AutoPacific Announces 2017 Ideal Vehicle Awards

0

AUTOPACIFIC ANNOUNCES 2017 IDEAL VEHICLE AWARDS – PORSCHE TOP BRAND AND TOP OVERALL VEHICLE; FORD MOTOR HAS MOST SEGMENT WINNERS

TUSTIN, Calif. (August 22, 2017) – Automotive research and consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc. today announced the 2017 Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA), recognizing vehicles that best meet their owner’s expectations and desires.

The 2017 awards are based on responses from more than 54,000 owners of new model year 2016 and 2017 vehicles across all major manufacturers. Respondents were asked what changes they would make to their car or truck in 15 key categories, including ride and handling, interior storage, safety features, power and acceleration and technology. “Even the most satisfied owner would change something about their vehicle if given the opportunity,” says George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. “AutoPacific’s IVAs identify vehicles whose owners want the least amount of change – those that are truly hitting the mark with owners.”

Porsche Returns to the Top

After being edged out by Tesla last year, Porsche returns to the top with wins for top brand and top overall vehicle, a testament to the brand’s ability to meet owner expectations in both the sports car and luxury crossover SUV segments in which it competes. “Winning a brand recognition speaks volumes about a brand’s product planning capabilities,” says Peterson. “While some brands do cars well, others do trucks or SUVs well. Success doesn’t always span a complete product line. Porsche has a small lineup, but has mastered polar opposite segments.” Porsche also has this year’s highest scoring vehicle overall, the 911, and wins the Premium Luxury Crossover and Luxury Crossover SUV segments with the Cayenne and Macan.

Ford Motor Company Runs Away with 2017 Ideal Vehicle Awards – Takes Home More Wins Than Any Other Manufacturer

Moving up substantially from prior years’ Ideal Vehicle Award results, Ford has winning vehicles in 5 segments, in addition to having the Most Ideal Popular brand. “You don’t get the best selling vehicles in America without giving owners what they want,” says Peterson. “Ford’s F-Series pickups give owners an ideal combination of performance, comfort, safety, and styling.” Additionally, the spaciousness and ease of getting in and out bring the Edge and Flex to the top and owners enjoy the Mustang’s visibility and seat fit.

Lincoln gets 2 segment wins, including the MKZ, which handily outscores the 2nd place Lexus ES and wins its segment for the 4th year in a row.  Navigator wins in its last year before it is replaced by a new generation Navigator.

It appears that the roll out of Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system has gone a long way in contributing to Ford’s 2017 results.

New Chrysler Pacifica and Genesis G90 Hit Mark with Owners

Chrysler’s debut of the Pacifica is a hit with owners, primarily in the areas of safety features, cargo space/cargo opening and passenger room. “In a segment where roominess and safety are top priorities for owners, the Chrysler Pacifica met expectations for 90% of owners – a strong showing that helped Chrysler solidify the top spot,” says Peterson.

The Genesis G90 was a clear winner in the Luxury Car segment, with strong performance in the areas of visibility, passenger room, safety features, ease of ingress/egress and interior storage.

Both the Pacifica and G90 were also AutoPacific 2017 Vehicle Satisfaction Award winners. The G90 won AutoPacific’s President’s Award as achieving the highest VSA score EVER!

The Advanced Technology Challenge

The highest attained ideal info/entertainment technology rating was in 2009, when 73% of vehicle owners said they would keep the same technology as now when asked if they would keep it the same, have more advanced technology, or have simpler, easier to use technology. Since then, owners have increasingly desired simpler, easier to use technology, while desire for more advanced technology has remained fairly steady – ranging from 23% to 29% from 2006 to 2017 (27% in 2017). “Consumers today would make 3 main changes to their vehicle if they could: more advanced technology, more safety features and more/better interior storage,” says Peterson. “Vehicles that are successful in AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award calculations typically do well in those three areas, yet also do well with the human-machine interface, integrating advanced technologies that are easy to use for owners.”

2017 Overall Winner: Porsche 911

2017 Most Ideal Brand Overall: Porsche

2017 Most Ideal Popular Brand: Ford

Passenger Cars
Luxury Car Genesis G90
Aspirational Luxury Car BMW 2-Series
Large Car Chevrolet Impala
Luxury Mid-Size Car Lincoln MKZ
Mid-Size Car Subaru Legacy
Premium Compact Car MINI Clubman
Compact Car Volkswagen Jetta
Economy Car Honda Fit
Sports Car Porsche 911
Sporty Car Ford Mustang
 
Light Trucks
Light Duty Pickup Ford F-150
Heavy Duty Pickup Ford F-Series Super Duty
Compact Pickup Honda Ridgeline
Luxury SUV Lincoln Navigator
Large SUV GMC Yukon XL
Mid-Size SUV Jeep Grand Cherokee
Premium Luxury Crossover SUV Porsche Cayenne
Luxury Crossover SUV Porsche Macan
Large Crossover SUV Ford Flex
Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV Ford Edge
Mid-Size Crossover SUV Honda CR-V
Compact Crossover SUV Kia Sportage
Minivan Chrysler Pacifica

About AutoPacific

AutoPacific is a future-oriented automotive marketing research and product-consulting firm. Every year AutoPacific publishes a wide variety of syndicated studies on the automotive industry. The firm, founded in 1986, also conducts extensive proprietary research, forecasting, and consulting for auto manufacturers, distributors, marketers and suppliers worldwide. Company headquarters and its state-of-the-art automotive research facility are in Tustin, California, with an affiliate office in the Detroit area. Additional information can be found on AutoPacific’s websites:  http://www.autopacific.com and http://vehiclevoice.com/

Contacts:

Dan Hall, dan.hall@autopacific.com, 714.838.4234

Posted in: Uncategorized

Continue Reading

Atomization – Sales per New Vehicle Nameplate Will Drop

2

 Atomization Continues Unabated  The American car and light truck market is undergoing atomization.  There are 313 car and truck nameplates on sale today in the United States.  By 2022 – just five years in the future – there are going to be 377.  A nameplate is a vehicle name like Ford Explorer, Renge Rover Evoque or Toyota Camry.

Car to Truck Shift Permanent  Manufacturers are adding new products to more tightly appeal to customers with more diverse tastes.  Buyers have shifted to crossover sport utility vehicles (XSUVs) in droves.  Automakers are adding more XSUVs to satisfy every whim.  Trucks began outselling cars in 2001, but since 2012 when cars last had 50% of the market truck sales have boomed.  Today, truck sales are about 61% of the market and AutoPacific forecasts that truck sales will reach 69% of the American light vehicle market by then.  In 2016 there were 178 car nameplates on sale.  Today there are 192.  In 2016, there were 147 truck nameplates on sales; now there are 153.  In 2022, there will be 199 truck nameplates and 178 car nameplates.

Atomization Means Fewer Sales Per Nameplate on Average  In 2016, sales per name were about 54,000 units each on average in a 17 million sales year.  This was up dramatically from the 2009 downturn year when there were 34,500 units sold per nameplate.  But the bad news is that all nameplates are not equal in sales.  Some sell in the thousands while others sell in the hundreds of thousands.

The top ten vehicles, led by the Ford F-Series pickups, accounted for 25% of the sales in 2016.  If you take the top ten sales out, average sales per nameplate in 2016 was 42,000 sales per year.  In 2022 it gets even worse.  AutoPacific is forecasting 16,200,000 sales in 2022, but there are 377 nameplates.  Taking the top ten nameplates out, the remaining 367 nameplates will sell only 32,700 each.  This puts average sales per nameplate in 2022 about the same as the downturn year of 2009.

Auto Marketing Wars to Continue  With so many individual nameplates on the market it will be difficult for auto marketers to support them.  Marketing budgets are not large enough to get this number of new nameplates in the car buyer’s consideration set.  As XSUVs continue to grow in popularity, traditional sedans will be allowed to languish or be dropped altogether.  At best, strong marketing support will be during the vehicle’s launch period and then taper off.  If a vehicle is a hit, it may continue to get TV time, but more and more targeted internet advertising will become the name of the game.  If a vehicle is not a hit, it will quickly become an unloved cash cow.

It’s no surprise that the Chief Marketing Officers at American automotive brands have a target on their back.  Failing to create the magic potion that will keep this huge number of nameplates moving off of dealer lots is hugely challenging.  Creative talent and huge amounts of money are required to continue succeeding in the upcoming more crowded vehicle market.

And… don’t forget the disruptive influence of electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and the changing driving/vehicle ownership environment of the next ten years.


Continue Reading

Revenue Generator – Which Vehicles Generate the Most Cash?

0

New car and light truck owners responding to AutoPacific‘s annual New Vehicle Satisfaction Survey, provide the price they paid for their vehicle.  That price is what the buyer pays the dealer.  A vehicle that is a strong revenue generator is golden to the health of a brand.  Of course the revenue is split into many smaller and smaller pieces.  Simplistically, the dealer buys the vehicle from the manufacturer and sells it at a profit.  And that is about as complicated as we are going to get, because that is not the story we are chasing.

We want to know which vehicles generate the most revenue.  This is analysis is rough.  We use the median price paid from AutoPacific’s research and multiply that times the numbers of vehicles sold in 2016.  Each of the top ten vehicles generated $10 billion or more of revenue.

AutoPacific Revenue Analysis by Vehicle Line

F-Series Top Revenue Generator  The top revenue generator was the Ford F-Series.  Not only is the F-Series the top selling vehicle in the market, about 30% of its sales are of very expensive Super Duty models.  Our rough estimate of the F-Series revenue is about $38.5 billion.  This may be low, because Super Duties may be under-represented because many are commercial use that are not included in the research.

Top Four in Revenue are Pickups  Following the F-Series, the top revenue generators are in order:  Chevrolet Silverado ($27 billion), Ram ($24 billion), GMC Sierra ($11 billion).  Combined, the Silverado and Sierra about equal the overall revenue of the F-Series.

Five Through Seven are SUVs  The top selling crossover SUV is the Honda CR-V and it is the first non-puckup on the list.  It generates almost $11 billion in revenue.  The sixth top revenue generator is the Toyota RAV4 at about $10.5 billion.  The CR-V and RAV4 are expected to be Honda’s and Toyota’s top sellers for 2017 outselling the Accord and Camry.  The Ford Explorer sells for about $12,000 more per vehicle than the CR-V, but sells 110,000 less vehicles.  Nevertheless it is 7th on the list generating about $10.4 billion.

Camry and Accord are 8th and 9th Top Revenue Generator  The previously top selling non-pickups were the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.  By AutoPacific’s analysis, Accord generated $10.4 billion in revenue in 2018 while the Camry generated $10.2 billion.

Nissan Rogue Caps Off The Top Ten  The Nissan Rogue crossover SUV is tenth top revenue vehicle with about $9.7 billion.  Having shot above Altima in sales, Rogue is Nissan’s top revenue vehicle line.

 


Continue Reading

Mid-Size Sedan Onslaught – New Camry, Accord, Sonata

0

Up until 2016, the mid-size sedan was the top selling product segment in the USA light vehicle market.  That has changed substantially as buyers are flocking to crossover SUVs that offer more utility at little expense over sedans.  That does not mean carmakers are abandoning mid-size sedans.  On the contrary, they have to keep their top selling mid-size sedan entries fresh and competitive.

Source: AutoPacific, Inc.

Three high volume 2018 model year mid-size sedans are launching in Fall 2017.  All three are from Asian brands.  The Korean brand Hyundai Sonata is assembled in Montgomery, Alabama.  The Japanese brand Toyota Camry is assembled in Georgetown, Kentucky.  The Japanese brand Honda Accord is assembled in Marysville, Ohio.  Some would say that these sedans are the most American cars on the road.

All three are excellent cars and all three are trying to vacate typical anodyne mid-size car styling.  The Accord and Camry are all new cars.  The Sonata is a major redesign to its front and rear styling.  All three are much more expressive than before.

2018 Toyota Camry

Toyota Camry  Toyota’s longtime sales champ, the Camry mid-size sedan, is all-new for the 2018 model year. As this iconic model line has consistently topped sales charts but is often derided for being dull and boring, the 2018 Camry wears much more expressive and in XSE trim, at least, genuinely sporty styling. Toyota undoubtedly hopes that the revitalized looks of the latest Camry will help it shed its stodgy image.

Toyota launches its new Toyota New Global Architecture platform with the 2018 Camry mid-size sedan.  The TNGA platform will be used for the other Toyota cars built at Georgetown: Lexus ES aspirational luxury car and the Toyota Avalon large car.  When Avalon moves to the platform in 2018 they are expected to move the RAV4 crossover into the plant.  The next generation Toyota Highlander crossover SUV and Toyota Sienna minivan will likely move to the TNGA platform and continue to be built in Princeton, Indiana.

Part of the new Camry’s more appealing looks come from its lower proportions. In recent years, sedans have typically gotten taller with higher seating positions to emulate what makes SUVs so popular: great visibility, easy ingress and egress, and a chair-like driving position. However, as market preference towards SUVs has now been well established and sedan share is rapidly dropping, Toyota saw an opportunity to make the Camry a real car again. After all, those who want to sit up high will buy one of Toyota’s many able SUVs anyway. If Camry sales are (by Toyota’s own admission) expected to drop at the hand of the almighty SUV, why not make Camry more differentiated from its high-riding SUV lineup?

So, the new Camry’s seating and roof heights are about an inch lower than before, giving it a sleeker and more aggressive profile than any Camry before it. The seating position is also more sporty too. The interior is a massive step up in appeal too, with expensive looking materials, textures, shapes, and colors that dramatically up the Camry’s desirability. Toyota hasn’t ignored technology either. While lacking Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Toyota’s latest Entune 3.0 infotainment system with its standard App Suite and standard navigation is easy to use. Notably, Toyota’s TSS-P suite of safety technologies, which includes forward collision alert with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane keeping assist is standard on every Camry.

Camry’s base engine is a 206-horsepower 2.5L 4-cylinder.  Its V6 option is a 301-horsepower 3.5L V6 mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Though this generation will no longer hold Toyota’s sales crown (which is being taken over by RAV4), it certainly looks to be the most appealing and engaging Camry yet.

2018 Honda Accord Touring

2018 Honda Accord Touring

Honda Accord  The all-new 2018 Honda Accord mid-size sedan takes a page out of the latest Camry’s playbook, but that’s no bad thing. Like the 2018 Camry, the 2018 Accord rides on an all-new platform and features lower seating height and a lower roofline, abandoning prior generations’ goals of trying to imbue the mid-size sedan with SUV-like interior packaging. Like Camry, Accord’s sales crown at Honda is being transferred to an SUV model, namely the CR-V. This latest Accord is set to lose sales compared to prior generations not because of any inherent flaws, but because market preference has been rapidly shifting to SUVs.

For those who prefer sedans over SUVs, the Accord is a real winner. Its lower seating and roofline don’t result in less interior space; both cabin and trunk space have increased over the last generation’s already generous cabin and cargo hold dimensions, partially due to a longer wheelbase that also improves the car’s exterior proportions. Speaking of proportions, it’s hard not to think Audi A7 when looking at the new Accord in profile; its fastback roofline and pert tail – combined with the longer wheelbase – help give the sedan a luxurious presence.

Also contributing to that luxurious presence is the styling, which possesses a delicateness not seen in recent Honda products. The detailing is crisp and not overdone as is the case in many Hondas. The visual appeal of the new Accord is in its proportions and detailing; the heavy handedness of other recent Honda designs is absent here.  Unlike Toyota, Honda uses more bright-work to highlight the grille.  There is a bright arch sweeping from the A-Pillar down into the rear quarter (similar to the Kia Optima).  The bodyside lower is accented by a bright swoosh line flowing rear from just behind the front wheel opening, through the lower doors and peaking at the rear fascia.  There is a dainty bright highlight on the lower rear fascia above the the bright exhaust tips.

The new Accord does differ from Camry in a key way: its powertrain strategy. Unlike Camry, which sticks with traditional naturally aspirated four- and six-cylinder engines, the Accord moves to an all four-cylinder lineup with a 192-horsepower 1.5L direct injected turbo as the volume engine and a 252-horsepower 2.0L direct injected turbo replacing last generation’s V6. A new non-turbo 2.0L hybrid four is also available. Not that it matters to anyone but the buff books, but a six-speed manual is available on both turbo engines. In practice, nearly all 2018 Accords will have automatic transmissions; the 1.5 is paired to a CVT while the 2.0 is paired to a brand-new ten-speed unit. The hybrid will be paired to a two-motor e-CVT transmission.

Like Camry, a full complement of safety technologies are standard, with Honda Sensing (automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and traffic sign recognition) installed on every 2018 Accord. Infotainment is upgraded too, and a head-up display is available for the first time.

2018 Hyundai Sonata – LaJolla, CA

2018 Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai Sonata  The Hyundai Sonata mid-size car gets a major freshening for the 2018 model year.  The present Sonata has been criticized for getting too conservative when changing from the very avant garde 2010 model.  Senior management probably were surprised at the success of the 2010, but could not muster the will to keep the pedal to the metal.  The 2018 Sonata goes a long way in correcting that strategic error.

The front and rear styling is all new.  Like Toyota and Honda, Hyundai is adopting a much more expressive grille and front face.  They describe the grill surround as being a “cascade”.  There are two different grill textures – horizontal and diamond shaped mesh.  The front fascia is highlighted by a horizontal bright strip flowing from side to side.  Hyundai describes this as a “catamaran blade”.  Hyundai continues with the bright spear flowing from the front fenders back to surround the windows.  In profile, the Sonata is similar to the Camry and Accord.  Even though this is a freshening, the car looks as up to date as the all new Camry and Accord.

The interior has been freshened with material upgrades throughout.  The center stack has been redesigned and ergonomics are excellent.  Hyundai has found a way to make its blind spot warning system affordable and has made it standard on all 2018 Sonatas.

There are changes under the skin as well.  Chassis tuning has been improved making this the best handling Sonata ever.  Steering feel has been improved and the ride feels more taut than before, but not in a bad way.  The rear suspension has also been upgraded.

Sonata’s base engine is a 185-horsepower 2.4L 4-cylinder.   The Eco model gets a 178-horsepower 1.6L Turbo 4-cylinder.  The top engine is a 245-horsepower 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder.  The 2.0L Turbo vehicles get an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Competitive Battleground  There are ten major competitors in the mid-size sedan market in the USA.  Three are all new or freshened for 2018.  Two will get major changes in 2019.  Three will be all new or get a major change in 2020.  Even though the segment is beset by woes stemming from crossover SUV popularity, the mid-size sedan segment will remain fresh and competitive.  The new Accord looks like a real winner and promises to continue sparring with Camry for sales dominance in the mid-size sedan segment, even as the segment itself is in decline. The Sonata will hold its own.  For those who really like cars (and not SUVs),  the new Accord, Camry and Sonata provide a lot to get excited over.


Continue Reading

Envision an Autonomous Car Chase Scene

0
Source: George Peterson

Volkswagen XL Diesel Hybrids in Wolfsburg, Germany. Not Autonomous

I was watching “Live Free or Die Hard” recently.  As with most of the Bruce Willis “Die Hard” genre, there were exciting chase scenes where dozens of Crown Victorias get smashed up or full of bullet holes.  That is the name of the game for the “Die Hard” movies.  Chase scenes where the hero invariably gets injured but comes back to battle the bad guys after no recuperation time are the norm.  There were five “Die Hard” movies.  There were 8.5 “Fast and Furious” movies.  Epic chase scenes abound from “Bullitt”, “The French Connection”, Ronin, every James Bond movie, “The Blues Brothers” mall chase scene.  Chase scenes are too numerous to count, but what impact is the autonomous car going to have on screenwriters going forward?

Some films have dealt with that in the past. In 1990’s “Total Recall”, a frustrated Arnold Schwarzenegger rips the robot out of the Johnny Cab he was trying to use as a getaway car.   Speech recognition was not the same in 1990 as it is in 2017.  Siri could have handled Arnold.  “Demolition Man” uses a non-autonomous car to wreak havoc through the self-driving police fleet.  Agent Coulsen, the head guy in Marvel’s “Agents of Shield” franchise carries his 1962 Corvette roadster where ever he goes.  When there is an Electro-Magnetic Pulse that puts modern cars out of commission, the Corvette runs just fine.

Questions for Future Screen Writers – Smart Cars Impact on the Chase  If the mobility world changes the way the prognosticators are prognosticating, what will the films in the future look like?  Will they all be set in the past so Crown Vics can still duel it out with today’s Chargers?  Are they set in the “now” where old vehicles interact with new autonomous vehicles?  Are the bad guys hackers that can control not only their own autonomous car, but also control the surrounding traffic and the vehicle(s) chasing them?  Maybe the government outlaws a person driving a vehicle on public roads at all.  Driving becomes restricted to special tracks.  This will change the face of crime dramatically!

Smart Streets Impact on the Chase  Will the streets be so smart they could defeat the bad guys themselves?  Controlling stop lights and opening and closing lanes will probably be simple tasks for a smart street in the future.  Anti-traffic bollards could be raised from the streets to stop the chase.

Ethics of Vehicle Autonomy  Those are simple questions for the movies.  There are real world ethics questions over vehicle and traffic control.

Autonomous Vehicle MUST Follow the Law, or Must They?  If an autonomous car is programmed to exactly follow the speed limit, you can envision four abreast autonomous cars on a Los Angeles freeway traveling at exactly 55mph.  They may be driving at the speed limit, as per law.  But they are creating an extremely dangerous situation unless every vehicle is autonomous and following the same programming.  During the Jimmy Carter presidency, after implementation of the 55mph federal speed limit, drivers from Ann Arbor to Detroit drove the I-94 freeway two-or-three abreast at exactly 55mph.  This lasted a few days with motorists passing them on the shoulders and giving them the finger.  They were eventually cited by the Michigan State Police for impeding the flow of traffic.

Source: Los Angeles Times

OJ Simpson Slow Speed Chase – Los Angeles 1994

Autonomous vehicle ethics need to accommodate the reality of chaotic traffic flow, different vehicle capabilities, and, until everything is autonomous, different driving styles.

Remote Vehicle Control  Over the past twenty years in automotive research, AutoPacific has been asked by automakers and suppliers to research all sorts of autonomous car and autonomous-like features.  In Europe, a discussion of driver opinions of GPS systems with vehicle tracking capabilities results in,  “Sacre bleu!  I don’t want my boss to know where I am!  I don’t want my wife to know where I am!”  While drivers might not want vehicle tracking in their car or on their body, they may be too late in resisting.  After the Boston Marathon bombing, Mercedes-Benz USA located the Mercedes ML the bombers car-jacked.  So, today, vehicles with a navigation system can probably be tracked.  Most action thrillers on TV have the authorities or the bad guys locating folks on their smartphones. No problem.  It’s tough to hide anymore.

Another scenario is when the police are chasing the bad guys.  Think about OJ Simpson and his famous slow speed chase.  Today, if he had a fully up-to-date SUV, could the authorities put it into limp mode, and then into stop mode?

The certainty is that driving in the United States is going to dramatically evolve over the next ten years as technology, communications, regulations and consumer sentiment all converge on the idea of autonomous driving and its impact on our lives and culture.


Continue Reading

Jeep Renegade Survives Costco Challenge

0

2017 Jeep Renegade Deserthawk

Having a new Jeep Renegade Trailhawk over the long July 4th weekend, I took it to Costco for the quarterly bird seed, cat food replenishment.  At first I was wondering if the Renegade was up to the task.  Does a small crossover SUV have the capacity to take the load?

There were fourteen bags of bird seed and two of cat food.  Plus the package of 30 rolls of toilet paper.  Would they fit?  Plus, would they fit with the other stuff we bought?  Removing the tonneau cover over the cargo area and folding the rear seats were required to fit in the load.  There was room to spare.  Probably could have doubled the number of bird seed and cat food bags.

Renegade Survives Costco Run

Renegade Easily Takes Load from Costco

Small Crossover SUVs are Very Capable  Even the smallest of the new generation crossover SUVs are extremely capable as this brief test shows.  The booming sales of small and mid-size crossover SUVs is the reason sales of traditional passenger cars are down.  Responding to what vehicle buyers have been telling us they want since the late 1980s, the new crossovers fit the bill.  They are easy to get into and out of.  You don’t have to drop down into one like in a car.  The seating position is chair like.  Your legs are not extended forward.  More glass and the higher seating position provide optimum visibility.  The fold down rear seat combined with an open rear cargo area maximize load carrying capability.

Trailhawk “Deserthawk”  This Jeep Renegade had the Deserthawk 4×4 package ($1,395) to yield the ultimate off-road Renegade.  It is another answer from Jeep on their old saying “a Jeep is for the occasional use prerogative”.  On-road or off-road, the Deserthawk can do it all.  Taking this particular Renegade off-road even with the full load, would have been no problem.  The challenge would be to keep the cargo in place, or to fill it even more deeply so nothing could move around.

Pricing for Everybody  Not only can the Jeep Renegade carry an impressive amount of cargo and be capable off-road, the vehicle can be loaded with amenities.  The base price for the front wheel drive Sport model is $17,995.  The Trailhawk is $26,895.  Adding practically all the optional features and selecting the Deserthawk package you can pay $33,265.  At that level you get a blind spot monitoring system, UConnect navigation system, automatic temperature control, Selec-Terrain 4×4 system, hill descent control, hill start assist, and more.  One thing oddly missing is a remote liftgate release. There is a nice blank spot on the key fob for that feature, but it is not there.  Go figure.  In July 2017, Jeep is offering a lease discount of $4,250.

Powertrain a Bit Balky  The 180-horsepower 2.4L 4-cylinder Multi-Air engine is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission.  This combination is fine most of the time around town, but when you need to quickly accelerate there is an unwelcome hesitation.  Slam the accelerator to the floor, wait, wait, then the engine decides you really do want full power and it gives it to you.  Too much hesitation for my book. Maybe an owner would learn to compensate after driving the Renegade for a week or so.


Continue Reading

Can All New VW Tiguan Challenge Top Selling Small SUVs?

0

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL Premium

The all new Volkswagen Tiguan was revealed at a low key media event driving out of Denver, CO up to 8,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains.  While the VW Tiguan is classified as a Compact Crossover Sport Utility Vehicle (XSUV), it’s dimensions are close to that of an ideal mid-size car of a decade ago – wheelbase of about 110-inches and overall length of about 185-inches.  It is a nice size, has a comfortable interior with adequate room in the second row seat and even has a third row seat available.  Front wheel drive Tiguans have the third row seat standard.  In all wheel drive VW Tiguans, the third row is optional.

The 2018 VW Tiguan is the second generation of the smaller VW XSUV.  It is about 10-inches longer than its predecessor.  At-a-glance, the styling is clearly Volkswagen.  It is evolutionary but crisper and clearly more modern.  The VW Tiguan rides on Volkswagen’s modular MQB platform that also underpins the newly introduced Volkswagen Atlas crossover. The replacement for Volkswagen’s 4-door CC coupe – the Arteon – will be based on MQB when it is launched in 2018.  The present Golf is also an MQB platform mate.

Compact XSUV Competitive Landscape  Having been underrepresented in the SUV market before now, Volkswagen’s two SUV introductions this year show the automaker has clearly heeded the shift in the market away from cars and towards crossover SUVs.  Today the truck/car split is about 60% trucks/40% cars.  Who woulda thought?

While VW management will not talk about future products, there are whispers of a couple of more XSUVs.  Probably one a bit smaller than the VW Tiguan and maybe one larger than the Atlas.  Somewhere in the mix, the aging Touareg still is sold.

Through May 2017, the 1st generation Tiguan has sold about 15,000 units in the USA down from 17,500 in 2016 for the same time period.  Where Volkswagen has fully competitive products in the USA, they usually sell at about 50% of the segment leader.  So, with the May CYTD leader being the Nissan Rogue with over 161,000 units sold, Tiguan should sell about that many in a full calendar year.  While that would be great, VW’s Pueblo, Mexico plant probably doesn’t have capacity to pump out that many Tiguans.  And the compact XSUV battleground is vicious with Rogue, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape and Chevrolet Equinox leading the pack.  Tough competition.

Tiguan Feature Laden, But Not Perfect  The VW Tiguan is in the sweet spot though.  Easy to get into and out of, the ergonomics are top-notch.  The center screen is big and bright, but the information is a bit confusing.  The road/street name does not show on the navigation screen like on most competing makes.  You can find that information in the instrument cluster where turn-by-turn arrows anticipate your next turn but the fonts are tiny and contrast is bad.  Having Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard is the saving grace to save the VW navigation from itself.

There is a full complement of advanced driver assistance features available from adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go, blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert with braking, lane assist, area view.  There is even a 12.3-inch reconfigurable display for the instrument cluster.  Availability of these features is the price of entry in almost any class today.

Driving Tiguan, Adequate  The VW Tiguan is powered by a 184-horsepower 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo engine (EA888).  In the front wheel drive model, the engine is responsive but a bit noisy.  The same engine in the AWD model seemed to resist responding quickly seeming to think about whether or not it wanted to go or not.  Perplexing.  All in all, the Tiguan engine is “adequate”.  Its power output is competitive for the segment, but somehow it doesn’t have the finesse of the Honda CR-V for instance.

The ride is firm and composed over most road surfaces.  The Tiguan evaluation route did have one stretch that was bumpy and had a washboard surface.  The front wheel drive Tiguan danced around dramatically even at moderate speeds.  Drivers of the AWD model reported similar dynamics over this particular piece of road.  The vehicle did not feel particularly under control.

Price Competitive  The base price for the front wheel drive 2018 VW Tiguan is $25,345.  The top price is $37,550 for an AWD SEL model.  Checking all the boxes can get its price up to about $40,000.  Following its lead with the Atlas, the Tiguan has a 6-year, 72,000 mile warranty.


Continue Reading

Mid-Year Review of Fuel Price Impact on American Drivers

0

Fuel Price Impact on American Drivers Has Changed

Every two months, AutoPacific surveys drivers to determine the fuel price impact on their lives, their driving styles and their consideration for vehicle types in the future.  The fuel price impact today is dramatically different from the surprise price spike to $4.15 per gallon in June 2008.  Drivers reacted dramatically.  They abandoned large SUVs and bought high fuel economy small cars and hybrids instead.  Hybrid consideration peaked at 29% in September 2008.

Drivers took huge financial losses getting rid of their gas guzzlers, but they quickly rued that decision.  By December 2008 the price of gasoline had dropped to $1.67 per gallon.  (The value of $1.67 in 2008 is $1.94 in today’s dollars).  This began a roller coaster ride of gas prices.  By January 2011, gas prices had risen to over $3 per gallon and stayed there until December 2014.  Today, the national price of a gallon of gasoline is about $2.50.

American Driver Know Fuel Prices Will Change  The result is that American drivers do not trust the stability of gasoline prices.  In 2008, fuel price was among the top ten attributes people considered important when they bought a new car.  Now, fuel price is twentieth.  In fact, fuel price is considered less important now than power and acceleration and fun to drive.

At the last peak in 2011, almost 60% said gas prices had a (negative) impact on their standard of living.  Today, that number has halved to 30%.  More people are feeling they can afford a more expensive, less fuel efficient vehicle.  Of course, longer financing terms and increases in leasing also has stimulated their buying behavior.

Honda CR-V Top Selling Crossover SUV

Cars Losing, Crossover SUVs Winning  Consequently, trucks rule. Based on the results of the Fuel Price Impact Survey, consideration for cars has been steadily slipping since 2005. In December 2005, 67% of drivers would consider a car next time they bought.  In 2017, that number has fallen to  49%.  The vehicle segment with the strongest consideration is, surprise, SUVs and Crossover SUVs with 37% of drivers saying they would consider one next time they buy.  That is up from 21% in 2005.  Mid-Size Car consideration has dropped from 27% in 2005 to 12% today.  Hybrid, the fuel efficiency darling, has fallen from 29% consideration in 2008 to 13% today.

This change in vehicle type consideration has caught some automakers by surprise.  Hyundai is a notable example where sales are off substantially.  They simply don’t have enough SUVs to sell even though they have added extra capacity for the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport to their plant in Alabama.  Like Porsche when that German brand added the Cayenne SUV, Jaguar has seen its sales double after adding the F-Pace SUV to their lineup.

Regulations Forcing Automakers to Produce Vehicles That May Be Tough to Sell  Even though fuel price is lower on the importance list and buyers are flocking to Crossover SUVs, more and more hybrids and electric vehicles are being introduced every year.  The introduction of these new fuel efficient cars and trucks has been to meet the stringent government fuel economy regulations established by the Obama Administration.  As good and as fuel efficient as these new vehicles are, they will need a marketing push to sell them.  Automakers cannot expect “consumer pull” to get these vehicles on the road.  With the price of fuel staying relatively low, American new vehicle buyers are going to buy what they want.  This means continuing popularity for Crossover SUVs at the expense of Mid-Size Cars and Small Cars.

Potential changes to fuel economy regulations will impact how the auto industry reacts, but stopping or slowing the surge of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles is not in the cards.  Too many sunk costs and resources already.


Continue Reading

Genesis G90 Luxury Car Sets New Satisfaction Record

0

Source:  George PetersonG90 Satisfies its Owners to the Max  Launching a new brand with an all new car is a huge challenge.  Launching in the luxury space is even more of a challenge.  Hyundai, the top Korean manufacturer,  launched its Genesis brand in late 2015.  The 2017 Genesis G90 Luxury Car followed in 2016.  Owners of the new Genesis G90 have rated their satisfaction with their car.  Their ratings have the G90 achieving the all-time highest score in AutoPacific’s 2017 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research.  Hyundai has established a new benchmark with the Genesis G90 in its first year out.

Most vehicles are well-made today.  The key is in the execution.  Is the vehicle intuitive to use?  Are the electronics easy to understand?  Is the powertrain smooth and seamless?  Is the interior quiet and comfortable?  Is the dealership experience special?  For the G90, the execution is excellent. Excellent car.  Excellent experience with the dealer.  This is from a Korean manufacturer that just began building its quality mojo in 1999.  Job well done.

Satisfaction Results Distributed Across Segments  The rest of the industry has not been standing still.  All major automakers have at least some design and engineering capabilities in the United States.  Winning vehicles show product design that caters to American tastes.  Winning vehicles also show that the sales organizations are listening to their customers to provide a satisfying sales experience.

The top brand in the satisfaction research is Lincoln closely followed by Cadillac and Genesis.  The top popular brand is General Motors’ GMC truck brand.

There are twenty-three segments in AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award research.  Eight were won by American brands.  Seven were won by Japanese brands.  Four were won by Korean brands. Four were won by European brands.

Nissan is the top brand with five category wins.  Kia is second with three.

Only one American CAR won its class.  The Dodge Challenger is the top ranked in the Sporty Car category.  The other nine car categories were won by Japanese, Korean and European brands.  Seven of the eight awards won by the American brands are in truck and SUV categories.

One surprise is that the Nissan Titan won the light duty full size pickup truck award.  The new Titan was a dark horse in a race including the vaunted aluminum Ford F-150 and the Chevrolet, GMC and Ram half-ton pickups.  Another interesting result is in the Compact Pickup category.  The Honda Ridgeline handily won top spot.  While “real” truckers disdain the Ridgeline’s small pickup bed (that is integral with its body) and plush ride, Honda has provided a pickup that is luxurious and quiet like a SUV but with adequate pickup capability.  The “trunk” in its pickup bed is a great idea.


Continue Reading

AutoPacific Announces 2017 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

0

AutoPacific Announces 2017 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

Lincoln Most Satisfying Premium Brand; GMC Most Satisfying Popular Brand

TUSTIN, Calif. (June 7, 2017)AutoPacific today announced its 21st annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards (VSAs), identifying the most satisfying vehicles in the market. An industry benchmark for measuring how satisfied an owner is with his/her new vehicle, VSAs are based on survey responses from over 54,000 owners of new 2016 and 2017 cars and light trucks.

“This is the 21st anniversary of AutoPacific identifying the most satisfying vehicles and providing consumers a way to streamline their search for their perfect vehicle,” says AutoPacific president George Peterson. AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Awards objectively measure owner satisfaction with 49 separate attributes ranging from interior comfort and styling to fuel economy and performance. “VSAs look at the big picture, which includes owners’ experiences with their vehicle’s quality and safety, but also goes deeper into the heart of the ownership experience.”

Lincoln is the most satisfying premium brand, regaining leadership from Tesla and nosing out domestic luxury competitor Cadillac. The newcomer Genesis brand from Hyundai ranks third – close behind Lincoln and Cadillac. GMC is the top ranked popular brand, retaking the lead from 2016’s top popular brand, Kia.

VSAs Globally Distributed Among Japanese, American, Korean and European Automakers

Eight VSAs are won by Japanese brands. Seven VSAs are won by American brands. Korean brands take home four VSA Awards. European brands also have four VSA Awards.

Overall for 2017, Nissan receives the most wins with 5, followed by Kia with 3. Porsche, Honda and Ford each have 2 wins. Genesis, Volvo, Mini, Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, GMC, Lexus, and Lincoln each take home 1 win.

In a market where vehicles continue to raise the bar for owner satisfaction, AutoPacific recognizes another President’s Award winner this year: the 2017 Genesis G90. This award is given only when the overall score tops the previous high score. The previous President’s Award winners were the 2016 Cadillac Escalade, 2015 Kia K900, 2014 Mercedes S-Class and the 2010 Hyundai Sonata.

Seven All-New or Redesigned Vehicles Top Their Segment

Of the twenty-three winning vehicles, seven were redesigned for the 2017 model year, including the Genesis G90, Kia Cadenza, Nissan Titan, Ford F-Series Super Duty, Honda Ridgeline, Kia Sportage and Chrysler Pacifica. “Product planners hold their breath after the release of a new, or redesigned, vehicle, hoping that all their research, designing and planning has successful results,” says Peterson who worked as a product planner prior to founding AutoPacific thirty-one years ago. “Six of the seven redesigned vehicles, the Genesis G90, Kia Cadenza, Ford Super Duty, Honda Ridgeline, Kia Sportage and Chrysler Pacifica, greatly exceed the scores of their nearest segment competitors – big wins in such a competitive industry.”


2017 VEHICLE SATISFACTION AWARD WINNERS

President’s Award (Highest VSA Score to Date): Genesis G90

Most Satisfying Vehicle Overall: Genesis G90

Highest Satisfaction Premium Brand: Lincoln

Highest Satisfaction Popular Brand: GMC

PASSENGER CARS:

Luxury Car

Aspirational Luxury Car

Luxury Mid-Size Car

Large Car

Mid-Size Car

Premium Compact Car

Compact Car

Economy Car

Sports Car

Sporty Car

Genesis G90

Volvo S60/V60

Nissan Maxima

Kia Cadenza

Kia Optima

MINI Clubman

Honda Civic

Nissan Versa

Porsche 911

Dodge Challenger

LIGHT TRUCKS:

Light Duty Pickup

Heavy Duty Pickup

Compact Pickup

Luxury SUV

Large SUV

Mid-Size SUV

Premium Luxury Crossover SUV

Luxury Crossover SUV

Large Crossover SUV

Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV

Mid-Size Crossover SUV

Compact Crossover SUV

Minivan

Nissan Titan

Ford F-Series Super Duty

Honda Ridgeline

Lincoln Navigator

GMC Yukon XL

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Porsche Cayenne

Lexus RX

Ford Flex

Nissan Murano

Nissan Rogue

Kia Sportage

Chrysler Pacifica

About AutoPacific

AutoPacific is a future-oriented automotive marketing research and product-consulting firm. Every year AutoPacific publishes a wide variety of syndicated studies on the automotive industry. The firm also conducts extensive proprietary research and consulting for auto manufacturers, distributors, marketers and suppliers worldwide. Company headquarters are in Tustin, California, with an affiliate office in the Detroit area. Additional information about AutoPacific and the Vehicle Satisfaction Awards can be found on AutoPacific’s websites: www.autopacific.com and www.vehiclevoice.com.

Contacts

Dan Hall dan.hall@autopacific.com 714.838.4234

George Peterson george.peterson@autopacific.com 714.838.4234

 

 

Posted in: Uncategorized

Continue Reading

Follow VehicleVoice

RSS Feed   Facebook   Twitter

Membership

Join

Recent Winners

Sid P., Washington - $100
Ken G., Nevada - $100
Brad T., Wisconsin - $100
Tom M., Virginia - $100
Kathy F., New Jersey - $100
John M., Massachusetts - $100
Mike M., California - $100
Carol R., Texas - $100
James D., Georgia - $100
Martha B., New Jersey - $100
Kerry B., Pennsylvania - $100

What is VehicleVoice?

About Vehicle Voice