.

This month’s Los Angeles Motor Show brought the launch of an assortment of small cars, including Ford’s new Fiesta and Mazda’s subcompact Mazda2.  Even more downsized offerings will make their debut at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, next month.

Borrowing a maxim from the film, “Field of Dreams,” manufacturers are betting that if they build ‘em, customers will come, especially in an era of costly fuel and new government mileage standards.  But a new study warns that even with an array of attractive new offerings, American car buyers may not be ready to accept small as beautiful.

“Our research shows that, despite what the U.S. Government is telling us, few Americans want to downsize to smaller cars,” says George Peterson, President of the Los Angeles-based consulting firm, AutoPacific, “Finding more buyers inclined to purchase smaller cars will not be easy.”

Small Car News Source!

Small Car News Source!

Exactly how much of the market today is made up by small cars, trucks and crossovers depends on who you ask and how they parse their data.  Ford claims the segment has grown from around 14% in 2004 to nearly 22% in 2008.  But other data show that small car demand has been slipping, again, since fuel prices hit their peak, in July of last year.