The GMC Acadia – the Denali version shown here – was the “Most Ideal Vehicle” in the new study, according to owners.

The GMC Acadia has been ranked the “Most Ideal Overall Vehicle” in a new study by California consulting firm AutoPacific Inc. Tesla and Land Rover, meanwhile, tied for honors as the “Most Ideal Brand.”

Those are the key findings of the study which queried more than 73,000 new vehicle buyers in the U.S. to measure their response to the market’s latest products. Unlike more traditional studies focusing on quality and reliability, the Ideal Vehicle Awards emphasize the things that excite and delight owners.

“IVAs speak to a vehicle’s layout and design by revealing which vehicles best meet their owners’ needs and expectations,” said George Peterson, AutoPacific founder and president.

(Korean automakers dominate the latest vehicle satisfaction awards.)

This year’s study delivered some real surprises, starting with the naming of the GMC Acadia as the highest-scoring individual product.

The midsize crossover delivered a significant victory for General Motors’ traditional truck brand, GMC also gaining ground in recent quality reports, such as J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study. GMC made big headlines this week, in fact, with the unveiling of its first long-range all-electric model, the Hummer pickup.

The fact that Tesla and Land Rover tied for Most Ideal Brand is equally significant. Neither brand has done well in conventional quality studies. Tesla was ranked dead last in the latest Power IQS and Land Rover has routinely hovered at the bottom in that and other studies focused on problems owners experience.

(Dashboard cameras top list of features motorists want.)

But Tesla and Land Rover also tend to fare far better in terms of the things that please customers. And the Initial Vehicle Awards, or IVA, look beyond defects to consider 14 distinct vehicle attributes, such as design, interior storage and power and performance.

“Tesla, a 2018 Ideal Brand winner, returns to the top by providing owners with an ideal amount of info and entertainment technology, interior storage and power and acceleration,” AutoPacific noted in a news release, adding that, “Land Rover hits the right mark with owners by providing ideal interior quietness, safety features, and center screen size. “

Significantly, the new Land Rover Defender was just voted Motor Trend Utility Vehicle of the Year, and it’s up for several other closely followed awards, including North American Utility Vehicle of the Year.

While the IVA focuses on the things buyers like, this year’s study also revealed some serious problems facing an auto industry increasingly focused on high-tech features for the latest products.

AutoPacific researchers found that only 56% of those surveyed were “content” with the infotainment technology offered on their vehicles. Among the rest, the majority would want something more advanced, while a sizable number would like to make it easier to use their systems. Not surprisingly, older buyers proved more likely to have problems with the technology than those under 40.

“The challenge with info and entertainment technology is in the user interface, as well as the type and amount of content provided,” said Peterson.

Those findings are reflected in a variety of recent quality-focused studies by AutoPacific, J.D. Power and others – where infotainment systems, especially navigation and voice control technologies now generate more owner complaints than anything else.

The 2020 IVAs also found Tesla and Land Rover tied as the Most Ideal Premium Brand, while Volkswagen took honors as the Most Ideal Popular Brand.

(First time out, Genesis tops Power dependability study as Nissan Leaf scores a coup.)

In all, 17 brands built by 11 different manufacturers scored wins in the various individual model segments.

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