Published: September 2, 2014
2014 Buick LaCrosse
By Richard Read, special from The Car Connection
For automakers, there's good news and bad news on the customer satisfaction front.
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the bad news is that new-car buyers are less satisfied with their purchases than they were in 2013 (And to make things worse, 2013 scores were already below those of 2012.)
The good news? Automakers still do a much better job of making people happy than, say, internet service providers.
To compile its 2014 Automobile Report, ACSI interviewed 4,360 car buyers in April and May of this year, asking them to rate their level of satisfaction with their recent purchases.
On the whole, 2014's shoppers were less pleased with their new vehicles than they were last year. Using scores than run from 0 to 100, ACSI's survey participants rated their cars and trucks at an average score of 82, a year-over-year decline of 1.2 percent.
Luxury brand Mercedes-Benz landed at the top of the heap, with a score of 86. However, that's two points below the company's 2013 score of 88. Subaru (85 points, down one), Lexus (84 points, down three), Volkswagen (84 points, same as 2013), and Toyota (83 points, off three) rounded out the top five.
At the bottom of the barrel, there was Acura, which tumbled seven points (more than any other brand) to 77. Dodge (78 points, down one), Jeep (79 points, down one), Audi (79 points, unrated in 2013), and Mazda (80 points, down two) didn't score much better.
The only brands to see improvement this year were Buick (up one point to 83) and Chevrolet (up four points to 82). That put Buick just above the industry average of 82 and Chevrolet on par with it. Of course, what's notable is that Buick and Chevrolet are GM brands, and their customer satisfaction rose even as GM faced significant bad press over its "Switchgate" recall.
Unfortunately for us, ACSI doesn't put forward any hypotheses about why customer satisfaction is sliding. It could be for any number of reasons, but we wouldn't be surprised if it were directly related to automakers' wonky infotainment systems (which consumers really, really don't like).
Still, as we mentioned above, satisfaction with automobiles is high compared to some products and industries. At 82 points, it's on par with full-service restaurants and just above breweries and athletic shoes. Internet service providers, though? They earn a far more meager satisfaction score of 63. We wonder why.
If you like, you can sift through ACSI's data yourself by downloading a PDF here.
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