Lexus Is the ‘Class’ of Luxury, Yet Strong Moves From Acura and Infiniti Make It a Race
Overall customer satisfaction with automobiles slides 1.3% to a score of 77 (out of 100), according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI®) Automobile Study 2021-2022. A sharp 4% decline in customer satisfaction with the group of smaller luxury and mass-market nameplates puts downward pressure on the industry as a whole.
Japanese and Korean manufacturers improve 1 point, moving into a first-place tie with European manufacturers (unchanged) at 79. Legacy U.S. automakers continue to trail the competition despite a steady score of 77.
Among legacy domestic manufacturers, GM takes the lead, climbing 1% to 78. Ford slips 1% to 76 yet outpaces last-place Stellantis (comprised of the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram nameplates), which dips 1% to 75.
Luxury nameplates grow their lead over mass-market vehicles after surging 2.6% to 80; the latter remains stable with an ACSI score of 77.
“For the auto industry this year, it’s all about luxury brands, with the driver experience improving nearly across the board,” says Forrest Morgeson, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Michigan State University and Director of Research Emeritus at the ACSI. “Luxury plates Acura and Infiniti make a splash with massive customer satisfaction gains, but most mass-market brands falter. Fuel economy is a concern for consumers with high prices at the pump, while chip shortages make mainstream plates hard to come by. Customers may be facing long wait times or settling for models that don’t match their needs.”
Subaru and Toyota top mass-market vehicles
Subaru shares the top spot with Toyota (up 1%) despite slipping 1% to an ACSI score of 80.
Four mass-market nameplates score 78: Chevrolet (up 3%), Hyundai (down 1%), Mazda (down 1%), and Ram (down 3%).
After leading the industry last year, Honda plunges 6% to 77, same as Buick (unchanged), Nissan (down 1%), and Volkswagen (unchanged). Ford (down 3%), GMC (down 3%), Jeep (unchanged), and Kia (down 1%) all score 76, while Dodge stumbles 5% to an ACSI score of 74.
Despite small gains, Chrysler (up 3%) and Mitsubishi (up 1%) share last place at 72.
Among mass-market vehicles, customers are most satisfied with comfort (81), dependability (81), driving performance (81), and vehicle safety (81). However, the latter benchmark dips 1% year over year.
Drivers are least happy with warranties (75) and gas mileage (74), which slip 1% and 3% each.
Lexus lays claim to luxury market, but Acura and Infiniti zoom into contention
Lexus takes sole possession of first place in the luxury segment and the industry overall after improving 4% to an ACSI score of 84.
Acura and Infiniti surge 8% and 9%, respectively, moving into a three-way tie for second with Audi (up 3%) at 82. Cadillac improves 4% to 80, matching Tesla (unchanged) and just ahead of Mercedes-Benz, which increases 1% to 79.
At the bottom of the category, BMW plunges 5% to 77, but outperforms Volvo (76) and Lincoln (75), each retreating 1%.
In terms of the driving experience, luxury vehicles improve almost across the board. Drivers are most pleased with comfort (84), up 2% year over year. Customers are also very pleased with interior (83) and vehicle safety (83), both elements up 1%.
Only two benchmarks sit below 80: warranties (up 1% to 79) and gas mileage (unchanged at 76).