Study: Toyota Tops ACSI, Lexus and Tesla Not Far Behind

The American Customer Satisfaction Index’s new 2022-2023 study shows that following last year’s dip, customer satisfaction with automobiles improved 3 percent to a score of 79 (out of 100), with luxury vehicles continuing to outpace their mass-market counterparts.
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Toyota cars
Based on the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s new 2022-2023 study, Toyota led the way for mass-market vehicles, while Lexus, Tesla, and Cadillac took the top three spots in the luxury category. // Photo courtesy of Toyota

The American Customer Satisfaction Index’s new 2022-2023 study shows that following last year’s dip, customer satisfaction with automobiles improved 3 percent to a score of 79 (out of 100), with luxury vehicles continuing to outpace their mass-market counterparts.

The report indicated that the gap is shrinking, as the mass-market numbers increased 3 percent to a score of 79, while the luxury numbers climbed just 1 percent to a score of 81.

“Satisfaction with the auto industry as a whole has fully rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, and consumer demand is strong despite rising interest rates,” says Forrest Morgeson, associate professor of marketing at Michigan State University in East Lansing and director of research emeritus at the ACSI. “The supply chain kinks that slowed production during the pandemic are starting to wane, and more cars are back in stock. Nearly every aspect of the driver experience — including driving performance, safety, dependability, gas mileage, and warranties — is better.”

This increase is despite higher prices, value perceptions have improved as well. These factors bode well for automakers — and their sales figures — in the second half of 2023.”

Toyota leads mass-market vehicles — and the industry overall — after surging 5 percent to an ACSI score of 84. The automaker’s production system appears to have made it more resilient in the face of pandemic-driven supply chain disruptions, while strong showings for gas mileage, dependability, and quality for the price factor into its successful year.

Furthermore, despite Toyota dealers’ consistently low inventory, about 35 percent of American car shoppers considered purchasing a Toyota — more than any other car brand on the market.

Last year’s co-leader, Subaru, climbed 3 percent, earning it the second-place spot with a score of 82. Honda (up 5 percent) and Mazda (up 3 percent) are not far behind with scores of 81 and 80, respectively.

Although most mass-market brands see satisfaction spikes, a few go in reverse. Nissan slips 1 percent to 76, Volkswagen falters 3 percent to 75, and Jeep (down 3 percent) and Ram (down 5 percent) stumble to 74.

The bottom spot, however, belongs to Chrysler, which dips 1 percent to an ACSI score of 71.

Lexus remains first among luxury automakers — but it’s not alone. After sliding 1 percent to 83, the company now shares the top spot with Tesla, which accelerated 4 percent, and Cadillac is not far off the lead, up 3 percent to 82.

Audi (down 2 percent), BMW (up 4 percent), and Mercedes-Benz (up 1 percent) all scored 80. After tying for second last year, Acura finishes last, sliding 4 percent to an ACSI score of 79.

More and more younger buyers are choosing luxury vehicles, and they are much more satisfied than younger buyers purchasing or leasing mass-market cars. For survey respondents 26 to 41 years old, satisfaction is 5 points higher for luxury car owners (82) than for mass-market buyers (77) — the widest ACSI gap across age groups.

For these younger buyers, technology is the driving factor. In this area, luxury vehicles live up to the hype: They outperform mass market by a score of 83 to 78.

Drivers of both electric and hybrid vehicles are more satisfied than customers who own or lease gas-powered cars.

But, while states across the country are offering rebates and tax incentives for electric vehicle (EV) adoption — and the federal government aspires to have 50 percent of new vehicle sales be electric by 2030 — EV adoption (and driver experience) still has a long way to go in the U.S.

Automakers are clearly aware that the lack of public chargers is a drawback to EV adoption and are moving significant resources in that direction via an expansive new charging network. However, as ACSI data show, this may not be the only issue for EV sales.

EVs rank last for dependability and customer expectations for reliability, and they have the highest complaint rate. Meanwhile, hybrid owners are happier with more aspects of the driver experience than EV owners, including quality, value, and dependability.

“EVs must improve before automakers can justify the price differential for a broader audience,” says Morgeson. “Early EV adopters find these vehicles perform well relative to their expectations, yet ACSI data show they are only superior in technology and warranties. That is not enough to convince more consumers to leave gas in the past.”

The study is based on interviews with 8,941 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between July 2022 and June 2023.

To see the full report, visit here.