If you hear some champagne glasses clinking, you might find your local car dealer raising a toast. On Tuesday, the 2018 ACSI Automobile Report was released showing a 1.2 percent uptick in customer satisfaction with automobiles and light vehicles — coming in with a total score of 82 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s scale of 0-100.
Topping the chart’s segments are Ford, Volvo, Lexus, and Subaru.
With a score of 81, Ford took over GM’s first place among U.S. automakers as GM’s point total dipped to 80. Fiat Chrysler got a small bump up to 78 and came in third.
In the tug of war for best luxury automaker, Volvo and Lexus came to a draw for first place.
Among mass-market vehicles, it’s all Subaru with a score of 84, inching out Toyota, the Camry maker, whose satisfaction fell three points and put the brand in a tie for second place with Honda, which improved two points to 83.
American, European, or Asian?
Overall, the European car makers took home the trophy for highest owner satisfaction with a total score of 82, with Japanese and Korean automakers following closely behind with an 81. U.S. auto giants continue to be dwarfed by their international competitors. The Americans lost ground for the second straight year and placed last with a score of 79.
Taking a deep dive into the report, individual company performance — including the “nameplates” within each company — is all over the place.
Case in point is Ford, which “appears to have learned lessons from its experience with recalls; for most Ford drivers, a recall had no adverse impact on satisfaction. Moreover, Ford’s Lincoln nameplate even registers higher satisfaction for customers who experienced a recall,” according to the report authors.
What are car owners most satisfied with?
The survey found that both product and service were the key factors in making its customers happy, a metric that was largely the result of better value.
“Car owners are often highly satisfied—they’ve kicked the tires enough times that they’re happy with their decision when they buy,” said David VanAmburg, Managing Director at ACSI.
“But this year’s improvements might not last. Proposed tariffs on auto imports add to the pressure of rising metal costs for both international automakers and American-made cars using foreign parts. We’ll be watching how the threat of higher prices affects customer satisfaction in the coming year.”
Among mass-market cars, the satisfaction levels didn’t change much. Driving performance is up 1 percent to 86. Vehicle safety and comfort are unchanged. Drivers gave slightly lower marks for the look of exteriors (84), but interiors were unaffected (83). Gas mileage trailed the other factors with a score of 78.
David VanAmburg, managing director at ACSI, says that consumers are putting more thought into their vehicle choice.
“The average consumer puts a higher degree of thought and research into buying a car than say groceries. Because it’s not typically an…