Strategic Vision has announced the results of its annual Total Quality Awards and is touting the performance of Ford this year versus perennial powerhouse Toyota. Both brands have three vehicles each that lead their segments, which include the Edge, Mustang Convertible and F-250/350 for Ford and Toyota's Yaris, 4Runner and Sequoia. The Volvo C30 also led the Small Specialty under $25,000 segment and the Mercury Sable the Large Car category, while the Scion xB was tops in the Small Multi-Function segment and the Lexus RX350 tied with the Land Rover LR2 in the Near Luxury SUV segment. Though all of those brands are technically owned by either Ford Motor Company or Toyota North America, none were counted by Strategic Vision in the battle of the Blue Oval versus the Japanese Juggernaut, though the automakers still would've tied if they were (if Land Rover were not counted as owned by Ford). Meanwhile, the Medium Car segment was lead by the Volkswagen Jetta, though the new Chevy Malibu jumped to second place (how are the Jetta and Malibu in the same segment?), and Honda had only one car make the list, with the Odyssey being named the best Minivan. Follow the jump to view the leaders of all 19 segments.

While most surveys like this count objective stats like the number of problems encountered during initial ownership, Strategic Vision introduces additional criteria by which to judge vehicle quality like the buying experience, what it's like to own a particular car, its performance and driving and even exterior and interior styling. There's a lot of subjectivity in those additional criteria, which tends to skew the results as a whole regardless of the 20,655 buyer-strong sample pool that was surveyed on the 2008 vehicles it bought during September, October and November of last year. Also, as we were reminded by this post, keep in mind that most automakers are actually clients of Strategic Vision, Ford and Toyota included, so there's also money passing hands between these companies. The appearance of conflicts of interest notwithstanding, new car buyers love lists and automakers work hard to land on them, so you decide for yourself how much weight to give to Strategic Vision's 2008 Total Quality Awards.

[Source: Strategic Vision]


PRESS RELEASE

The 2008 Total Quality Awards™
Ford vs. Toyota: The Battle for Total Quality Intensifies, Reports Strategic Vision

For immediate release - Wednesday, May 28, 2008

San Diego – Toyota and Ford tied for leading in the most segments on Strategic Vision's Total Quality Index™ (TQI), leading with three vehicles each. Toyota lead with its Yaris, 4Runner and Sequoia while Ford lead with the Edge, Mustang Convertible and F-250/350. The San Diego based research firm today announced the 2008 results that are based on the ratings by new vehicle owners in 19 product segments.

Toyota Motor Sales had two additional leaders with the Scion xB and the Lexus RX 350 (which tied with Land Rover's LR2); while Ford Motor Company added two additional wins with the Mercury Sable and Volvo C30. "Ford is back, establishing its vehicle quality in the hearts and minds of its customers," says Alexander Edwards, president of Strategic Vision's automotive division. "The Ford Edge is one of the vehicles Ford can be proud of. By careful attention to key areas such as exterior styling, workmanship and performance, (which are the cues that signal quality for crossover customers), Ford is building vehicles that also build brand equity and perceived customer quality."

The Total Quality Index™ is the premier measure of new vehicle owner satisfaction. It asks buyers to rate all aspects of the ownership experience, from buying and owning to performance and driving. It is much more than simply counting problems. "Innovation and thoughtfulness in functionality and design, keeping in mind how the customer will interact and use the vehicle, is essential," reports Dr. Darrel Edwards, Founder and CEO of Strategic Vision. "Vehicles like the Volvo C30 and Toyota Sequoia are both terrific examples of providing customers with this 'functional luxury' in a very stylish design suggesting quality both on the inside and out."

Mercedes, Honda and Chevrolet brands each had two leaders: Mercedes leading with the S-Class and SL, Honda with the Odyssey and Ridgeline, and Chevrolet with the Corvette Convertible and a tie with itself in full size trucks between the Avalanche and Silverado. From three leads last year, Hyundai took the lead in only one segment this year with its Santa Fe in one of the most competitive automotive segments, the Smaller SUVs. The Volkswagen Jetta, Chrysler 300C and BMW X5 were each TQI leaders. Also worthy of mention is the redesigned Chevrolet Malibu, now second in the highly competitive Medium Car segment.

"Over the past quarter century in the US, customer perceptions of quality of domestic and Asian manufacturers underwent large swings. Today, it doesn't matter if you are a Toyota or a Ford, BMW or Hyundai, each manufacturer has the opportunity and mandate to produce a product with the right Cues of Quality - those product attributes that signal quality and create customer Trust - and present vehicles that have a greater impact on the purchase decision," says Alexander Edwards.

Buyers rated the following vehicles tops in their segments:

Segment Winner(s) TQI Score
Small Car Toyota Yaris 860
Small Multi-Function Scion xB 876
Medium Car Volkswagen Jetta 911
Large Car Mercury Sable 877
Small Specialty Under $25,000 Volvo C30 T5 Hatchback 908
Near Luxury Car Chrysler 300C 927
Luxury Car Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan* 950
Convertibles Under $30,000 Ford Mustang Convertible 896
Convertibles Over $30,000 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible*, Mercedes-Benz SL 940/939
Minivan Honda Odyssey 864
Small SUV Hyundai Santa Fe* 866
Medium Crossover Ford Edge 877
Medium SUV Toyota 4Runner 891
Large SUV Toyota Sequoia 897
Near Luxury SUV Lexus RX 350*, Land Rover LR2 913/912
Luxury SUV BMW X5 907
Standard Pick-Up Honda Ridgeline* 878
Large Pickup Chevrolet Avalanche 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 880/880
Heavy Duty Pickup Ford F-250/350 863

*2007 Total Quality Award™ winner

The Total Quality Index™ was calculated from the responses of 20,655 buyers who bought 2008 models in September, October and November of 2007. Strategic Vision has presented Total Quality annually since 1995.

Since its incorporation in 1989, Strategic Vision has studied consumer and constituent decision-making for the widest variety of clients, including most auto manufacturers, Coca-Cola, American Airlines, Procter and Gamble, as well as for most advertising agencies. Its unique expertise is identifying consumers' motivational hierarchies, including the values that shape perceptions and capture the customers' emotional responses and drive behavior. The firm's in-depth Discovery Interviews and ValueCentered Surveys provide comprehensive, integrated and actionable outcomes.