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The Best and Worst Car Brands for Customer Satisfaction

If you're looking for a new car in 2019, you'll want to check out how satisfied customers are with their driving choices.

A row of new cars parked at a car dealership stock, New Japanese cars in showroom for show customers.janon kas/Shutterstock

The ACSI Automobile Survey

The American Customer Satisfaction Index measures on a scale of 1 to 100 how satisfied American consumers are with all types of products and services. The ACSI has been analyzing customer satisfaction with their cars for over two decades, capturing customer opinions about critical elements of the automobile experience, including:

    • Driving performance (handling, drivability)
    • Dependability
    • Exterior (look, style)
    • Interior (features, space)
    • Vehicle safety
    • Warranties
    • Technology (audio, navigation, controls)
    • Comfort
    • Gas mileage
    • Website

Modern beautiful showroom with cars being soldGreentellect Studio/Shutterstock

The overall results

Americans are increasingly satisfied with their cars, with the industry-wide score increasing one point since last year—to 82. Both the cars and the servicing of those autos have improved, but the rise in driver satisfaction is largely the result of better value, according to the ACSI. The following brands are ranked from the highest to lowest rating on the consumer-satisfaction scale.

Lexus Automobiles, Pittsburgh, USA - 15 Feb 2018Gene J Puskar/AP/Shutterstock

Lexus (Toyota)

Lexus has been one of the top five car brands since 2011, according to the number crunchers at 24/7 Wall Street who analyzed the 2018 survey. This year, its score was 85, down from 86 last year and placing it in a tie with Volvo. Lexus was also named the most trusted car brand in America.

TURIN, ITALY - JUNE 10, 2017: Volvo logo on a car grillRoberto Lusso/Shutterstock

Volvo

Tied for the top position, Volvo garnered the company’s highest score in its history with an 85. (Last year, Volvo got an 82.) And its sales reflect the bump up in customer satisfaction with a 27.6 percent increase in the number of vehicles sold; that was the largest increase of any car brand in the survey.

HOUSTON, US-SEPT 10, 2016: Close-up metallic logo of Lincoln Motor, a division of Ford Motor Company that sells luxury vehicles. Founded 1917 by Henry Leland, Lincoln is subsidiary of Ford since 1922.Trong Nguyen/Shutterstock

Lincoln (Ford)

The second spot is shared by Lincoln and Subaru, each garnering 84 points. Lincoln has climbed two points since 2017. That said, this Ford luxury brand saw a 10 percent drop in sales in the last year.

Vilnius, Lithuania - May 18: Subaru logotype on a car on May 18, 2018 in Vilnius Lithuania. Subaru is the automobile manufacturing division of Japanese conglomerate Fuji Heavy Industriesastudio/Shutterstock

Subaru

The good news for Subaru is that sales are up from last year by more than 5 percent. And while it tied for the second spot in customer satisfaction for the second year in a row, it did drop a point from 85. These are the 10 things you should never do to your car.

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - August 12, 2017: Audi is a German automobile manufacturer that designs, engineers, produces, markets and distributes luxury vehicles. Audi is a member of the Volkswagen Group.ThamKC/Shutterstock

Audi (Volkswagen)

This year, this Volkswagen luxury brand rose a point in terms of customer satisfaction with a score of 83, placing it in a tie for the third spot. And according to 24/7 WallStreet, this is a substantial improvement from 2014, when Subaru scored 79, tying for third worst that year.

PUTRAJAYA, MALAYSIA - JULY 30, 2017: Emblem from Honda Jazz at the roadshow in Putrajaya, MalaysiaFaiz Zaki/Shutterstock

Honda

Last year, Honda came in as one of the less-satisfactory car brands with a score of 81. That’s changed now: It scored 83 points this year, placing it in a tie with Audi and Toyota. Though Honda’s overall sales are down by nearly 2 percent this year, SUV sales have been improving. Don’t miss these weird car features you didn’t know you might have.

CHIANGRAI, THAILAND - DECEMBER 31, 2014 : Logo of Toyota car on display at Chiang Rai ASEAN flower festival 2014tavizta/Shutterstock

Toyota

Bittersweet results for Toyota this year: The brand has dropped to an 83 this year. It had been at 86 last year, which put it in a tie with Lexus for the top ranking.

ODESSA, UKRAINE - AUGUST 13, 2017: BMW logo and badge on the carrealist2000/Shutterstock

BMW

BMW, Cadillac (GM), Mercedez-Benz, and Volkswagen all scored an 82 in terms of customer satisfaction for 2018. That places BMW precisely where it was last year, although its sales are up 2.5 percent.

DETROIT, MI/USA - JANUARY 15, 2018: Close up of a 2018 Cadillac CTS-V grill at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), one of the most influential car shows in the world each year.Steve Lagreca/Shutterstock

Cadillac (GM)

“Cadillac has had its share of struggles,” 24/7 Wall Street points out. But the good news is that, with its score of 82, it’s GM’s highest-ranked brand on this list, and it’s enjoyed a 5.4 percent sales increase this year. Make sure you know these simple tricks for outsmarting car salesmen.

Trier, Germany - August 23, 2018: Mercedes-Benz is a global automobile marque and a division of the German company Daimler AG. The brand is known for luxury vehicles, buses, coaches, and lorries.Sergej Lebedev/Shutterstock

Mercedes-Benz

The brand is tied with Cadillac, but Mercedes-Benz is on a bit of a downswing. Customer satisfaction dropped to 82—from last year’s 84—and sales are down 13.4 percent.

Hamburg, Germany, September 2017, logo of the German automobile manufacturer VOLKSWAGENHB Photo/Shutterstock

Volkswagen

This brand tied with Cadillac and Mercedes with a score of 82, an improvement from its 2017 score of 79. Sales are up 8 percent, as well. The analysts at 24/7 Wall Street see this as evidence the German automaker has made significant strides in recovering after its 2016 carbon emissions scandal. These are the 12 best used cars to buy.

Acura Automobiles, Pittsburgh, USA - 15 Feb 2018Gene J Puskar/AP/Shutterstock

Acura

While below the industrywide average score of 82, Acura’s 81 is a percentage point higher than last year. That said, there’s plenty of room for improvement: 24/7 Wall Street points out that Acura is close to the bottom of luxury brands.

Kokomo - Circa September 2017: GMC and Buick Truck and SUV dealership. GMC and Buick are divisions of GM VIJonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

Buick (GM)

Buick is floating in the middle with a score of 80 (which it shares with GMC, Hyundai, Jeep, Mazda, Mini, Nissan, and Ram). Unfortunately, there’s been a downward trend ever since Buick scored an 88 in the 2010 ACSI survey. Watch out for the 7 ways you’re completely wasting your money on car maintenance.

GMC Trucks, Pittsburgh, USA - 15 Feb 2018Gene J Puskar/AP/Shutterstock

GMC (GM)

Another GM brand with a downward trend in customer satisfaction: This maker of vans, SUVs, and trucks has dropped 5 percent to a score of 80.

KIEV, UKRAINE - APRIL 28, 2017: Photo of the logo of Hyundai car. Hyundai is a famous worldwide car company.Vladi333/Shutterstock

Hyundai

While J.D. Power ranks Hyundai as one of the 10 best car brands, owners of Hyundai vehicles are not completely convinced: The brand’s ACSI fell from 83 to 80, and its sales dropped a couple of percentage points as well. Here are 9 things to consider before buying a car online.

ODESSA, UKRAINE - AUGUST 13, 2017: Jeep auto logo and badge on the carrealist2000/Shutterstock

Jeep (Fiat Chrysler)

Customer satisfaction held steady with a score of 80. That means Jeep is the crown jewel for Fiat Chrysler. Plus, Jeep’s sales are up almost 21 percent from last year, and it’s actually the only major Fiat-Chrysler brand to report any sales growth over that period.

Kiev, Ukraine- June 6, 2018: Mazda car logoLutsenko_Oleksandr/Shutterstock

Mazda

We’ve got good news and bad news regarding Mazda. The good news is sales are up 11.5 percent since last year. The bad news is that with a below-average score this year of 80, down from 82 last year, some of the shine appears to be coming off the brand. Check out these 20 awesome car accessories that will change the way you drive.

Berlin, Germany - June 22, 2017: Mini Cooper logo. Introduced in 1969, it is a British automotive marque owned by BMW which specialises in small carsCineberg/Shutterstock

Mini (BMW)

Like Mazda, Mini (BMW) fell from 82 to 80 from last year. But when it comes to dealer experience, Mini gets a perfect 10, according to J.D. Power—one of just four car brands to earn that score in dealer experience.

St-Petersburg, Russia - May 15, 2016: Nissan car logo on a front radiator grille of Nissan X-Trail SUV, closeup photo with selective focusEvannovostro/Shutterstock

Nissan

With a score of 80, just like last year, this Japanese automaker is showing signs of struggles, according to 24/7 Wall Street. There were big decreases in sales during 2018, although J.D. Power still gives the brand a 9 out of 10 for overall quality. Look out for these 13 ways you’re shortening the life of your car.

Warsaw, Poland - October, 09, 2017: Front of pick up truck RAM 1500.meowKa/Shutterstock

RAM (Fiat Chrysler)

Appearing in the survey for the first time this year, RAM earned a mediocre score of 80. But from Fiat Chrysler’s perspective, it could be seen as a bit of a win. RAM isn’t even close to the worst-ranked of the Fiat-Chrysler brands this year, which came in below the industry average of 82.

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - MARCH 25 2018: Chevrolet Division of General Motors Company logo on silver car on March 25, 2018 in Prague, Czech Republic.josefkubes/Shutterstock

Chevrolet (GM)

And now we reach the bottom third of the survey: Although Chevrolet is the third largest-selling auto brand after Toyota and Ford—sales are up by 5 percent this year—owner satisfaction scores a low 79, and that compares unfavorably with GM’s other divisions, such as Cadillac, Buick, and GMC. Here’s how to handle the 10 scariest driving situations.

ODESSA, UKRAINE - AUGUST 13, 2017: Kia motors logo and badge on the carrealist2000/Shutterstock

Kia

Kia is tied with Chevrolet and Mitsubishi, but its owner-satisfaction rating is down 4 percent from last year’s 82. Kia has shown a slight decrease in sales in 2018, down 1.6 percent.

Vilnius, Lithuania - May 18: Mitsubishi logotype on a car on May 18, 2018 in Vilnius Lithuania. Mitsubishi Motors Corporation is a Japanese multinational automotive manufacturerastudio/Shutterstock

Mitsubishi

Up from last year’s 78, Mitsubishi still appears to be falling short in owner satisfaction. However, sales are up 23.4 percent since last year and, depending on how that works out for the purchasers, that could have a positive effect on the brand’s score next year.

ISTANBUL - DECEMBER 24, 2018: Italian automobile manufacturer Fiat close-up logo.otomobil/Shutterstock

Fiat

With sales down a whopping 43.7 percent since last year—the largest decline of any car brand in the survey—it’s not surprising that Fiat fell from a 78 to 75. At least the brand has moved up from last year’s position of dead last. Make sure you know these 14 signs your car is about to die.

CRACOW, POLAND - MAY 21, 2016: Infiniti metallic logo closeup on the Infiniti car displayed at 3rd edition of MOTO SHOW in Cracow Poland.wjarek/Shutterstock

Infiniti

Infiniti’s score of 78 is a bit alarming when you consider it’s a luxury brand, and luxury brands tend to be ranked higher in terms of owner satisfaction. In fact, Infiniti is the only luxury brand to score below this year’s average of 82. Not a particularly auspicious debut for Infiniti—this is the brand’s first year in the survey.

BOLOGNA, ITALY - CIRCA DECEMBER, 2017: Close up of Dodge logo.pio3/Shutterstock

Dodge

Dodge received a 77, placing it in a tie with Ford for second-to-last in the rankings, but this score is actually an improvement from last year’s 75. Like the other five brands at the bottom of the survey, Dodge’s sales are down (by 3.5 percent since last year).

Dallas , Texas - September 21, 2018. the Ford logo on a pickup grillRonald Plett/Shutterstock

Ford

For a brand as popular as Ford, it’s surprising how low customer satisfaction is. Ford boasts a 14 percent U.S. market share but is tied with Dodge for second-to-last in these rankings; the brand’s satisfaction score has fallen from 79 to 77 this year. Check out these 75 car maintenance tips that will extend the life of your car.

Chrysler Automobiles, Pittsburgh, USA - 15 Feb 2018Gene J Puskar/AP/Shutterstock

Chrysler

And that brings us to Chrysler—dead last in customer satisfaction. The brand got a 74. Last year, it scored a 79, and sales are down 13.1 percent. As 24/7 Wall Street puts it, “No auto brand ranked worse or fell harder in the rankings than Chrysler.” Better luck next year. If you’re in the market for a car, take a look at these 34 secret car-buying tips that dealers won’t tell you.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.