These are very unusual times for car shoppers and the auto industry. Higher new and used car prices along with low inventories have been frustrating for some. As you might imagine, it's all causing a dip in consumer satisfaction. Last month, we shared that new car consumer satisfaction dipped for the first time since 2014 according to a JD Powers study. Another new also shows a decline. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Automobile Study 2021-2022 finds that overall customer satisfaction with automobiles slides 1.3% to a score of 77 (out of 100) and there was a sharp 4% decline in customer satisfaction with the group of smaller luxury and mass-market segment.
Japanese and Korean manufacturers improve a point this year, moving into a first-place tie with European manufacturers (unchanged) at 79. U.S. automakers continue to trail the competition despite a steady score of 77. Of domestic manufacturers, GM takes the lead, climbing 1% to 78. Ford slips 1% to 76, but still outpaces last-place Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram nameplates), which dips 1% to 75.
Luxury nameplates grow their lead over mass-market vehicles after surging 2.6% to 80; the latter remains stable with an ACSI score of 77.
“For the auto industry this year, it’s all about luxury brands, with the driver experience improving nearly across the board,” says Forrest Morgeson, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Michigan State University and Director of Research Emeritus at the ACSI. “Luxury plates Acura and Infiniti make a splash with massive customer satisfaction gains, but most mass-market brands falter. 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.”
Subaru and Toyota top mass-market vehicles
Subaru shares the top spot with Toyota (up 1%) despite slipping 1% to an ACSI score of 80.
Four mass-market nameplates end up in second place with a score 78:
- Chevrolet (up 3%)
- Hyundai (down 1%)
- Mazda (down 1%)
- Ram (down 3%)
Four mass-market nameplates tie for third with a score 77. Researchers says after leading the industry last year, Honda plunges 6% to 77, tying with Buick (unchanged), Nissan (down 1%), and Volkswagen (unchanged).
- Honda (down 6%)
- Buick (unchanged)
- Nissan (down 1%)
- VW (unchanged)
5 nameplates share a score of 74.
- Ford (down 3%)
- GMC (down 3%)
- Jeep (unchanged)
- Kia (down 1%)
Dodge stumbles 5% to an ACSI score of 74. And despite small gains, Chrysler (up 3%) and Mitsubishi (up 1%) share last place at 72.
Among mass-market vehicles, customers are most satisfied with:
- comfort (81)
- dependability (81)
- driving performance (81)
- vehicle safety (81)
However, the latter benchmark dips 1% year over year.
Drivers are least happy with: warranties (75) and gas mileage (74), which slip 1% and 3% each.
Lexus tops luxury market, but Acura and INFINITI surge
Lexus is number one among luxury automakers, and the industry overall, after improving 4% to an ACSI score of 84.
There's a three-way tie for second place 82.
- Acura - up 8% (82)
- INFINITI - up 9% (82)
- Audi up 3% 82
Cadillac improves 4% to 80, matching Tesla (unchanged) and just ahead of Mercedes-Benz, which increases 1% to 79.
At the bottom of the category, BMW plunges 5% to 77, but still outperforms Volvo (76) and Lincoln (75), each retreating 1%.
In terms of the driving experience, luxury vehicles improve almost across the board. Drivers are most pleased with:
- comfort (84), up 2% year over year.
- interior (83) and vehicle safety (83), both elements up 1%.
Only two benchmarks sit below 80: warranties (up 1% to 79) and gas mileage (unchanged at 76). (Check out The Car Pro Jerry Reynolds articles about extended warranties here.)
About the Study
The ACSI Automobile Study 2021-2022 says it's based on interviews with 4,708 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between July 2021 and June 2022.