2010 Audi A5 / CabrioletEnlarge Photo
2010 Volkswagen TiguanEnlarge Photo
That’s according to the annual Total Quality Index (TQI) report compiled by the market-research firm Strategic Vision. The 2010 Volkswagen Golf, GTI, and Tiguan are all at the top of their segments in this year’s results, announced this week, as are the Audi A5, Q5, and Q7.
Other high-ranking vehicles in TQI include the Toyota 4Runner, though it was the only top-ranked vehicle from Toyota or Lexus this year. Meanwhile Honda had several top-performers, with the Ridgeline, Odyssey, and Civic Coupe all at the top of their respective segments.
Dr. Darrel Edwards, the founder and chairman of Strategic Vision, pointed out that Volkswagen in particular has found such a loyal following by providing the vehicle experience that customers love. “While VoA [Volkswagen of America] may lag on ranked measures of initial quality, the experience with the vehicles is creating a sound customer base,” he said in a release accompanying the results.
Strategic Vision argues that love/desire (as measured by the TQI) and quality (as measured by other metrics) are independent factors. “Simply counting how many problems a vehicle has or design characteristics that buyers do not find completely satisfying or ‘excellent,’ is inadequate when determining why people spend tent of thousands of dollars on a new vehicle,” said Edwards, in a release accompanying the results. “It over-simplifies customers’ processes, characterizing them as simple, non-feeling drones.”
In the study’s bow to traditional metrics, looking at “Things Gone Wrong” per 100 vehicles, GM posted one of the most significant improvements, especially with the Buick brand.
TQI is relevant in pointing out how well the company is doing in delivering the products that customers want—and, in turn, succeeding in the market—the firm argues. It points out that Ford’s sales successes over the past couple of years came as no surprise; the brand performed strongly in the TQI back in 2007, managed to regain traction in the U.S. market through high levels of workmanship, exterior styling, and performance. Through those qualities in its products, it built brand equity and strengthened its image of quality at a time when the domestic brands were getting lots of bad press.
Cars with a high TQI score also have stronger youth appeal, Strategic Vision assesses. The average TQI score for vehicles purchased by those 29 and younger were over ten points higher than for older age groups.