Market Overview

Customer Satisfaction with Cars Is Up, But Tariff Threats Cloud the Horizon, ACSI Report Shows


Customer satisfaction with automobiles and light vehicles rises 1.2
percent to a score of 82 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index's
(ACSI®) scale of 0 to 100, according to the 2018
ACSI Automobile Report
. The top nameplates shuffle as Volvo ties
Lexus for best luxury automaker while Subaru takes over the lead in the
mass market.

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The ACSI demonstrates customer satisfaction with domestic and international automakers. (Graphic: Bu ...

The ACSI demonstrates customer satisfaction with domestic and international automakers. (Graphic: Business Wire)

European cars stand steady at a score of 82 for the highest owner
satisfaction, trailed by Japanese and Korean automakers, which slip to
81. U.S. manufacturers place last at 79 after losing ground for the
second consecutive year.

Among U.S. automakers, Ford holds steady at 81, overtaking first place
after GM dips to 80. Fiat Chrysler improves to 78, but remains in third

While both product and service quality have improved for the industry
overall, this year's rise in driver satisfaction is 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."

Subaru takes the crown among mass-market vehicles

Subaru sheds 1 percent for an ACSI score of 84, good enough for first
place after last year's leader, Toyota, tumbles 3 percent to 83. That
ties for second place with Honda, which improves 2 percent to 83.

Volkswagen is one of the most improved mass-market cars, gaining 4
percent for a score of 82. That follows a number of changes, including
doubling the length of its warranties, investing in new technologies,
and a fuel economy that drivers say is now among the best in the
industry. The automaker's success with consumers is driven largely by
its SUVs, where it's rapidly gaining market share.

Below that, eight companies tie at a below-average score of 80. Among
these are MINI and Ram, both coming in with a score of 80. Buick, Jeep,
and Nissan all hold steady compared to last year. GMC tumbles 5 percent
for the largest drop in the group, while Hyundai falls 4 percent and
Mazda dips 2 percent.

Kia slumps 4 percent to 79, joining Chevrolet (down 2 percent) and
Mitsubishi (up 1 percent). Fiat rises 4 percent to 78, showing the most
improvement along with Volkswagen, but remains near the bottom of the
category. Dodge and Ford tie at 77 but move in opposite directions:
Dodge gains 3 percent while Ford falls 3 percent. Chrysler drops 6
percent to a 74 for a distant last place.

Among mass-market cars, driving performance is up 1 percent to 86, and
both vehicle safety and comfort are unchanged. Dependability, however,
is down. Drivers give slightly lower marks for the look of exteriors
(84), but interiors are unaffected (83). Gas mileage continues to be the
low point at a score of 78.

Luxury vehicles have a new contender

Volvo is the big winner among luxury vehicles, gaining 4 percent for an
ACSI score of 85, tying Lexus (down 1 percent) for first place. This is
a new high for Volvo, the most improved luxury car of 2018. Volvo
reportedly doubled its investment in U.S. operations to $1.1 billion
last year, and it's paying off in customer satisfaction as the nameplate
ties Lexus for top marks in both vehicle safety and comfort.

Lincoln is the top-rated U.S. automaker, up 1 percent to 84. Audi gained
1 percent to 83. Following a raft of recalls, Mercedes-Benz retreats 2
percent to 82, evenly matched with Cadillac, which slips 1 percent, and
BMW, unchanged. Acura rose 1 percent to 81, ahead of Infiniti, which
returned to the bottom of the luxury category at 78.

Luxury car owners note several improvements in the customer experience.
Driving performance is excellent, safety has improved, cars are more
dependable than ever, and both interiors and exteriors continue to
impress (all score an 87). Luxury vehicles also improved slightly in
warranties (83) and gas mileage (78).

The ACSI Automobile Report 2018 is based on 4,649 customer surveys
collected between August 11, 2017 and July 31, 2018. Download the full 2018
ACSI Automobile Report

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information in this release without the express prior written consent of

About ACSI

The American
Customer Satisfaction Index
 (ACSI®) has been a
national economic indicator for almost 25 years. It measures and
analyzes customer satisfaction with more than 380 companies
in 46 industries and 10 economic sectors, including various services of
federal and local government agencies. Reported on a scale of 0 to
100, ACSI scores are based on data from interviews with roughly 250,000
customers annually. For more information, visit

ACSI and its logo are Registered Marks of the University of Michigan,
licensed worldwide exclusively to American Customer Satisfaction Index
LLC with the right to sublicense.

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