Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus automobile has won the top rating in customer satisfaction for the third year in a row, J.D. Power & Associates said. Lexus had a satisfaction index score of 175, five points ahead of rival Infiniti, which is made by Nissan Motor Co. Both luxury cars are known as expensive but reliable. The least expensive Lexus model, the ES300, sells for about $28,000; an Infiniti G20 fetches $21,400.
However, the survey found that not all satisfied owners spent a bundle on a car or truck.
General Motors Corp.'s Saturn, which offers a stylish sedan for less than $10,000, came in third, as it did last year. The Saturn earned a score of 156.
The independent study of vehicle handling and reliability polls more than 31,000 owners of cars and light trucks after one year of ownership. The results of the Agoura Hills-based company are heavily used in auto makers' advertisements.
The survey found that Japanese cars on the whole continued to set the pace in customer satisfaction, but domestic car manufacturers have narrowed the gap.
American cars also passed European autos in customer satisfaction for the second time, with a two-point advantage.
The 1993 industry average on the index was 135 points, and 16 nameplates ranked at or above that level. In 1992, the industry average was 129.
Car Rank Lexus 175 Infiniti 170 Saturn 156 Mercedes-Benz 149 Audi 147 Cadillac 146 Toyota 146 Acura 145 Jaguar 143 Lincoln 143 Honda 142 Oldsmobile 139 Buick 138 Saab 137 Volvo 136 Subaru 135
Truck Rank Toyota 165 Oldsmobile 146 Dodge 142 Chrysler 141 Range Rover* 141 Ford 140 Mazda 138 Mitsubishi 138
* Small sample
J.D. Power does not reveal performance rankings of car and truck lines rated below the industry average. For cars, those ranked below average were BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Eagle, Ford, Geo, Hyundai, Mazda, Mercury, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Plymouth, Pontiac, Suzuki and Volkswagen. Trucks rated below average were Chevrolet, Geo, GMC, Isuzu, Jeep, Nissan, Plymouth, Pontiac and Suzuki
Source: Reuters; J.D. Power & Associates