Automotive awards -- what do they really mean?

Greg Melville of Money Magazine cautions car-buyers to reconsider when they hear and read about vehicle awards. In a new article, he addresses the strengths and weakness of the following award givers point-by-point:
J.D. Power & Associates
Melville finds the organization's consumer interviews for their quality surveys to be top notch. However, he maintains the company's 90-day results are irrelevant, and feels the three year results are more informative to consumers.

Strategic Vision
Surveys on buyers' emotional reactions to vehicles, writes Melville, are best left to the buyer since they'll know if they like the car. Or not. Also, choosing a vehicle based on which award it did not win (Vision has 23 categories!) does not inform buyers about specific details like reliability.

R.L. Polk & Co.
Melville believes people's long-term buying habits do not reveal anything meaningful about a car's quality or desirability (e.g., the Saturn Ion and the Mercury Grand Marquis have high loyalty ratings).

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Despite the different--and changing--methodology of both organizations, car buyers should seriously consider their safety ratings.

More details at the link. Curiously, Melville does not discuss what is arguably the buyer's best-known survey and data collection organization, Consumer Reports.

What do you think of Melville's evaluation?

[Source: Money via]

Related: J.D. Power revamp should swing quality ratings
Consumer Reports Auto: Two dissenting views
TrueDelta questions quality of JD Power methodology

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