According to new data released by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, U.S. auto buyers have become happier with their vehicles over the past 15 years. Between 1996 and 2009, auto customer satisfaction has risen by five percentage points, from a 79% average to 84%, with the bulk of that increase coming in the last five years.
At the top of the current auto industry satisfaction list, we find two of the usual suspects: Lexus and Cadillac. However Buick and Lincoln-Mercury earn the third and fourth spots, with Honda and Toyota -- usually the darlings of such surveys -- clocking in at fifth and seventh, respectively.
All the way at the bottom: Nissan, followed closely by Jeep, both of which underperformed the survey's "All Others" catchall category. Mazda, Dodge, Pontiac, and Kia also ranked poorly in the study, although their 81% satisfaction score is still nothing to sneer at.
ACSI, which is based at the University of Michigan, collects its data by phone interviews with respondents age 18 to 84. According to the company's FAQ sheet, each company's score represents an aggregate of 250 individual phone interviews -- meaning that approximately 5,000 people were interviewed for the auto industry study.
There's a lot of interesting data to be found here, but among the highlights is Hyundai's fairly meteoric rise in satisfaction -- from a lowly 68% in 1999 to a hearty 85% in 2009. That's a jump of nearly 20 points in 10 years, with most of those points added between 1999 and 2001. Perhaps other companies should be taking notes?