Last year, Tesla topped the annual Consumer Reports Owner Satisfaction Survey. The year before, it did as well. In fact, ever since the Model S was eligible, Tesla has topped the list. This year, it did so again. This is no telephone survey conducted of a few hundred random people. Consumer Reports gets input from more than a half million actual car owners during the course of the year. They tell Consumer Reports (CR) whether they would buy the same car again, which is measure of whether the car lives up to the owners’ expectations at the time of purchase.
For example, people who buy Corvettes, Porsche 911s, and Mazda Miatas all are generally satisfied with their cars. They expected good handling and performance — features those cars deliver handily — and got exactly what they bargained for. CR asks people who respond to its survey to rate their cars in 6 specific areas:
- Driving experience
- Audio system
- Climate system
Notice that the Owner Satisfaction Survey is totally subjective while Consumer Reports’ regular ratings are based on objective data gleaned from thousands of miles of actual testing carried out at its 327 acre facility in Connecticut. The Owner Satisfaction Survey is essentially a beauty contest but it does offer some insight into whether people who actually own a car you may be considering are happy with their purchase.
Like all opinion surveys, it is subject to bias. For instance, someone who just dropped $130,000 or more on a Tesla may be reluctant to report the car doesn’t measure up to expectations. Plus, Tesla is on a roll right now. There’s a tendency not to swim upstream when it comes to popularity contests.
That hasn’t stopped one regular reader from Norway reporting that he has cancelled his Tesla Model 3 order after the company was unable to resolve some quality control issues with his Model S after 2 years of trying. Not every Tesla owner is a happy camper, apparently.
But the results, for whatever they are worth, show Tesla with a 90% approval rating, followed by Porsche and Genesis rounding out the top three. The Genesis rating is suspect as it is a relatively new brand with few owners at present, but apparently the few Genesis owners out there were happy enough with their cars to fill out a survey. Consumer Reports says no rankings for Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Jaguar, Land Rover, Maserati, and Smart are included due to a lack of sufficient data, which suggests the owners of those cars didn’t want to bother with the survey this year.
There are some interesting anomalies in this year’s result. Two pickup trucks — the Honda Ridgeline and the Ford F350 — both scored in the top 10 among individual models. No pickups have made it into the top 10 in the previous 5 years. Among brands, Hyundai dropped 11 spaces to 24th overall while Kia rose 5 to claim the 13th spot. That makes no sense, since the cars each brand sells are essentially clones of each other, just as Buicks and Chevrolets are virtually identical other than the badges they wear when they leave the factory.
Honda is ranked 9th overall but Acura, its luxury car division, comes in dead last in 30th place. With the exception of the ultra-low-volume Acura NSX, every Acura and every Honda are virtually identical in every significant respect.
The full report is included in the February 2018 issue of the Consumer Reports magazine.