Porsche AG and other high-end auto brands performed best in the annual J.D. Power and Associates study of satisfaction after 90 days of ownership, but domestic companies showed improvement.
Porsche topped J.D. Power’s 11th-annual survey that measures performance, layout appeal and customer satisfaction with cars three months after they were driven off the dealers’ lots.
Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln brand was ranked 11th, highest among the domestic nameplates, and two Ford cars were the best in their classes.
Luxury auto makers such as BMW AG’s BMW brand, DaimlerChrysler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, Toyota Motor Co.’s Lexus, Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti and Audi AG, Volkswagen AG’s luxury arm, all finished at the top of the survey, according to results released Wednesday.
The results are important to automakers because cars with better exterior, interior and driving appeal draw customers and sell faster for more money, said Joe Ivers, J.D. Power’s executive director of quality and customer satisfaction research.
Newly launched vehicles also performed better, with consumers less-satisfied with older models or those that have been freshened from previous years, J.D. Power said.
The survey puts pressure on manufacturers, especially domestic companies, to launch their new models without problems, Ivers said.
“Sometimes the domestics tend to age prematurely compared to the other brands,” Ivers said.
Scores for nine of 12 domestic brands in the survey improved from 2005 to 2006, good news for U.S. manufacturers who have been losing market share to foreign competitors.
In the large pickup category, the Nissan Titan took first, while Honda Motor Co.’s Ridgeline was tops in midsize pickups.
In large cars, Hyundai Motor Co.’s Azera won due to its practical interior and exterior designs, besting the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, which have finished strong in past years, Ivers said.
The Suzuki Motor Corp. Aerio won for sub-compacts, while the BMW-owned MINI Cooper was the top compact car.
The Lexus IS 250/IS 350 won the entry premium car class, while the Infiniti M-Series took first in the midsize premium car category.
Ford’s Mustang topped the midsize sporty car category, while the Ford Fusion won the midsize car class.
“The Fusion, I find noteworthy because the domestics for years have shown a lack of innovation in product development of cars,” Ivers said.
Porsche leads in all areas that matter most in the study including exterior styling, driving dynamics, and engine and transmission. The brand was helped by its quality, which ranked No. 1 in J.D. Power’s initial quality survey.
Volkswagen scored highest of brands considered to be nonluxury, finishing 14th overall with strong performances by its new Jetta and Passat models, Ivers said.
J.D. Power, of Westlake Village, Calif., based its APEAL study on responses from more than 63,000 people who bought or leased 2006 models.