Tesla and the Model S took top honors in AutoPacific's 2016 Ideal Vehicle Awards.

Despite a recent series of high-profile problems, Tesla captured the hearts and minds of its owner group to earn top brand honors on AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Awards.

The EV maker scored the 2016 Most Ideal Brand Overall while GMC took this year’s Most Ideal Popular Brand title. The top vehicle in the survey was the 2016 Volvo XC70, which won in 2011 and 2012 as well.

The awards are born out of the automotive research firm’s survey of vehicle owners 90 days after they purchase their vehicles. They ask them what they would change about their vehicles after having some time behind the wheel.

“By asking vehicle owners if they would change various aspects of their vehicle if given the opportunity, we not only identify problem areas and opportunities for improvement, but we also find out which manufacturers are truly hitting the mark with owners,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific in a statement.

(Tesla’s new master plan calls for pickups, more SUVs and more non-automotive ventures. For more, Click Here.)

Owners are asked about 15 categories, such as ride and handling, interior storage, safety features, technology and power and acceleration.

The GMC Acadia made a favorable impression with respondents in AutoPacific's latest survey, taking top honors its class.

Tesla took the top spot because it outperformed the market by a wide margin in two critical errors: technology and power and acceleration. AutoPacific notes that 17% of vehicle owners want technology in their vehicles that is easier than what they currently have, but only 4% of Tesla owners make that claim.

While 23% of owners want their vehicle to have more power and acceleration, just 9% of Tesla owners apparently feel Ludicrous mode isn’t crazy enough. The Model S was the top premium luxury car this year.

The top performing vehicle overall was the aforementioned Volvo XC70, and it also took the title as the Aspirational Luxury Car.

(Click Here for details about how the battle for truck sales is heating up.)

“The XC70 performed very strongly in several of the 15 areas surveyed, including seat fit, power and acceleration, safety features, interior lighting and visibility,” says Peterson. “With improved technology options and a turbocharged I5 taking the place of the previous V6, it looks like Volvo knew what its consumers wanted.”

The other winners in the passenger car segment include:

  • Large car: Hyundai Azera
  • Luxury midsize car: Lincoln MKZ
  • Midsize car: Kia Optima
  • Premium compact car: Chevrolet Volt
  • Compact car: Volkswagen Golf
  • Economy car: Honda Fit
  • Sports car: Chevrolet Corvette
  • Sporty car: Dodge Challenger

With trucks and utility vehicles being the hottest sellers these days, laying claim to victory in this arena could be valuable. The Subaru Outback, Forester and Crosstrek took top honors in the Premium midsize, midsize and small crossover SUV categories.

The rest of the winners in the light truck categories include

  • Light duty pickup: GMC Sierra
  • Heavy duty pickup: Ford F-Series Super Duty
  • Compact pickup: Chevrolet Colorado
  • Luxury SUV: Cadillac Escalade
  • Large SUV: GMC Yukon/Yukon XL
  • Midsize SUV: Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Premium luxury crossover SUV: Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe
  • Luxury crossover SUV: BMW X3
  • Large crossover SUV: GMC Acadia
  • Minivan: Kia Sedona

Automakers are constantly looking for ways to build a better car, truck or utility vehicle to keep customers happy. However, the survey shows that what customers wanted more of six years ago still hasn’t change substantially.

Six years ago, 27% of new vehicle owners said they wanted more or better storage; today that number is 29%. However, one area is growing: safety. Twenty-six percent of consumers want more safety features, compared to 17% six years ago.

(Tesla plans to improve Autopilot, Musk says. Click Here for more.)

“These data give manufacturers some key areas on which to focus. Manufacturers who know their target consumer and design a vehicle that meets or exceeds those consumers’ expectations can come out on top,” Peterson said.

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