• Aug 19, 2008
After years of incremental improvement in customer satisfaction, a study from the University of Michigan shows that overall, Detroit automakers have declined versus their Japanese and German rivals. The study, which polls customers with six-month-old to three-year-old vehicles, shows that U.S. automakers have stalled in their quest to improve satisfaction. The problem? Rising gas prices have made truck and SUV customers very unhappy with their vehicles, which reflects negatively in the overall score.
The Chevrolet brand was hit hardest, with scores dropping 3.7 drop in satisfaction, but those Ford brands are still above the industry average score with an 83. Chrysler did very poorly overall, with all three brands scoring under the industry average.

While the Detroit automakers might take note of the unfavorable results, this survey isn't widely published like the ones from J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. Both Ford and GM are faring well in J.D. Power's recent studies, and both are also still showing improvement in Consumer Reports.

[Source: Detroit News]


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  • 27 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Remember that the Japanese mfg (yes, that includes Honda) usually take a year to sell their new models overseas before they sell them here in the US. I saw a new Fit/Jazz in the street in Mexico in January '08-we will get it this fall. Look at resale on 7 series BMW's and Jag's. American mfg's are playing on a very unven playing field.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The cheap lease was the reason why there were still people willing to go to the GM and Chrysler dealerships. Now that they have canceled their lease programs, I think GM and Chrysler might as well just fold and get out of the auto industry.
      • 6 Years Ago
      the average new car buyer does not notice things like "hard plastic feel" or "rough feeling noisy switches" till they read about it in CR.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The average consumer doesn't even read CR. At best they'll look at the little circles, but most go on their own past experiences and word of mouth.
          • 6 Years Ago
          the people that do read CR make sure you know that your car is a POS compared theirs.
      • 6 Years Ago
      HAHAHA! "I bought a Tahoe 2 years ago to commute to work and tote my 1 child around. Now I'm dissatisfied at the milage." This survey is like hitting yourself in the thumb with a hammer then saying you're dissatisfied with the hammer. I am having a really hard time feeling badly for many of the people complaining about gas prices. If you bought a $40,000 and can't afford to fill the tank you are clearly living above your means. $4 gas has been one of the best things to happen recently. It is the only way the buying public will accept smaller more fuel efficent vehicles. The government can pass all the CAFE regs they want but $2/gal kept a lot of Prius on the lot. Now they can't make them fast enough. Hopefully the slide in oil doesnt continue much longer. If oil drops below $3/gal I think many people will pick up the old buying habit of SUVs,trucks, etc. We need another year or 2 of $3.50-$4 gas to continue the current buying shift.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Now, customer satisfaction is a tricky thing. It goes like this.
      I just a bought a BMW/Audi. It was incredibly expensive and I could have a better car since the brake pads on my Audi had to be replaced after 15K miles. I made a horrible mistake. Would I admit it? Of course not.
      Or
      I expected my car to break down 10 times in the first 3 years. It only broke 5 times. Hooray, I'm a satisfied customer.

      Having said that, Japanese cars have always been superior to US made cars in terms of everything that really matters - reliability and build quality. In terms of reliability, Europeans are still lagging behind.

      Even the Germans acknowledge this, look for the TUV's 2008 reliability report. TUV is the largest industrial quality audit body in the world.
      http://www.themotorreport.com.au/3562/mazda2-and-mazda3-dominate-german-reliability-survey/
      http://www.tuvamerica.com/tuvnews/hotnews/pressdetail.cfm?id=1391
      It deals exactly with the cars up to 3 years old.

      Of course, it depends on where the car is made. Mazda 6 (previous generation) sold in Europe is Made in Japan. And it's more reliable than the Mazda 6 made in the USA, although it's essentially the same car. Same'd go for Toyotas and Hondas, although, most of the European models are made in the UK, which is not exactly the place to go in a quest for built quality.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hey, uh, Chris? Yeah, you...the guy who wrote this post...check your facts: "SUV-less Saturn"? Ever hear of the Vue? It's a Saturn. It's an SUV. Saturn even calls it as such on their homepage. They also have a "crossover" which is to SUVs what minivans are to vans...a bit shorter, but otherwise pretty much the same thing. That one's called the Outlook.

      I'm just saying.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The list of automakers that they looked at is fairly short. A lot of significant brands don't show up: Audi, Infiniti, Kia, Land Rover/Range Rover, MINI, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Saab, Subaru, and Volvo.

      I wonder if they didn't have enough responses from owners of these vehicles or if they just neglected to include them.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "...as truck and SUV-less Saturn posted the industry's largest gain of 4.9 points to get within one..."

      Stop right there, Saturn SUV-less? Yeah, if a SUV absolutely has to be body-on-frame to be a SUV, I guess they're SUV-less, but in reality, they've got two vehicles sitting on designed-to-be-SUV (CUV = SUV, regardless of what you think, it's designed with the same principles in mind that SUVs are designed for in this age of suburbania) unibody platforms, Theta and Lambda.

      Chris, I think you need to brush up on... Well, about everything you know/think of the auto industry these days... Oh, and perhaps your neighbour countries, heh.

      ... A shame to be towing with cars, pfft. Yeah, maybe towing with a subcompact because they're not designed for it at all, but there's nothing wrong with carrying the small payload people usually carry at the back of a car rather than a vehicle you don't need (read: a truck).
        • 6 Years Ago
        I tow my boat with a 19 yr old, 98hp, 2600lb fwd honda.
      • 6 Years Ago
      How very petty it seems to give an automaker a bad review because you the consumer can no longer afford the fuel for your vehicle.

      What worries me is not that some companies are being slammed but the people that could stand to lose their jobs from reviews like this one.

      Not to mention, with Chrysler in so much trouble I'm worried about their lineup being scaled down so much that once again, people lose their jobs.

      P.S. Yes, I realise that building better cars would remedy a great deal of this situation.
        • 6 Years Ago
        P.S. Yes, I realise that building better cars would remedy a great deal of this situation.


        Are you serious?????????

        You make it sound like Detroit is completely innocent here, ahh i have news for you FACT...All 3 are known to make cheap cars, Focus and Cobalt are not in the same stratosphere as Civic, Corolla. Now if those two are not even close, Fusion and Malibu are even further away from Accord and Camry.


        Dude, there's a reason that Detroit is losing money big time.....poor product, that is the main reason. And even if they have good product it is either inferior to competition (Malibu vs. Accord or Camry) or as good as product may be it is not what is selling, LAMDAS, PICK UPS and such.

        Many say G8 is a good car, who cares, GM is offering incentives on it because the managment does not know when to bring right product to the market.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I bet they didn't ask anything about resale value, or domestics would be even further behind. 3 year old Saturn? Good luck selling that. 3 yr old Chrysler? Ha. Might as well keep it since it's worth nothing. 3 year old Honda or Toyota? Still worth quite a bit.
        • 6 Years Ago
        In fact, my brother is looking for a used Toyota. The $$ asked is so ridiculous that it is much better to lease or buy a new one. To a certain extent, their resale value will hurt them. He decided to go for a used Focus or Mazda. Hoda and Toyota are overhyped, according to him. He has been a Toyota lover for all of his life.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Not a very good argument...

        First, the Japanese cars generally have a significantly higher sale price, so the residual value should be higher. If you go by percentage of actual sale price retained, the difference isn't very dramatic at all.

        Second, why buy a vehicle you like so little that you intend to sell it before you ever sign the papers? If a buyer trades vehicles that often, they would likely be much better off leasing, which would negate the whole argument.

        Third, just because some sucker will pay more for a Honda badge doesn't make it a better car.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I wasn't referring to just BRAND NEW vehicles, idiots. For example, I purchased my 92 Subaru SVX for $3600 back in 2001. Today it is worth... about $3600. I purchased an 89 Accord with 206,000 miles and a few problems for $500 a few years ago. Today, it is worth... $1500. I purchased an older Prelude for $1600... today it is worth... $1600.

        This works for newer imports as well. Purchase a used Honda Accord for 7 grand, use it for a few years, and it'll be worth 5 grand or so. Do the same with a Pontiac/Chevy/Dodge/Ford and it'll be worth less than 3 grand.

        Resale value SUCKS on domestics, which is one reason I will probably never own one again.
      • 6 Years Ago
      So it's more of a survey of gas price satisfaction?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Sounds more like the buyer's remorse of conspicuous consumption than a customer satisfaction problem with the automakers.

      "I'm really upset that my SUV is an SUV!"
        • 6 Years Ago
        This survey is a crock of Sh*t!!
        • 6 Years Ago
        I guess people need to learn to read a window sticker and MPG figures. Its not as if the brand is at fault, infact the GM brands get good mileage for the type of vehicle and Ford and Chrysler are pretty avaerge.

        It's just that people bought the wrong type of vehicle and are now blaming the manufacturers for it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        My sentiments exactly. They're acting as if GM put a gun to their head to buy the SUV and truck. GM only acted as the public wanted, which for awhile was profitable. Now you've got the big gas guzzler you just HAD to have and it's their fault you're unhappily paying near $100 to fill the damned thing up? Hypocrites...
        • 6 Years Ago
        I agree! This survey is a total crock of sh*t. So is this blog-post! It says "detriot automakers" but then says Ford was "flat", not the same but "flat". See the media bias?

        So this article was about GM and Chrysler dropping, Ford staying the same and as well; ratings are completely tilted because of genre specific models (SUVS and TRUCKS).

        When is someone going to make a ranking system that shows model to model and genre to genre and class to class comparisons and combinations.

        A little off topic but, Sh*t, OF COURSE MPGs are lower for American auto makers, they make F-600s. They're for construction for God's sake. Anything that ANY other maker lacks shouldn't be counted in an apple-to-apples comparison. PERIOD

        Someone remind me not to buy a UM shirt or hat until the current class of UM are gone! I don't want to be associated with the dumb asses.

        Of course, the reporter could have misrepresented info and if so, I do retract everything! :)

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