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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.


Buick, Jaguar Topple Lexus in J.D. Power Dependability Study

Vast gains in reliability give consumers reason to hang onto cars longer. Are differences among brands no longer significant?

by on Mar.19, 2009

Lexus slips to third in the Power Dependability Study, but still scores a best-ever with its 2006 LS430.

Lexus slips to third in the Power Dependability Study, but still scores a best-ever with its 2006 LS430.

Perennial quality leader Lexus was nudged aside by two determined challengers in the latest study of automotive reliability.  Buick and Jaguar led the list of brands that maintain their quality, even after three years on the road, according to the 2009 Vehicle Dependability Study.

The annual study found that Buick and Jaguar are the two new benchmarks in auto reliability, based on more than 50,000 surveys of U.S. motorists driving vehicles from the 2006 model-year.  But Lexus still has reason to be proud.  Four of its models took top honors in individual product categories – including the LS430, ranked number one among “Large Premium Cars.”  In fact, the LS sedan experienced a mere 61 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) on the road, an all-time low, even accounting for changes made to the 2009 VDS survey.

The Dependability Study is one of a series of surveys the California-based Power conducts each year.  Perhaps the best known is the Initial Quality Study, or IQS, which asks owners to report on problems they experience during the first 90 days of ownership.  That’s become a real battleground among manufacturers, and has seen huge improvements, across the industry, in recent years.

Improving long-term reliability, experts stress, is a much more difficult challenge, and according to Power’s product research director, Neal Oddes, it is likely to have a significant impact, not only on the way an owner perceives a brand, but “it is (also) a good indicator of whether a consumer will repurchase a vehicle and recommend it to their friends.”