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Lexus, Infiniti & Saturn Stay Atop J.D. Power 1-Year Satisfaction Survey With BC-JD Power-List

July 5, 1994

DETROIT (AP) _ Lexus, Infiniti and Saturn ranked one-two-three for the third year in a row in a widely watched survey of car buyers’ satisfaction after a year’s ownership.

Lexus, Toyota’s luxury car line, had 176 points in the J.D. Power and Associates 1994 Customer Satisfaction Index released Tuesday. Close behind were Nissan’s Infiniti line with 171 and General Motors’ Saturn at 155. Honda’s Acura luxury line and Germany’s Audi filled out the top five.

The survey of 25,000 buyers of new cars ranked their satisfaction with repairs and reliability, and with how they were handled by dealers during the first year they owned their cars. The highest possible score is 202.

A similar Power report based on a survey of 10,000 light truck owners was to be released Wednesday. Industry sources who have seen the truck report said it showed Chrysler and Toyota tied as the highest ranking nameplates in the category, which includes minivans, pickups and sport utility vehicles. Oldsmobile, Mercury and Plymouth completed the top five in the truck survey.

The average score for the industry in the car survey was 135, unchanged from a year ago. Above that average were five U.S. nameplates, six Japanese and six European. Fifteen car lines were below the industry average, with Suzuki at the bottom of the list with 108.

″We’ve noticed a trend of improvement on the part of the European manufacturers, both in the quality of the vehicles and in the way the customers are being handled in the dealerships,″ said J. David Power III, president of the Agoura Hills, Calif., marketing firm. ″We see an increase to where they’re only one point behind the Asians. This is on significant improvements on the part of Volkswagen, Volvo and BMW.″

Overall improvement for the European brands also reflects the fact that Yugo, Renault, Peugeot and Sterling no longer are sold in the U.S. market. Those cars did not compete well on quality or customer satisfaction and they pulled down the European average in earlier surveys, Power said.

The average score for European nameplates was 139, up 30 percent since 1986. For Asian brands it was 140, 18 percent higher than in 1986, and for the domestic Big Three, 132, a gain of 51 percent.

General Motors nameplates averaged 136, the first time in the history of the survey that a U.S. manufacturer average was higher than the industry average. Chrysler brands averaged 128 and Ford was at 125.

″The domestics have increased consistently over the last eight years, and are challenging the Asians as well,″ Power said.

The Big Three average in 1986 was only 94.

Power said it should be expected that newer car lines such as Lexus, Infiniti, Saturn and Acura rank high in such surveys.

″When the manufacturers embark on a new channel, they can be very selective about which dealers they offer the franchise,″ he said. ″Lexus, Infiniti, Saturn and Acura were able to attract dealers who generally ranked in the top 5 percent of all existing dealers in the country in terms of customer satisfaction.″

The survey scores are based 60 percent on owners’ satisfaction with vehicle repairs and reliability, and 40 percent on how they’re handled by dealers, Power said.

The truck survey was weighted 70 percent on repairs and reliability.

Chrysler and Toyota scored 156, followed by Oldsmobile at 146 and Mercury and Plymouth at 142. Toyota and Oldsmobile topped the truck list last year.

The car and truck surveys were among several that J.D. Power conducts annually on vehicle quality and customer satisfaction.

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