Study: Lexus Leads Luxury Class in Satisfaction, Mass-market Vehicles Decline

According to a new study from Ann Arbor’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) Automobile Study 2021-2022, overall satisfaction with the industry is moving backward, sliding 1.3 percent to a score of 77 out of 100.
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Lexus is the leading brand for satisfaction across mass-market and luxury segments. // Courtesy of Lexus
Lexus is the leading brand for satisfaction across mass-market and luxury segments. // Courtesy of Lexus

According to a new study from Ann Arbor’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) Automobile Study 2021-2022, overall satisfaction with the industry is moving backward, sliding 1.3 percent to a score of 77 out of 100.

“For the auto industry this year, it’s all about luxury brands, with the driver experience improving nearly across the board. Luxury plates Acura and Infiniti make a splash with massive customer satisfaction gains, but most mass-market brands falter,” says Forrest Morgeson, assistant professor of marketing at Michigan State University and director of research emeritus at the ASCI.

“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.”

A sharp 4 percent decline in customer satisfaction with the group of smaller luxury and mass-market nameplates puts downward pressure on the whole industry, according to the study.

Among legacy domestic manufacturers, GM took the lead, climbing 1 percent to 78. Ford slipped 1 percent to 76 yet outpaces last-place Stellantis, which dipped 1 percent to 75.

Japanese and Korean manufacturers improved 1 point, moving into a first-place tie with European manufacturers, which saw no change, at 79. Legacy U.S. automakers continue to trail the competition despite a steady score of 77.

Luxury nameplates as a whole grew their lead over mass-market vehicles after surging 2.6 percent to 80; the latter remains stable with an ACSI score of 77.

Among mass-market vehicles, Subaru shares the top spot with Toyota, which is up 1 percent, despite dropping 1 percent to an ACSI score of 80. Four mass-market nameplates scored 78: Chevrolet, up 3 percent; Hyundai, down 1 percent; Mazda, down 1 percent; and Ram, down 3 percent.

After leading the industry last year, Honda plunged 6 percent to 77, which is the same score as Buick, which was unchanged; Nissan, down 1 percent; and Volkswagen, which was also unchanged. Ford, down 3 percent; GMC, down 3 percent, Jeep, which remained unchanged; and Kia, down 1 percent all scored 76. Dodge stumbled 5 percent to an ACSI score of 74.

Despite small gains — 3 percent for Chrysler and 1 percent for Mitsubishi — the automakers share last place with a score of 72. Among mass-market vehicles, customers are most satisfied with comfort (81), dependability (81), driving performance (81), and vehicle safety (81). However, the latter benchmark dipped 1 percent year-over-year. Drivers are least happy with warranties (75) and gas mileage (74), which slip 1 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

In the luxury segment, Lexus took sole possession of first place and the industry overall after improving 4 percent to an ACSI score of 84. Acura and Infiniti surge 8 and 9 percent, respectively, moving into a three-way tie for second with Audi at 82. Cadillac improved 4 percent to 80, matching an unchanged Tesla and just ahead of Mercedes-Benz, which increases 1 percent to 79.

At the bottom of the category, BMW plunges 5 percent to 77, but outperforms Volvo at 76 and Lincoln at 75, each retreating 1 percent.

In terms of the driving experience, luxury vehicles improve almost across the board. Drivers are most pleased with comfort (84), up 2 percent year-over-year and are very pleased with interior (83) and vehicle safety (83), both elements increasing 1 percent.

Only two benchmarks sit below 80: warranties, which are up 1 percent to 79, and gas mileage, which was 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.

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