The Results Are In: American Cars Come With Crappy Customer Satisfaction

The American Consumer Satisfaction Index released it’s Q2 results today and the news isn’t good for domestic car manufacturers. The folks at the ASCI say that customer satisfaction for the entire industry is at an all time high — but no American car companies are represented in the top four — and the bottom three in the industry are all American brands.

“The problem for domestic companies is that they now lag further behind their foreign counterparts,” said Claes Fornell, head of the ACSI at the University of Michigan. “This is not going to be helpful as the Big Three will lose more pricing power and be forced to continue dependence on rebates and discounting in a market where consumer preferences keep shifting away from domestic cars.”

The ACSI is a measure of overall satisfaction, (including customer service) and isn’t necessarily indicative of the quality of the car. Ray Wert of our car-obsessed sister blog Jalopnik tells us what he thinks the results really mean:

It’s actually just that consumers aren’t happy with American cars — and it mostly has to do with high gas prices, and American car companies having built so many trucks.

He also notes that car manufacturers essentially have no control over the customer service that you experience at the dealership, because few (if any? Tesla?) dealerships are actually owned by the car company. Sigh.

Here are the results:

Top 5 Car Brands In Customer Satisfaction (starting with the best):

  1. Lexus
  2. BMW
  3. Honda
  4. Toyota
  5. Cadillac

Bottom 5 Car Brands In Customer Satisfaction (starting with the worst):

  1. Jeep
  2. Dodge
  3. Chevy
  4. Kia
  5. Ford

American Consumer Satisfaction Index
(Photo: Ben Popken )


Edit Your Comment

  1. JollyJumjuck says:

    From personal experience with dealerships:

    Best: Hyundai
    Worst: Pontiac

  2. JoshMac says:

    Wow, Honda holds strong among such classy names as Lexus and BMW. And yet Mercedes seems to die more and more each year.

  3. dtmoore says:

    <3 my mustang.

  4. Bladefist says:

    I got to say, as a lexus owner, they are amazing to drive, and the dealer/service is awesome to work with.

  5. TechnoDestructo says:

    Probably doesn’t help that the domestic brands often have older dealerships, with decades behind them, and a state legislator or two in the family, and more of a sense of invulnerability and entitlement.

    The only time you’re going to hear about people getting more bullshit from a dealer is if they’re selling cars that sell themselves. (Like BMW and Honda, where the cars can make up for the dealers)

  6. TouchMyMonkey says:

    I keep seeing these commericals for Dodge trucks and SUVs with discounts from 22% to 40%. Ouch. I guess making the crappiest gas guzzlers in the industry doesn’t help one bit selling them.

  7. TouchMyMonkey says:

    @Bladefist: Ordinary Toyotas are awesome. I can sort of imagine what driving Toyota’s version of the Cadillac would be like.

  8. transzoo says:

    Umm Cadillac and Chevy are the same company. This makes me question this the accuracy survey or least the intelligence of those surveyed.

  9. madfrog says:

    I have worked at 2 dealerships, one import, one domestic. It is the difference between night and day, with the import (Subaru) being the best as far as customer service and limited service issues. GM stinks.

  10. DrJimmy says:

    Say what you want about American cars. You can have my Chevy truck when you pry my cold, dead corpse from behind its wheel.

  11. friendlynerd says:

    I was always very, very impressed with the Hyundai dealer.

    Unfortunately my Elantra forced me to go there for at least once a month on average.

  12. legwork says:

    And it’ll never correct. Even the few standout models can’t salvage US brands precisely because they are exceptions. Even if every US car magically became “good”, it would take a generation to change market perception. Toyota didn’t get where they are by making a few reliable vehicles, so even if they have problems with a V6 or two, it doesn’t compare to the dying misery that is the Big Three.

    Let’s see. Concentrate on quarterly results, neglect quality and style for 25yrs, maintain hope that cushy govt programs and tax incentives will turn the ship, nurture reliance on same programs such that your product line is completely out of line with true resource availability. Great recipe, guys.

    The only thing worse is the 25yrs of spineless and corrupt govt that gave away the store.

  13. tom2133 says:

    @transzoo: It’s kind of like flying coach class and business class. You’ve spent $50,000 on a car, they’re probably going to take better care of you/make sure you’re satisfied more than if you were to buy a $10,000 Cobalt.

  14. RevRagnarok says:

    I just don’t understand how Kia is always so low. We’ve had five now in my extended family, and have always enjoyed the build quality (earliest is 1998, Sephia, [Old] Sportage, [New] Sportage, Rio, Sedona). My ’98 Sephia had some problems (ate brake rotors faster than pads) but it was always under warranty and they eventually replaced the entire braking system with the newly designed one (a few months after my dealer did this, a recall/coupon did come out).

  15. sir_pantsalot says:

    “and it mostly has to do with high gas prices, and American car companies having built so many trucks.”

    This person writes for a car blog? My Mazda(90), Honda and Toyota are not in the shop 1/2 as much as the domestic vehicles that I have had. That is more of a reason that they are ranked above domestic vehicles.

  16. Krobar says:

    @RevRagnarok: First Kia, love the car (Optima), hated every dealership I’ve dealt with so far. (The first one where I bought it, then the one in the city we moved to that we went to for a couple oil changes).

  17. barty says:

    @transzoo: Nope, no mistake. Cadillacs dealers are usually independent entities.

    A vast majority of the folks who I’ve talked to personally who have sworn off domestic brands seem to have their biggest beef with the dealer network. Usually it stems from the way a service appointment was handled, ranging from a dealer trying to claim the problem with the vehicle was the fault of the owner and therefore not covered under warranty or failure to fix/diagnose a problem with the vehicle correctly the first time. By the time the manufacturer representatives get involved in a case, the owner is so pissed off that many people have made up their minds to sell the car as soon as it is fixed or replaced.

    But as was alluded to earlier, the dealer franchise laws in most states prevent manufacturers from owning any significant portion of a dealership and therefore doesn’t have very much say in how the operation is run. There are standards they are supposed to meet, but unless they get a ton of complaints about a dealer, punitive action against a wayward dealership is usually non-existent.

  18. bohemian says:

    We bought a dodge truck with a pretty large price tag. It has been the biggest lemon I have ever owned. Every expensive break down was a known issue Dodge let go out the door and refuses to cover under any warranty or recall.

    I will never buy another American car.

  19. Coder4Life says:

    My roomate had a 99 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and their Jeep service center was about the worst thing EVER…. After getting over $4k in repairs from him b/ they didn’t know how to fix the security system problem they said that was just the begenning.. YOu know what he did, he traded the car in and got a VW that weeeknd.. After 4k? that’s just the begenning are you kidding?

  20. Coder4Life says:

    @transzoo: so are lexus and toyota..

  21. Doctor Cathattan says:

    “car manufacturers essentially have no control over the customer service that you experience at the dealership”

    I think that’s garbage. Manufacturers could easily control the quality of customer service if they wanted to. They could do this by offering financial incentives to dealerships who have high satisfaction ratings. They would measure QA by sending out surveys to customers asking them what their experiences were. Those dealerships that consistently have poor customer service should be threatened with revocation their franchise.

    But of course car manufacturers aren’t going to do this because it’s in their financial interest to have lots of dealerships and visibility. Car makers are going to make money regardless of whether or not a dealership has crappy C.S. From what I’ve seen, the quality of a car sells itself, without any help from a salesman at a dealership.

  22. Quatre707 says:

    The bottom 5 are also some of the least profitable brands on the market. Lexus and BMW have a lot more cash, because their cars are so much more profitable to manufacture and sell.
    Luxury cars are higher margin products than typical economy cars or pickups, and as for Honda and Toyota, their employees are paid far less… so of course these companies will have more revenue to spend on customer service than their low ranking competition.

  23. harumph says:

    They also come with crappy cars so maybe it is just standardization.

  24. CuriousO says:

    I would have to agree with Lexus being at the top, My first car was an IS 300 and the service was always superb, I still regret getting my Acura TL, the car is ok but the dealership is awful. If I’ve wouldn’t of wrecked it I would still have it.

  25. FabianWilcox says:

    “It’s actually just that consumers aren’t happy with American cars – and it mostly has to do with high gas prices, and American car companies having built so many trucks.”

    Built too many trucks? They couldn’t build them fast enough not long ago… Compare the fuel standards required by most of the other industrialized nations with the US, compare the fuel pricing policies of the other industrialized nations with the US, compare the whole cultural approach of the other industrialized nations with the Individual At All Cost and “Government Is The Problem” approach in the US.

    Any of you old enough to have lived through the “Oil Shocks” of the prior century? Maybe you read about it in school. Any person who is surprised by this has not been paying attention.

  26. hc5duke says:

    This doesn’t really tell me anything when you average out all these different dealerships. The best dealership (out of about 15 in 3 different states) I’ve been to was a Ford dealership. The 2nd worst dealership was another Ford dealership.

    The worst by far was Hendrick Dodge in Cary, NC. SCAM-ALERT!

  27. KristinaBeana says:

    I love my 2001 Accord, and will gladly send everyone and anyone to the dealership – Price Honda in Dover, Delaware. I live within 10 miles of two other dealers, but drove about 60 miles to get to this one. There is no bull, no overselling of extras, and we left with my car in about 90 minutes.

  28. NightSteel says:

    He also notes that car manufacturers essentially have no control over the customer service that you experience at the dealership

    BS. You can’t just open a car dealership with a major brand name on it, those dealerships are all franchises and if the franchisee steps out of line, the parent company can smack them down for it. I know I read an article not so long ago of a scammy dealership whose ownership or management was replaced by the parent company. I just can’t find the article now. Anyone else recall this?

  29. backbroken says:

    @DrJimmy: You can have my Ford Explorer when you pry my charred, burning, upside-down corpse from behind the wheel.

  30. scooby76 says:

    I had a ford car and the service was awful. I hated having to deal with them. Then they got this whole new management and told me how much better it was going to be, guess what, awful.

    I then got a Honda 6 years ago and had nothing but good things with the service guys. A year ago I bought a new Honda. I still get great service.

  31. Grive says:

    @Quatre707: And Honda and Toyota?

    The thing is, companies are not unprofitable just because they don’t sell to the premium market. They’re unprofitable because consumers don’t trust them.

    You’re applying cause-effect the wrong way.

  32. cametall says:

    Sweet! I just bought a Chevy…

  33. britne says:

    this came as a surprise – love my jeep, just not the shady (independent used) dealership i bought it from. i don’t equate the two.

  34. Grive says:

    @hc5duke: But anecdotal evidence tells you even less. If we go only by best-worst, then I can tell you this:

    The best dealership is: A Ford. Tied by a toyota, a lexus, a cadillac, a pontiac, a chevrolet, a bmw, a volvo, a mercedes, a kia, a saturn, a honda, an acura, etc etc etc.

    The worst dealership is: A Ford. Tied by a toyota, a lexus, a cadillac, a pontiac, a chevrolet, a bmw, a volvo, a mercedes, a kia, a saturn, a honda, an acura, etc etc etc.

    By moving to averages, you’re talking about how likely it is for you to get good products/service.

    A good analogy would be: Everything else being equal, would you purchase from an ebay seller with 90% or a 10%? Both have people saying they were awesome, both have people saying they were awful.

  35. the_wealth says:

    I wonder how much sales they generate just from gift cards? I am constantly receiving starbucks gift cards and only use them so that they don’t go to waste. It seems like the “default” gift card for many occasions.

  36. Grive says:

    @britne: Well, an independent used car salesman is one thing. However, most people would (correctly) relate their car purchase with their dealership. There’s a reason the building they got their car from had their car’s brand on huge letters.

    When you purchase a new car, there’s an expectation of mainteinance and service into it’s future. These satisfaction indexes rate how good the car has been to own. That includes the car’s performance, reliability and dealership efficiency.

  37. Subliminal0182 says:

    In my experience, Lexus is my #1, then Toyota and then Nissan. Those Nissan salesmen don’t leave you alone-even 8mos after you’ve already bought a car at another dealership!

    Buying a car-Toyota guys were rude, at times watching the football game instead of dealing w/ customer, but service dept was nice.

  38. buckinggrimace says:

    @TechnoDestructo: You’re from Carson City, right? Just throw in a spoiled cheerleader daughter and you have that town pegged.

  39. mariospants says:

    So now in addition to building better cars, Detroit has to provide better customer service? They should just give up right now.

  40. harumph says:

    I have worked at a few dealerships as a mechanic and they push the customer satisfaction angle like crazy but it seems like salesmen get a pass. I do have to say that most salesmen I have met fully reinforce the horrible reputations they already have. so many of them are just outright scumbags that will tell the customer whatever it takes to make a sale, even if it screws their co-workers in the service department down the road.

  41. Jevia says:

    I’d like to say that this is a surprise, given that of the cars I bought 15 years ago, Toyota was great, Chevy was crap. You’d think that the American car makers would have tried to improve things, since this is not a recent event. Apparently not.

  42. WolfDemon says:

    @dtmoore: I

    What he said

  43. Inglix_the_Mad says:

    VW, love my Jetta Wolfsburg. Wife has an Escape. Unless there are significant changes, we’ll end up getting a small SUV from them for her.

  44. grebby says:

    Does this study take the financing experience into consideration? I’ve had great service from American Honda Finance. How are GMAC, Daimler-Chrysler Financial, Ford Credit?

  45. jsstudios says:

    I have to say the survey was a bit of a surprise. I wouldn’t trade my Jeep for anything. So far the dealership I bought it from has been nothing but great to me.

  46. Eric Lai says:

    @Simply_J: This is exactly the system in place right now at pretty much any franchise, and it’s called CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) scores – and guess what? It doesn’t work. In theory, customers who have just bought are car are surveyed to see how their experience was, and anything less than a top score in for any given question is failing. Dealers have always had ways of getting around this – for example, I’ve known a few that will lure you with a financial incentive if you return the survey to the dealer, which will then “submit it for you.” Guess what happens to it then?

    Cars from 2 of the big three are better than they’ve ever been (Chrysler, not so much) – like with the Ford Fusion, and the new Chevy Malibu looks very promising. The gap that remains is more so in consumer perception than actual quality. But they certainly earned this reputation by decades of neglecting their products, and everything will have to line up for them to come out of it. They’ve made decent headway on the quality of their cars, but now they need to bring the dealer experience up to par, stop dumping so many units into fleets, and do what’s necessary to improve residual values.

    If you don’t think it’s possible, look to Hyundai. In the mid-80s, they had a reputation for building worthless econoboxes (the Excel). Through improving the quality of their cars, the dealer experience and then backing it with their 10 year/100K warranty, they’ve positioned themselves in the marketplace where they can now sell a $40K car (Genesis) that competes with Lexus – and it looks like it might just work.

  47. Notsewfast says:

    I totally agree with the overall sentiment here. It is such a dealer-to-dealer experience that it is hard to judge one brand over another.

    I have only purchased 2 cars new, a Range Rover and an Audi, and have had incredible experiences both places (although better with Audi). I bought a lightly used Explorer from a Ford dealership in College, and found the high pressure tactics to be off-putting, but there are so many variables that I don’t know that i can accurately judge.

    I will say that shopping for higher-end cars is a whole different experience from looking at base-model Chevy Cobalts, but you pay a hefty premium for that, and it may or may not be worth it depending on what you value in a vehicle.

    @Eric Lai:
    Honestly, the only people who truly beleive that anything made by Hyundai is a competition for anything made by Lexus are people trying to justify their purchase of a new Hyundai.

  48. Eric Lai says:

    @Secret Agent Man: Maybe so, but recall how hard the German Big 3 were laughing in 1989 when a new luxury brand called Lexus introduced their first car? Now … not so much. The only difference here is that the new car is being marketed as a Hyundai and under a new brand.

  49. Lizard_King says:

    My American autos have been MUCH better than my Japanese cars. My Hondas only survived until 200K and 225K miles, My Mazda died at 140K. The thing about the Japanese vehicles is the build quality and repairability – of which there is NONE. I cannot rebuild my Honda motor, I cannot fix the body rot on the other. The Mazda was just a POS from Day one.

    I will swear by Jeeps with manual transmissions and inline 6’s – PERFECT vehicles.

  50. ManicPanic says:

    @Inglix_the_Mad: Here here! A Tiguan perhaps? I heart my jetta.

    The only thing is that my original dealer did hose me with a loaner when mine was going in for routine maintenance and I called my salesperson to let her know. She was helpful in the situation but when you buy the car they introduce you to practically everyone in the dealership before you leave to make you feel like part of the “family” so I expected more.

  51. ironchef says:

    I blame it on the unions.

    They aren’t quality control obsessed like the Japanese. Union people are too focused on membership break rules and benefits. They never reward people for proactively improving the bottom line or quality of a product or taking responsibility for their failures. Taking someone off line for poor performance is next to impossible under most union sites I worked with.

    I tend to be liberal but when it comes to unions, I think they get in the way of quality control.

  52. Notsewfast says:

    @Eric Lai:
    I concede that, but I think the difference was that Lexus was launched as a “premium brand” separate from Toyota. Hyundai is marketing their cars as ‘luxury’ under the name that has been synonymous with cheap for many years.

    Hyundai’s strategy seems to be making their flagship luxury sedans looks as dissimilar from their lowly bargain bin cars as possible so that consumers will not recognize them as the same brand. I think when your best tactic is trying to distance yourself from your own product line, their are some mixed messages being sent.

    Like it or not, in the ‘luxury’ category for anything, the name accounts for a lot of the price premium, sometimes in spite of quality (see Lincoln).

  53. Snarkysnake says:

    Coming of age in the early 80’s meant buying cars from lying,arrogant crapsacks at the big 3 dealerships. (Proud motto- “Take it or leave it,asshole)and a smattering of Japanese dealers in the area. (The Germans were pretty much out of the picture in those years). Now the tables have most definitely turned in favor of the buyer. After being insulted,lied to,hoodwinked,swindled and screwed to the wall, I love the current sales atmosphere just fine.I now own nothing but Toyota. Best decision that we ever made. So long,big 3. See you in the history books…

  54. barty says:

    @NightSteel: In theory, that’s how it is supposed to work. As mentioned, state laws sometimes render the manufacturers with a limited amount of recourse and most of the time it amounts to a slap on the hand. Think about it, particularly in a major metropolitan market, you’ve probably got maybe 3-5 large conglomerates that probably control over half of the new car sales in a given area. They have VERY deep pockets to donate money to the re-election campaigns of anyone who maintains the status quo so far as auto franchise laws are concerned.

  55. katylostherart says:

    so 1 and 4 are the same company for the top five and in the bottom five the first two are also the same company.

    so that’s like awesome^2 and suck^2.

    i’ve never had to use car’s brand service. autoshop service on the other hand, that could use some tweaking.

  56. Eric Lai says:

    @barty: Dealer principals/owners are very powerful when it comes to lobbying power, which is why the way we buy new cars today is more or less the same as how we did it 50 years ago. There’s a few examples that stray from this, like Saturn, who for a while had some of the highest customer satisfaction ratings alongside Lexus – probably as a result of their no-haggle pricing and great dealer experience. But GM let this slide and didn’t provide Saturn with new products for the longest time (their current lineup all showed up within the past few years). Or take Carmax – they applied the same no-haggle pricing structure and dealer experience, changing the way you buy a used car – and suddenly customers are willing to pay a premium for it.

    The Big 3 automakers need to come up with something disruptive like that – and then stand behind it – in order to win back former domestic buyers like Snarkysnake who either had a bad experience with their cars or buying process. GMs and Fords might be better than ever – but happy Toyota and Honda owners won’t go back to Chevys and Fords unless they have a pretty damn compelling reason to. This means that Big 3 quality, both real and perceived, along with how you’re treated by your dealer, has to be better than that of their competition. That’s a huge feat.

  57. t325 says:

    I love my VW GTI and the dealer I bought it from is awesome. I wouldn’t take one of the American pieces of crap if you gave it to me

  58. NotYou007 says:

    Well I just purchased a used 2007 Kia Rio which does have a good amount of manufactures warranty behind it but the dealer I bought it from will also give me a loaner if it does need to be serviced. My other choice was to purchase a brand new 2008 Accent but I didn’t want to purchase a brand new car and I couldn’t find a used Accent anywhere as I live in a small city with very few dealers and used small cars are in high demand. It has the same engine as the 2008 Accent and is much larger and has a lot more trunk space than a 2008 Accent hatchback. I do not regret my purchase at all but when you purchase a very basic car you get a very basic ride, etc. My only other choice was to get say, a Camry with around 90,000 miles on it for 9K and with a 90 day warranty. That to me is just stupid when I can spend, which I did a tad more and get a car with that still has a bumper to bumper warranty. I know it’s not the best built car in the world but I enjoy it and again, I have no regerts.

  59. balthisar says:

    Uh, if you actually bother to follow the link and read the results, there’s not a whole lot of disparity. Wow, so 13% of people are unhappy with their Lexus dealer versus 20% with their Ford dealer. Considering that the volume of the Ford brand versus the Lexus brand, Ford dealers have several factors of magnitude of ability to screw up. That’s not to defend Ford or the other “losers,” just pointing out that rankings without any thought behind them are kind of not a real indicator on their own (i.e., there’s more data, and we’re smart consumerists, right?).

  60. PoliticalScapegoat says:

    During a recent cross country move, the only type of vehicles I’ve seen being towed behind Winnebagos and U-Hauls were American branded. No Toyotas, Nissans, etc. Coincidence? I think not.

    I wouldn’t have considered driving that distance either if I owned an American car or truck.

  61. mac-phisto says:

    best car i ever had was a honda. worst was a vw. but best dealership buying experience was at a toyota dealer & worst was at the honda dealer next door. i walked around for 20 minutes looking at cars & even though i was the only buyer on the lot, none of the 3 salesmen could be bothered to even wave at me (so i walked next door & bought a toyota).

    best dealership repair experience was at greentree toyota in danbury, ct. some yahoo teenager backed into me in a parking lot & i needed some body work. they told me 4 days & it was done in 2.

    best salesman was at a ford/mazda dealership – the guy had to be 100 (he had 3 “lifetime sales” rings – i think you get those for 20 years of service or something) & i really felt bad that i didn’t buy a car from him – he was everything i could want in a salesperson – no b.s., no forced-sales, just down-to-earth “let’s find you the car you want” attitude.

    i would buy american cars if they appealed to me, but frankly they don’t. i like peppy coupes with 5 on the floor, a sunroof & some style reasonably priced. detroit stopped making those cars in the mid-70s.*

    *exception, of course, being the mustang, which is a best-seller in this country. imagine that! there’s a market for cars that aren’t baby-mobiles, can’t haul a yard of fill or have enough cargo room to carry half of what you own around with you! shocking!

  62. RevRagnarok says:

    I know this isn’t about the cars themselves, but the customer disservice. Anyway… I travel one week a month for work and I now actually request “no American cars.” I really don’t think they have a single “usability” person among them. My latest complaint was some GM I think… The window controls were all in a single row in some undeterminable order (maybe DF/DR/PR/PF?). They were at the bottom of the dashboard, so when the floor shifter was in Park you couldn’t roll up all four windows with one hand at once! The stick got in the way. Absolutely moronic.

  63. lingum says:

    I got a recall notice on my 97 jeep wrangler for a cat converter inspection and computer software upgrade. I take it in and they won’t even do the recall unless I replace the entire exhaust first. I also wanted the vacuum leak fixed so the air/heat works properly and doesn’t just come out of the defrosters only.

    They quote me 3500 for a bunch of stuff I didn’t ask to have fixed or 1500 for just the air. I paid 7k for the jeep 6 years ago. It had about 95k miles on it when I took it in.

    I asked for my recall paper back since they didn’t do the work listed on it so I could go elsewhere, and they refused to give it back.

    I like jeeps, this being my third, but this article doesn’t surprise me a bit.

  64. Adhominem says:

    In 1990, my father bought a Ford Escort. Being a poor graduate student with a family, this was a substantial amount of money to him and pretty much the best he could afford. In 1992, at a grand total of 56,000 miles, the little Escort broke down completely.

    Since then we have owned a 2 Honda Oddyseey’s and 3 Honda Accords. Never had a major issue. My father is looking to buy his 4th Honda Accord at the end of this year.

    On the other side, my girlfriend’s father swears by Ford. It’s funny because he acknowledges their history of faulty quality, and tells me he purchases them out of family tradition.

  65. balthisar says:

    @PoliticalScapegoat: Uh, are you being ironic? If people are driving a U-Haul, they’re obviously not driving their car. Chances are, that U-Haul is in worse condition than any other car on the road.

    As for motor homes, those are all American made. People aren’t avoiding driving their cars; they’re taking their cars with them on their trips. You should hang out in the RV forums if you want real education about why some cars are preferred over others for RV’ers. There’s a lot to consider when pulling another vehicle for many months at the time for a lot of miles.

  66. FrankenPC says:

    I don’t know if this is a phrase anyone else uses…”cab works”. The engineering behind the interior design including the electric windows. Anything accessible from the inside the cab by the driver.

    American cars have F’ed cabworks. I know, I’ve owned 4 American cars. Now, I only buy Toyota and Nissan. I will NEVER buy another American automobile. How frustrating to have to deal with the crappy engineering.

  67. BugNet says:

    I have to wholeheartedly concur with those who will never buy another American car (= “big 3” car) again.

    I used to believe the “improved quality” and “equal to or better than Japanese” lines. I was “patriotic” and bought a Saturn once; they said at the corporate level that they benchmarked manufacturing quality and customer satisfaction (including dealership and service) from Honda. After only 60K it went through its oil almost as fast as gasoline (3-4 qt per tank of gas, no kidding). I was told “It’s normal” and not to worry about it by several dealers’ service departments. The internet and independent service centers told me this is a very common occurrence in this car that is suposedly the equal or better of any car in its class. Traded it for a Toyota that now has over 110,000 trouble free miles on it.

    Saturns nowadays aren’t anything more than rebadged Opels, and “Home of the Saturn” Spring Hill now makes GM trucks or SUVs or something. Saturn as concieved of is now extinct. And deservedly so. The rest of GM is on its way, too. I won’t miss it.

    My favorite cars are Acuras. They are superbly made and perform very well in addition to being very fun to drive and comfortable. My dealer (Rosetthal Acura in MD) is wonderful. The only thing wrong with an Acura is that they last forever, so you really have to bend your own rules to justiify buying a new one. They are a bit pricey (but far less so than comparable cars by Toyota/Lexus or BMW or Mercedes or whomever else), but are in my experience worth every dime.

    Note: By dickering a bit, we got our 09 TSX for about what the local Honda dealer wanted for an Accord, which wasn’t as nicely equiped and had a vastly inferior warranty and maintenance package.

    For the record, I’ve owned:
    1999 Saturn: bought new, ran for 60,000 miles and it was worthless except as a smokescreen layer. Meticulous about recomended and required service.
    1984 Toyota light truck: bought new, drove it for 350,000 miles, sold off (gave it away, really) to a needy laborer. The only trouble I had from it was in getting parts as it was a diesel —I even had a dealer tell me that they (Toyota) “never made diesel vehicles”.
    1980 Honda Civic: 250,000 miles, sold off; wish I still had it. No troubles from it. Totally fun car!
    1990 Honda Civic: 150,000 miles, lost it in a divorce. No troubles from it.
    2000 Acura 3.2 TL: 120,000 miles, ran like new but we wanted a new one and traded it in a month ago. No troubles from it.
    Are you seeing a pattern here?

  68. Youthier says:

    I just had a terrible salesman experience last night and it was even someone that I know. This dealership sells my grandpa a new vehicle every year, my mom one every two years, etc. I gave the guy our budget and some of my very basic desires and he proceeded to show me a car $10,000 more than my price range.

    Last week, I went to a dealership I had never stepped foot in before. The salesman was very friendly and concious of what I want. He pressed for no timeline for buying and when my husband pointed out a car he liked, the salesman said, “That’s a little out of the price range you gave me but I can let you drive it if you like.” Even if I don’t buy a car from him (while they score high, I’m not sure I want a Toyota), I would recommend him to friends.

  69. Apeweek says:

    Living here in Detroit, it’s hard not to buy a “big 3” car. After a few terrible auto dealership experiences, I bought my first Toyota in the early 80s.

    The car was great, but I had to endure broken antennas, keyed doors, and even had to dodge a bullet (someone shot at me in traffic.)

    The ironic thing is, my Toyota is assembled right here in the USA by American workers. Lots of “American” cars aren’t any longer.

  70. xphilter says:

    It is a huge paradigm shift going from Lexus, Merc, BMW, Jag, even Hyundai to American brands. The Cadillac dealer I went to was just clueless about anything this century. The one time I set foot into a Buick dealership I was the youngest by 60 years…that business model might work for another 10 years or so but they really need to youthanize their brands (one way or another).

  71. Shadowman615 says:

    @Apeweek: See, Big 3 cars are so bad you wont even drive one with a gun to your head!

    Really though, wtf?

  72. Pro-Pain says:

    Since I began driving in 92 I have always owned Mustang GT’s. I started buying them new in 95 and trading them in every body change. They are great cars in every way. They have NEVER left me stranded. They do eat tires and brakes but I think that’s my driving habits at work there. My Ford dealer is spectacular in service and communication.If something was to happen to Ford, I don’t know what I’d do…

  73. admiral_stabbin says:

    @Pro-Pain: I leased an MY98 Mustang new ten years ago. I traded it off after a year as it was a terrible car (and I was only leasing it). I’m glad you’ve had better luck.

    I recall the following comment from the Service Manager of the dealership where I leased it when I had it in getting a failed part replaced. I was inquiring as to the annoying rattle that came from the interior (the rear deck rattled). His comment, “It’s a Mustang…they do that. If you want a car that doesn’t rattle, you should buy a Lincoln.”

  74. ram0029 says:

    All this talk of how great foreign cars must be a little tongue in cheek. My family has owned dozens of cars over the last 10 years, big family. Not much differenc eoverall as far as I could tell regarding quality. Anecdotal evidence aside (meaning all the… I bought X car and it was crap now I buy only XY!!, reliability of American made vehicles has improved dramatically as shown by brands such Buick and Mercury beating out EVERY other brand with the exception of Lexus.

    Now styling and features… still room for considerable improvement. I think alot of the supposed quality disparity has become something of self centered bias/self fullfilling prophecy. Domestic quality/performance lagged for decades… now it is just assumed by many despite all the evidence to the contrary.

    By evidence I mean legitimate surveys, not the anecdotes.