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% versus last year's score. The bow tie brand was ahead of only Dodge and Jeep. The news isn't all bad for General Motors, though, as truck and SUV-less Saturn posted the industry's largest gain of 4.9 points to get within one point of Toyota and Honda's score of 86. Buick and Cadillac also performed very well in the survey, with each GM brand scoring an 85. Ford was flat year over year, but the Blue Oval's score of 80 was two points lower than the industry average. Lincoln Mercury also saw a big 3.5% 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]