Video: Auto appeal

updated 6/28/2007 2:02:24 PM ET 2007-06-28T18:02:24

Four Honda models topped the rankings for their vehicle segments in an annual J.D. Power and Associates customer satisfaction survey of U.S. drivers released Thursday, more than any other automaker.

Honda Motor Co.’s newly redesigned CR-V small crossover sport utility vehicle, Ridgeline truck and Odyssey minivan all topped their segments in the survey, which focuses on the first 90 days of vehicle ownership. The subcompact Honda Fit tied with Toyota Motor Corp.’s Yaris for a top spot.

Mercedes-Benz and BMW AG each had three models atop premium segments. Mercedes-Benz was tops with its midsize E-Class car and large S-class car, and its GL-Class tied for a top spot with General Motors Corp.’s Cadillac Escalade EXT in a segment that includes large luxury SUVs and crossovers. BMW’s 3 Series and 6 Series cars, and X5 midsize crossover SUV all received top rankings.

GM, Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG each had two vehicles atop the rankings, which were divided into 19 segments.

“Scores tend to be highest for models when they are first introduced,” Neal Oddes, J.D. Power’s director of product research and analysis, said in a statement. “It’s essential for manufacturers to get new-vehicle launches right.”

Overall, Porsche AG was the highest-ranking nameplate for a third consecutive year, while the most improved nameplate was Toyota’s youth-focused Scion. BMW was the No. 2 overall nameplate, followed by DaimlerChrysler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, Ford’s Jaguar and Toyota’s Lexus — all luxury brands.

J.D. Power said the survey was good news for the Detroit Three automakers. It said GM had 11 models in the top three in their respective segments, while Ford had four — including the Edge crossover atop its segment. DaimlerChrysler had seven, but the Dodge Charger was Chrysler Group’s sole vehicle to make a top three.

Toyota, including the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands, had eight models in the top three by segment.

The survey, which is in its 12th year, measures “owner delight with the design, content, layout and performance of their new vehicles,” J.D. Power said.

The results, J.D. Power said, also offer a lesson for automakers, who often rely upon discounts and other incentives to boost sales. It says drivers of some of the higher-ranking vehicles in the survey reported getting smaller incentives than those of some of the lower-ranking vehicles.

“It’s important for manufacturers to incorporate those ‘must-have’ features and design elements that will entice buyers, which also reduces the need for large customer cash rebates,” Oddes said

Westlake Village, Calif.-based J.D. Power said the 2007 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study is based on responses gathered by mail between February and May from more than 91,000 people who bought or leased new 2007 model-year vehicles.

The survey is designed to complement J.D. Power’s annual initial quality rankings. Released earlier this month, those rankings showed that Ford supplanted Toyota as leader of the pack, grabbing more individual awards than any other automaker for the first time since 1998, when it tied for the top spot.

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