Car customer satisfaction fell for the first time in two years, according to the 2013 American Customer Satisfaction Index automobiles and light vehicles report. Over the course of 4,078 random phone and e-mail interviews between April 6 and May 22, the index, based on a scale of 0 to 100, revealed that customer satisfaction with automobiles fell from 84 in 2012 to 83. Domestic autos bring up the rear.
Domestic vehicles, which received an average score of 82, also lost traction in perceived quality, with European automakers ranking 84.7 and Asian brands close behind at 84.1. This is reflected in the scores of the 20 individual automakers counted in the study.
Mercedes-Benz is at the top of the index with a score of 88, up four percent from last year. Lexus relinquished its lead with a score of 87, down two percent from 2012. Third place is a three way tie between Subaru, Toyota and Honda, which all scored 86. Here are the rest of the scores in order: GMC (85), Cadillac (85), Volkswagen (84), Acura (83), Ford (83), Nissan (83), Chrysler (83), Buick (82), BMW (82), Hyundai (82), Kia (82), Mazda (82), All Others (81), Jeep (80), Dodge (79) and Chevrolet (79). It's worth noting that both GMC and Chrysler gained five points from last year.
While it's not a good sign that customer satisfaction went down, the authors of the report explained that it could be due to "greater customer expectations that the automakers are then challenged to meet." But the ACSI says automakers should take the erosion in customer satisfaction as a warning signal: once pent-up demand has subsided, successful brands will keep the customers they have and poach new ones from elsewhere, and customer satisfaction plays a direct role in this relationship.