Consumer Car News:7/15/02

July 15, 2002

2002 CSI: POWER SAYS SATURN IS TOPS

2003 Saturn ION

2003 Saturn ION

General Motors’ Saturn division may not have the highest quality or the most vehicles to choose from, but their customers flock to Saturn dealers rather than independent shops for maintenance and repairs because of the great treatment they receive, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ latest customer survey.

Saturn topped J.D. Power's annual Customer Service Index Study, the first time a non-luxury brand has led the pack in dealer service since 1986. Perennial leader Lexus dropped to number three behind Infiniti.

"The overall strength of Saturn's customer satisfaction is a result of white-glove treatment, with easy service appointments, friendly interaction and service personnel and a strong emphasis on consideration for the timely treatment of customers," said John Harbicht, director of service/dealer satisfaction for J.D. Power of Westlake Village, Calif.

The study showed that 77 percent of Saturn owners' spending on routine service and repairs is done at the dealership, compared with the industry average of 64 percent for non-luxury brands. And a much higher percentage of Saturn customers expected to return to dealers for work that the customer would have to pay for.

The survey also showed Volvo moving from 11th to 5th due to improved timeliness in dealing with customers. Porsche improved from "below average" to 13th, largely due to facility upgrades and new service processes. Mercedes dropped from 13th to below average, due to a wave of C-Class customers flooding service bays, making it harder to get appointments and be served in a timely fashion.-Jim Burt

J.D. Power 2002 CSI

 

Saturn

900

Infiniti

897

Lexus

894

Cadillac

890

Volvo

883

Buick

882

Acura

881

Saab

875

BMW

873

Lincoln

868


Toyota, Honda, GM Top Power by Joseph Szczesny (6/3/2002)

 

2002 Ford Thunderbird

2002 Ford Thunderbird

HOT T-BIRD FOR 50th
Look for a hot update of the Ford Thunderbird to mark the car’s 50th anniversary, sources reveal to TheCarConnection. Plans call for the ’05 model to feature a version of the supercharged V-8 currently used by the new Jaguar S-Type R, which means somewhere north of 380 horsepower. The current Thunderbird has taken hits for body shake and handling. But by then, the platform on which the T-bird is based, a hybrid of the S-Type and Lincoln LS, will also be updated, making it stiffer and better handling. This should better position the ‘Bird against performance-oriented import roadsters, such as the Porsche Boxster. Also look for a minor exterior facelift and a markedly more luxurious interior design.­ --TCC Team
2002 Ford Thunderbird by Marty Padgett (12/24/2001)

 

2004 Audi A8

2004 Audi A8

AUDI UNLEASHES ’04 A8
The next generation Audi A8 will feature a more substantial shape, a choice of powerful V-8 engines, and a six-speed, paddle-shifted automatic transmission. The A8, due to be unveiled publicly at the Paris Auto Show in September, will continue to be built on an aluminum space frame. The smaller 3.7-liter V-8 will produce 280 hp; the larger 4.2-liter, 335 hp. Permanent quattro all-wheel drive and a multi-mode air suspension will be standard, as will tire-pressure monitoring. Prices haven’t been announced but the grosser Audi goes on sale in Europe before the end of the year.
2002 Audi S6 Avant by Bengt Halvorson (2/4/2002)

 

2002 Subaru Forester

2002 Subaru Forester

SMALL UTES CRASH WELL
If you’re driving a new Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester or Saturn VUE, you’re driving a vehicle that crashes into offset barriers at 40 mph with aplomb. That’s the word from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which also gives the Japanese wagons “best pick” ratings because of their overall crash goodness. The Land Rover Freelander is “acceptable,” the IIHS adds; the test is considerably more aggressive than the Fed’s 35-mph frontal impact.

 

FEDS LOOKING INTO GM TWICE
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating General Motors in two separate cases for possible recalls. In the first case, the NHTSA is examining 1998 Silverado/Sierra full-size trucks and Suburbans for the possibility of fires in the door panels caused by power-mirror switches. The second investigation also involves GM trucks and vans: the NHTSA is looking at the windshield wipers on 6.7 million GM vehicles built from 1994-1998 to see if an initial recall of 1.5 million Chevy and GMC vehicles went far enough.

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