Study: Buick, Chevy See Increase in Consumer Satisfaction

GM ads helped

While overall consumer automobile satisfaction dropped for a second straight year, two brands saw an increase: General Motor’s Buick and Chevrolet. The findings come from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which said declining customer satisfaction showed scores for automobiles and light vehicles falling 1.2 percent to 82 on a 100-point scale.

The only cars to improve were Chevrolet, with a 4 percent increase, and Buick, with an increase of 1 percent, bringing both U.S. brands up to the industry average of 82.

ACSI found that 16 of 21 brands they track saw declines in overall satisfaction ratings, with imports faring only slightly better than domestic vehicles.

As the only U.S. brands to see an increase, Buick and Chevrolet saw improvement in large part because of GM’s advertising push for those models—despite the active recalls the company is experiencing. (In fact, ACSI found that consumers who had a recalled vehicle overall rated their brand 6 percent lower than consumers of the same brand who did not experience a recall.)

“A considerable investment in Buick appears to be paying off for General Motors,” noted the report. “Sales are up 12.5 percent for the first half of the year—the largest increase for any GM car—led by a surge in sales for Buick Encore.”

Mercedes-Benz saw its ranking drop 2 percent, but, according to ACSI, the brand still has the highest overall score of 86. Subaru dropped 1 percent to a score of 85; Lexus fell 3 percent to match Volkswagen’s unchanged score of 84; and Toyota and Honda each slipped 3 percent to 83. Other changes include Ford, Nissan, Hyundai and Chrysler all coming in with a score of 81; Cadillac dropping a full 6 percent in satisfaction to a score of 80; and the Jeep and Dodge brands ranking last among all brands at 79 and 78, respectively.

“There are two aspects of these findings that are somewhat unusual,” Claes Fornell, ACSI chairman and founder, said in a statement. “The first is that although the domestic car industry has deteriorated in customer satisfaction over the past couple of years, the gap to imports has narrowed due to a weakening of the latter’s customer satisfaction. The other notable finding is that several of the luxury brands do poorly. That didn’t use to be the case, and suggests that consumers now expect more for their money when they pay a premium price.”

To compile the report, ACSI interviewed 4,360 consumers, chosen at random, via telephone and email between April 22 and May 29, 2014. Consumers were asked to evaluate their recent purchases, as well as talk about their experiences with automobiles manufactured by the companies the study tracks. The group follows a wide range of consumer product categories and releases reports detailing each one throughout the year. Automobiles and light vehicles rank sixth overall in consumer satisfaction, according to their statistics.