The American Customer Satisfaction Index reports that overall satisfaction scores for automakers stayed constant between 2020 and 2021. That's good news, but a look at the past five years suggests that customer satisfaction in new vehicles isn't as high as it once was. Back in 2017, the average score was 82 on a 100-point scale; for 2021 the average sits at 78.
Let's get to the numbers, broken out by mainstream brands and luxury brands:
American Customer Satisfaction Index: Mass-market nameplates
American Customer Satisfaction Index: Luxury nameplates
With an overall score of 82 (up 4% over last year), Honda leads all automakers regardless of what segment they compete in. Subaru, BMW (up 4%) and Lexus (down 1%) all tied with a score of 81, followed by Ram (which had the highest score last year), Audi and Tesla at 80. The lowest score of all came from the Chrysler brand all the way down at 70 (down 4%) and just below Mitsubishi's score of 71 (down a disastrous 8% compared to last year). On the luxury front, Infiniti's score of 75 is just below the 76s of Acura and Lincoln.
"Over the last few years, luxury automakers’ satisfaction lead over mass-market manufacturers has been slowly eroding. That gap is now almost nonexistent," David VanAmburg, managing director at ACSI, said in a statement. "In terms of style points and cool factor, luxury vehicles may still have the edge, but if you remove all the bells and whistles, the two are more similar than not."
Not surprisingly, vehicle owners who received a recall notification in 2021 reported a lower satisfaction score (76) than those who went recall free (80). European brands had the highest average scores at 79, followed by Japanese and Korean brands at 78 and American brands at 77.
Breaking the numbers down further, mass-market-brand owners gave the highest scores in categories like Safety, Dependability, Driving Performance, Exterior, Comfort and Interior while scoring the Warranty, Gas Mileage and Technology categories poorly. On the luxury side, owners were most satisfied with Comfort, Interior, Safety Driving Performance and Exterior. The category that scored the worst was Gas Mileage.
The ACSI scores were calculated based on interviews with 4,888 customers who were chosen at random.
Looking for more information on customer satisfaction scores? Check out these automaker rankings from Consumer Reports.