Volkswagen, Ford and Chrysler are leaders in the latest quality study that gauges problems found by consumers, how they are addressed and also factors in passion for new vehicles and their features.
Strategic Vision today released the results of its 2012 Total Quality Index study and found the industry as a whole continues to improve, with only 17% of consumers reporting problems with their new vehicles.
Toyota had the fewest reported problems in terms of numbers, their severity and how they are dealt with.
But that is just one aspect of the study. In terms of total quality, which is broadened to include how well quality meets a customer's expectations and delights them, VW was the winner with segment leaders including the Golf, Eos and Tiguan for the VW brand and the Audi A4 and A8.
Ford and Chrysler tied for second place.
Scoring strongly were the Flex and F-Series for Ford.
Chrysler, the most improved brand, scored well with the Dodge Charger, Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Fiat 500 as the small car segment winner for its styling and additional high marks for its sound system.
"The key to success and sales will be products that satisfy the customer's increasingly insatiable need for innovation, and the complete picture of quality," said Alexander Edwards, president of Strategic Vision in a release.
"We point out Total Quality vs. 'Fewest Problems' for a reason. When measuring quality, the complete experience must be part of the calculation and include all the perceptions that influence how people make their decision. For instance, even when just counting problems, perception is involved. One buyer may overlook what another may report. With Total Quality, we factor in all the perceptions that are proven to create the impression of Total Quality; this is ultimately how people think about vehicles and spend money," Edwards said.
Toyota and Honda are strong in their low percentage of reported problems, said Strategic Vision Vice President Christopher Chaney. "It's just that others are doing such a great job also, and they have excelled in providing the kind of innovation that influences perceptions of quality," he said.
"Look at the Chevrolet Volt," Chaney said. "It may not be a sales leader, but those who purchased it were heavily influenced by a number of quality cues that made it a segment leader in Total Quality."
Strategic Vision has released its Total Quality Awards since 1995. This latest quality index was calculated from 45,390 buyers who purchased 2012 models from September to December 2011.
The top vehicles in each segment
Small Car: Fiat 500 Hatchback
Small Multi-Function: Volkswagen Golf
Medium Car: Chevrolet Volt
Medium Multi-Function: Honda Accord Crosstour
Larger Car: Dodge Charger
Near-Luxury Car: Audi A4 sedan
Luxury Car: Audi A8
Specialty Coupe under $28,000: MINI Cooper coupe
Premium Coupe over $28,000: BMW 1 Series coupe and Chevrolet Corvette coupe
Convertible under $30,000: VW Eos
Premium Convertible/Roadster over $30,000: BMW Z4 roadster
Minivan: Honda Odyssey
Small SU: Volkswagen Tiguan
Medium SUV: Jeep Grand Cherokee
Medium Crossover: Ford Flex
Large SUV: Nissan Armada
Near-Luxury SUV: Land Rover Evoque 5-door
Luxury SUV: BMW X6
Standard Pickup: Honda Ridgeline
Full-Size Pickup: Ford F150
Heavy Duty Pickup: Ford F250/350
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