Many of Volkswagen's new vehicles continue to be rated worse-than-average by Consumer Reports in reliability, below the industry average in J.D. Power's annual Initial Quality Survey (the latest just released last week), and near the bottom in post-sales service, as gauged by Power's latest annual Customer Service Index (CSI).
Yet, as the latest Total Quality Index from Strategic Vision suggests, Volkswagen owners are among the happiest with the ownership experience. VW placed at the top of the 2009 TQI rankings, along with Ford.
Across the various segments that Strategic Vision breaks models into, Volkswagen had the greatest number of model leaders, for quality of the entire ownership experience, than any other brand—including Jetta, New Beetle, Rabbit, and the new 2009 Tiguan and 2009 CC.
Ford only had one segment leader, the Focus, but the automaker posted a high overall score. Also today, AutoPacific placed Ford at the top among mainstream brands in its Ideal Vehicle Awards. Last year the Michigan automaker tied with Toyota for Strategic Vision's top TQI spot, and the firm noted the automaker's comeback in quality, and brand equity.
GM actually had four segment leaders: Pontiac G8, GMC Envoy, GMC Yukon XL, and Chevrolet Corvette. Its Saturn and Pontiac brands—both no longer part of the automaker's future-product plan—were tied for having the best TQI scores in their price segment.
2009 Dodge Ram 1500 ST
The new 2009 Dodge Ram was another noteworthy high achiever in the 2009 TQI—earning the highest score of any truck over the 15-year history of the study, along with kudos for its interior and storage capability.
The Total Quality Index is different than most other metrics as it has buyers rate all aspects of the ownership experience, rather than counting specific problems at the vehicle or dealership level. "In today's difficult market, the difference between products that generate consideration, build brands and increase sales versus those that do not is often how much delight and love the product generates with its customers," said Dr. Darrel Edwards, the firm's chairman, in a release.
Strategic Vision points to MINI as another example of a brand that ranks high in perceived quality despite an above-average level of specific counted problems. In its price category, MINI is the highest-rated brand in TQI, and it's not surprising that MINI was one of two brands to post increase sales at the start of the recession.
The results are calculated from a survey of 20,101 buyers who purchased 2008 or 2009 model-year vehicles in September to December of 2008.
Here are the segment-by-segment winners (with repeat awards marked with an asterisk):
|Small Car||Ford Focus Sedan|
|Small Multi-Function (MFV)||Volkswagen Rabbit|
|Medium Car||Volkswagen Jetta*|
|Large Car||Nissan Maxima / Pontiac G8|
|Near-Luxury Car||Volkswagen CC / Audi A4 Sedan|
|Luxury Car||Mercedes S-Class*|
|Small Specialty Coupe||Volkswagen New Beetle|
|Premium Coupe||Chevrolet Corvette|
|Entry Utility||Volkswagen Tiguan|
|Medium Crossover||Toyota Venza|
|Medium SUV||GMC Envoy / Toyota 4Runner*|
|Large SUV||GMC Yukon XL|
|Near-Luxury SUV||Infiniti FX / Infiniti EX / BMW X3|
|Luxury SUV||Land Rover Range Rover|
|Standard Pickup||Honda Ridgeline*|
|Large Pickup||Dodge Ram|