America’s best and worst car brands

Douglas A. McIntyre.

24/7 Wall St.

Auto companies often make use of awards and quality ratings — when they’re good at least — to attract car buyers. The most important brand quality surveys are performed by research firm J.D. Power, Consumer Reports, and the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

The new ACSI survey results are generally bad for the industry.

The new ACSI survey results are generally bad for the industry. The authors of the report said, “Car buyer satisfaction is down for a third straight year as prices rise and recalls continue, according to new data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Customer satisfaction with automobiles falls 3.7 percent to 79 on ACSI’s 100-point scale.” Satisfaction is at its lowest level since 2004.

According to the research firm, “Among 27 nameplates tracked by the ACSI, 15 lose ground in customer satisfaction and only 2 improve from a year ago – both foreign-made. Foreign-made cars have a significant advantage in customer satisfaction and 77 percent of the above-average nameplates in the ACSI are imports. The highest-scoring automakers remain Japanese and luxury brands in general. Considering domestic automakers only, Ford, which includes the Lincoln nameplate, is the sole manufacturer maintaining overall customer satisfaction (81). General Motors (GM) slips to 79 (-3%) and Fiat Chrysler falls to 75 (-5%).”.

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Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) brands, which include Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler and Fiat, did poorly in this survey and also in the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS). However, this has not stopped the parent company from posting strong sales for several years in a row. In other words, it is hard to connect research on quality directly to purchase decisions. In 2014, U.S. Fiat Chrysler sales rose to 2.09 million units from 1.80 million in 2013 and 1.65 million in 2012.

ACSI bases its ratings on 4,294 surveys completed in the second quarter of this year. The new report covers car buyer satisfaction each year from 1995 to 2015. The ACSI provides rankings for a range of industries, including health care, financial services, and the energy sector. The ACSI also produces an annual rating of car brands, which is carefully followed by car companies — and by consumers.

These are the highest-rated car brands:.

1. Lexus.

≫ 2015 ACSI score: 84> 2015 YTD sales: 95,821> YOY Change: 1.2%.

Lexus was created by Toyota (TM) to compete with BMW, Mercedes, Lincoln, and Cadillac in the United States.

2. Acura.

≫ 2015 ACSI score: 83> 2015 YTD sales: 102,002> YOY Change: 12.8%.

Honda (HMC) launched Acura because it did not have a premium car brand in the United States.

3. Lincoln.

≫ 2015 ACSI score: 83> 2015 YTD sales: 56,648> YOY Change: 8.1%.

One of Ford’s (F) oldest brands, Lincoln has struggled in the United States to match sales of German leaders in luxury brands, BMW and Mercedes.

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These are the worst-rated car brands:.

25. Jeep.

≫ 2015 ACSI score: 75> 2015 YTD sales: 474,905> YOY Change: 21.0%.

Due in part to the resurrection of the Grand Cherokee, Jeep is Fiat Chrysler’s most successful division.

26. Chrysler.

≫ 2015 ACSI score: 74> 2015 YTD sales: 195,970> YOY Change: 19.0%.

The Chrysler flagship brand is aimed at the mid market, with most of its sales coming from its 200 and 300 nameplates.

27. Fiat.

≫ 2015 ACSI score: 73> 2015 YTD sales: 250,333> YOY Change: -13.0%.

Fiat Chrysler has tried to sell Fiat as a low priced, high gas mileage car. So far, the company has not had much success.

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