The price of new vehicles continues to rise but compounding that — assuming you can find the exact model you want — is the fact you’re less likely to be happy with that vehicle — slightly.
Overall customer satisfaction with automobiles is down 1.3% to a score of 77 out of 100 this year, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Automobile Study 2021-2022.
Japanese and South Korean manufacturers generally improved their customer satisfaction by 1 percentage point, moving into a first-place tie with European manufacturers, who were unchanged at 79. The traditional Big 3 U.S. automakers continue to trail the competition despite a steady score of 77.
Among the Big 3 manufacturers, GM takes the lead, climbing 1% to 78. Ford slipped 1% to 76 yet outpaces last-place Stellantis (comprised of the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram nameplates), which dipped 1% to 75.
Higher price, higher satisfaction
Luxury brands maintained and expanded their lead over mass-market vehicles by surging 2.6% to 80; the major economy car segment remains stable with an ACSI score of 77.
“For the auto industry this year, it’s all about luxury brands, with the driver experience improving nearly across the board,” said Forrest Morgeson, assistant professor of marketing at Michigan State University and director of research emeritus at the ACSI.
“Luxury plates Acura and Infiniti make a splash with massive customer satisfaction gains, but most mass-market brands falter. Fuel economy is a concern for consumers with high prices at the pump, while chip shortages make mainstream plates hard to come by. Customers may be facing long wait times or settling for models that don’t match their needs.”
Subaru and Toyota top mass-market vehicles
Subaru shares the top spot with Toyota (up 1%) despite slipping 1% to an ACSI score of 80.
“We are pleased to be recognized by the ACSI as the No. 1 automotive brand in safety, drive performance and service quality — especially because this recognition comes directly from Subaru customers,” said Thomas Doll, president and CEO, Subaru of America Inc. “We understand that safety, quality and dependability are our customer’s top concerns, and we will continue to deliver the top-notch Subaru ownership experience they expect.”
Four mass-market nameplates finished with a score of 78: Chevrolet (up 3%), Hyundai (down 1%), Mazda (down 1%) and Ram (down 3%).
Honda takes a dive
After leading the industry last year, Honda plunges 6% to 77, same as Buick (unchanged), Nissan (down 1%), and Volkswagen (unchanged).
Ford (down 3%), GMC (down 3%), Jeep (unchanged), and Kia (down 1%) all score 76, while Dodge stumbles 5% to an ACSI score of 74.
Despite small gains, Chrysler (up 3%) and Mitsubishi (up 1%) share last place at 72.
Fuel economy is top-of-mind
Among mass-market vehicles, customers are most satisfied with comfort (81), dependability (81), driving performance (81) and vehicle safety (81). However, the latter benchmark dips 1% year over year.
Drivers are least happy with warranties (75) and gas mileage (74), which slip 1% and 3% respectively. This is typical of customer response when gas prices are high, and past history indicates when gas prices ease, consumer concerns about fuel economy drops as well.
Lexus tops luxury brands
Lexus lays claim to the top spot in the luxury market, but Acura and Infiniti are also moving into contention.
Lexus takes sole possession of first place in the luxury segment and the industry overall after improving 4% to an ACSI score of 84.
Acura and Infiniti surged 8% and 9%, respectively, moving into a three-way tie for second with Audi (up 3%) at 82. Cadillac improves 4% to 80, matching Tesla (unchanged) and just ahead of Mercedes-Benz, which increases 1% to 79.
At the bottom of the category, BMW plunges 5% to 77, but outperforms Volvo (76) and Lincoln (75), each retreating 1%.
In terms of the driving experience, luxury vehicles improve almost across the board. Drivers are most pleased with comfort (84), up 2% year over year. Customers are also very pleased with interior (83) and vehicle safety (83), both elements up 1%.
Only two benchmarks sit below 80: warranties (up 1% to 79) and gas mileage (unchanged at 76).
The ACSI Automobile Study 2021-2022 is based on interviews with 4,708 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between July 2021 and June 2022. The ACSI measures and analyzes customer satisfaction with more than 400 companies in 47 industries and 10 economic sectors annually.