Lexus is kicking Mercedes-Benz out of the top spot when it comes to customer satisfaction. In a new survey conducted by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), Toyota’s luxury brand replaces Mercedes with an 84 percent score, a pretty amazing feat when you can consider that overall, automotive customer satisfaction continues to decline.
The survey looks at the past three years of ownership and uses a 100-point scale to organize data collected from owner evaluations. It scores 27 automakers with the majority being big name automakers along with a handful being smaller automakers.
Acura, Honda’s luxury brand, is also one of the only two automakers to rise on the list. Acura went up 8 percent and BMW went up 3 percent to 82 percent.
Toyota and Subaru both experienced a drop and now share a three way tie with BMW for third place. Both Toyota and Subaru are the highest scoring mass market automakers. They are both also foreign made with Ford being the only American automaker to score near the the top with its luxury Lincoln brand.
Of the remaining automakers, 10 kept their score from last year and the rest experienced a drop. Chrysler experienced the biggest drop with a 9 percent decrease to 74 percent, which places it second to last above only its sister brand Fiat.
There is an overall a decrease in satisfaction with an industry wide score of 79 percent, which is the lowest it has ben since 2004.
“Higher prices are clearly hurting car buyer satisfaction, but lower prices also have artificially inflated satisfaction in the years prior. The government’s Cash for Clunkers program helped push driver satisfaction to its highest level ever in 2009 – and heavy discounting as the economy recovered kept satisfaction up for a while. The customer satisfaction levels the auto industry is seeing now are more consistent with historical ACSI data,” says David VanAmburg, ACSI Director.
The recent uptick of recalls, a 40 percent uptick to be exact, among those surveyed is also a factor in the decline in satisfaction.
“While it is true that all cars are now much better than they were 10 to 20 years ago, it is alarming that so many of them have quality problems. The number of recalls is at an all-time high. This should not happen with modern manufacturing technology and has negative consequences for driver safety, costs and customer satisfaction,” says Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder.
The ACSI report, which is based on 4,294 customer surveys collected in the second quarter of 2015, is available for download.