General Motors, Kia Tops in Satisfaction
Kia is doing something right — after scoring near the top in the latest J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study, the Korean brand has been named a leader in AutoPacific’s 2015 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. An automotive marketing and product-consulting firm based in Tustin, California, AutoPacific publishes a variety of automotive studies. The VSAs are based on survey responses from more than 66,000 owners of 2015 model-year cars and trucks, with winners spread across nine different car companies. General Motors topped the most categories, but the Kia K900 luxury sedan set an all-time high score to help Korean brands Hyundai and Kia achieve a combined average score that bested all other carmakers. Let’s look at this year’s most satisfying automobiles.
Luxury Car — Kia K900
The K900 is an all-new model for Kia — the brand’s first venture into the luxury sedan market. The stylish rear-wheel-drive model has the amenities worthy of a luxury car, including a powerful V8 engine. Available in two trim levels, the K900 has a starting price of just $54,500 — considerably lower than other luxury sedans in this segment.
Aspirational Luxury Car — Volvo S60
Volvo’s entry-level sedan was completely redesigned for the 2014 model year, and then received a number of new updates midway through the current year. The stylish small sedan is available with either front- or all-wheel drive and can be equipped with a variety of engine options, ranging from the 2.0-liter 240-horsepower engine to the 345-horsepower engine in the S60 Polestar.
Luxury Midsize Car — Lexus ES
It may be the entry-level sedan in the Lexus lineup, but the ES has plenty of standard luxury amenities you’d expect in a Lexus. Leather trim is standard, as are a power moonroof, automatic climate control, a high-end audio system with Bluetooth audio streaming and 17-inch alloy wheels. Engine choices are a 3.5-liter V6 or a hybrid powerplant.
Large Car — Kia Cadenza
Cadenza is Kia’s premium front-wheel- drive sedan, slotting above the Optima but below the K900. With a powerful V6 engine and a roomy rear seat, Cadenza competes with large sedans such as the Chrysler 300 and Hyundai Genesis. Only 3,289 Cadenzas have sold so far this year, so seeing one on the road is a rare occasion.
Premium Compact Car — Lexus CT200h
An attractive hatchback with sporty styling, the CT200h happens to be the only model in the Lexus lineup that is exclusively a hybrid. And with a starting price of $32,200, the CT200h is also the least expensive Lexus available. With only 134 horsepower from its gas-electric hybrid powertrain, the CT may not be very quick but it is efficient — rated at 42 mpg in combined city/highway driving.
Compact Car — Kia Soul (tie)
The Soul is not your typical compact car — and that’s a good thing. The cute, boxy hatchback makes great use of space; it has a small footprint but a surprisingly roomy interior, both for passengers and cargo. Kia also offers the Soul with an electric powertrain, but that version is currently available in a limited number of markets.
Compact Car — Volkswagen Jetta (tie)
Volkswagen introduced an updated Jetta for 2015 with fresh styling as well as new safety and convenience features. The best-selling model in the Volkswagen lineup for many years, the fun-driving Jetta has a comfortable interior and can be equipped with a variety of engines including a fuel-efficient hybrid or TDI diesel.
Compact Car — Volkswagen Beetle (tie)
One of the most iconic cars on the road, the Beetle has an instantly-recognizable shape reminiscent of the original version. Although legroom in the rear seat of this small car is rather tight, the vehicle shape allows plenty of headroom. The Beetle comes well equipped with standard features including Bluetooth connectivity and three-color ambient lighting.
Economy Car — Honda Fit
It’s no surprise to see the Honda Fit on this list — the compact hatchback is one of the most versatile small cars on the road. Redesigned for the 2015 model year with improved fuel economy and new safety features, the Fit retains its multi-configurable rear seat for excellent cargo and passenger utility.
Sports Car — Chevrolet Corvette
In production since 1953, the Corvette is often referred to as America’s sports car. Just one year after taking the wraps the all-new 7th generation Corvette, Chevrolet debuted the most powerful production Corvette ever: the Z06. Its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine puts out 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, making the Z06 the more powerful than any General Motors production vehicle ever made.
Sporty Car — Dodge Challenger
The Challenger receives a number of updates for 2015 including a style refresh, but the powerful rear-wheel-drive coupe keeps its popular retro look. A number of engine choices are available, but the one making all the news lately happens to be the 707-horsepower supercharged HEMI V8 engine found in the Challenger Hellcat.
Heavy-Duty Pickup — Ford F-Series Super Duty
The F-Series Super Duty is a great option for those who require true power for tough towing or hauling jobs. Available as F-250, F-350 or monstrous F-450 — the latter of which can tow as much as 31,200 pounds — the F-Series is a great combination of extreme capability, great passenger space and convenient, usable features.
Light-Duty Pickup — Ford F-150
Ford’s F-Series has been the best-selling vehicle in America for more than 30 years, so it’s no surprise to see the popular pickup on this list. All-new for 2015, the F-150 features a lighter-weight aluminum body as well as an economical but powerful 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine.
Compact Pickup — GMC Canyon
The GMC Canyon is all-new for the 2015 model year. The compact pickup has updated styling as well as new engines that boast segment-leading power and impressive fuel economy. Canyon can be equipped with the latest safety features — including available forward collision alert and lane departure warning — in addition to a standard rearview camera.
Luxury SUV — Infiniti QX80
Infiniti offers a wide array of luxury SUVs, and the QX80 is the largest of them all. With seating for eight and a cavernous cargo area, the QX80 offers plenty of versatility in a luxurious package. Power comes from a 5.6-liter 400-horse V8 engine that has enough grunt to tow up to 8,600 pounds.
Large SUV — Chevrolet Tahoe
One of several all-new models on this list, the Tahoe is completely redesigned for the 2015 model year. The big SUV features a comfortable new interior with seating for up to nine passengers as well as plenty of cargo space. Available high-tech features include 4G LTE connectivity with built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless phone charging, a rear-seat entertainment system with Blu-ray player and up to six USB ports.
Midsize SUV — Jeep Grand Cherokee
Although most people won’t ever take advantage of its full capability, the Grand Cherokee really shines when the going gets rough. But even if it never leaves the pavement, the iconic SUV remains a comfortable ride with space for five passengers. This classic Jeep is available in a number of trims, including the luxurious Limited or high-performance SRT.
Premium Luxury Crossover SUV — BMW X5 (tie)
BMW calls the X5 a Sports-Activity Vehicle rather than a standard SUV. No matter what you call it, the X5 certainly emphasizes the “sport” in the name. Even the least expensive version boasts a 300-horsepower engine — or opt for the X5 M that produces 567 horsepower from its 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 powerplant.
Premium Luxury Crossover SUV — Mercedes-Benz M-Class (tie)
One of the earliest luxury SUVs on the market, the M-Class is the best-selling utility vehicle in the Mercedes lineup. The 5-passenger M-Class offers all the luxury amenities expected in a Mercedes-Benz, with engine options ranging from a fuel-efficient BlueTEC diesel to the ML63 AMG that boasts more than 500 horsepower. Look for the all-new GLE going on sale later this year; it replaces the current M-Class.
Luxury Crossover SUV — Buick Enclave
The Buick Enclave is one of the larger luxury crossovers on the market, providing the carlike ride expected from this type of vehicle but with space for up to seven passengers and a considerable amount of cargo. With styling that matches the rest of the Buick lineup, the Enclave can be equipped with available power-adjustable heated front seats, dual moonroof, a rearview camera, leather trim and a remote-vehicle starter system.
Large Crossover SUV — GMC Acadia
GMC’s Acadia is the twin to the Buick Enclave but can be configured to carry up to eight passengers — unusual in this SUV class. Adding to the GMC’s versatility, both rear rows can be folded flat to create a very large space that can handle cargo as wide as 48 inches. All-wheel drive is available, and when properly equipped the Acadia can tow up to 5,200 pounds.
Premium Midsize Crossover SUV — Nissan Murano
Nissan’s Murano enters its third generation as one of the more stylish crossovers on the market. Inside, drivers will find a large information and control center with an available 8-inch color touchscreen. In an effort to simplify controls, the number of audio and navigation switches has been reduced by 60 percent — from 25 to 10 — for a less distracting experience. An available power panoramic moonroof makes the Murano feel larger inside.
Midsize Crossover SUV — Honda CR-V
The best-selling SUV in the U.S. receives a major update for the 2015 model year. Although the CR-V’s shape remains basically the same, the grille and headlights are noticeably different. The CR-V also gets an updated interior with a number of new convenience and safety features, including a new 7-inch touchscreen displaying the telematics interface.
Compact Crossover SUV — Kia Sportage
One of four Kia models represented in this list of satisfaction award winners, the Sportage is a stylish 5-passenger crossover available with front-or all-wheel drive. As with other models from the Korean car company, the Sportage is a great value with prices starting at just $21,900. The sporty SUV has alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system and a number of safety features.
Minivan — Nissan Quest
It may not be the best-selling minivan in the industry, but the Quest certainly holds its own against competitors thanks to plenty of interior space and a number of innovative, useful features. Dual glass sunroofs help even third-row occupants feel less claustrophobic, and a conversation mirror at the front keeps those banished to the rear seats in constant view of the driver.
Most Satisfying Vehicle Overall | President’s Award — Kia K900
Not only did Kia’s flagship luxury sedan top the Luxury Car category, the K900 scored high enough in survey responses to earn the coveted President’s Award —given only when a vehicle scores higher than the current highest score. Previous recipients of this President’s Award were the 2014 Mercedes S-Class and the 2010 Hyundai Sonata.
Highest Satisfaction Premium Brand — Tesla
The Model S — currently Tesla’s only offering — didn’t earn a top spot in any category, but the brand itself rated high in satisfaction. The Model S is a fully-electric high-performance luxury sedan with a range that exceeds 250 miles. A new Model X SUV is due to arrive soon, and the company has also said they will bring a less-expensive electric car to market at a future date.
Highest Satisfaction Popular Brand — GMC
GMC is not largest brand in the General Motors portfolio, but based on the AutoPacific survey its vehicles are at the top in satisfaction. GMC is GM’s only brand that focuses specifically on trucks and SUVs — there are no passenger cars in the lineup.