Tuesday

Univ Michigan's Customer Satisfaction Survey Chooses Toyota #1

Since 1994 the University of Michigan's School of Business has been conducting its "American Customer Satisfaction Index" and new results have just been released. For the second year in a row, Toyota came out on top.

The study measures consumer attitudes about businesses and the economy and covers much more than just motor vehicle satisfaction, including such things as government web sites and covering a whole range of goods and services, from appliances to news to search engines, etc. Apple tops the computer list; Dell's #2 ranking was obviously taken before news of their long-term flammable and bursting batteries broke and their 4 million battery recall was announced.

The results can be fascinating. Sometimes surprising, sometimes not.

For instance, other consumer studies have also shown the imports to rank higher in customer satisfaction and quality, so it's no surprise to see this one list Toyota on top. Buick, Honda and Lexus tie for second place. Buick is the surprise there for most people, ranking above every other US make and above the likes of BMW and Mercedes. However, in our experience litigating lemons for nearly 30 years, we'd have to agree with this top 4 ranking.

Historically, we've always seen more consumers complaining about Mercedes and BMW than any Buick model. In fact, the only GM model better than a Buick was the Oldsmobile. Never could figure out why they pulled the plug on the Olds line, which historically seemed to be the best in GM quality.

In the 50's, Chevrolet was touted by Dina Shore to be the ideal average family car and that may explain why their satisfaction rating sits dead center on the industry average (which was an improvement over last year's Chevy rating). Meanwhile, Hyundai has spent the last decade increasing its satisfaction rating by more than 20% and now ties with Cadillac. That's a remarkable improvement for a product that was at the bottom of the list just ten years ago. Obviously someone woke up.

Ford, Jeep and Kia trailed in a tie for dead last on the Satisfaction index. Ford and Chrysler's Jeep have certainly had their share of troubles, but Hyundai's control of Kia has caused huge strides in style and quality in the last few years. I guess they are still trying to shake off that haunting "the Sportage is nothing but a modern Yugo" reputation.

If you're satisfied with your car, then you're ahead of the game. If you've got a lemon, though, check out this Summary of US Lemon Laws and do something about it. You can write a letter to the manufacturer complaining about your lemon. Those complaints made a difference at Hyundai ten years ago, and they can make a difference at Ford and Jeep and Kia today.