The best and worst car brands for customer satisfaction in 2017


American car buyers are less satisfied in 2017 — especially with domestic brands — according to the latest results from the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Read more: Best and worst auto insurance companies

American car buyers are less satisfied, new survey finds

GM was the only Detroit automaker to gain in customer satisfaction this year, the ACSI study found. Foreign-made vehicles continue to have the highest driver satisfaction, led by Toyota and Lexus with scores of 86 on ACSI’s scale of 0 to 100.

Overall, customer satisfaction with automobiles and light vehicles slipped 1.2% to a score of 81. That comes as total car sales fell 11.4% for the first half of the year.

Here’s the list of automakers, ranked from best to worst in customer satisfaction:

  • Lexus (Toyota): 86
  • Toyota:  86
  • Subaru: 85
  • GMC (GM): 84
  • Mercedes-Benz: 84
  • Cadillac (GM): 83
  • Hyundai: 83
  • Lincoln (Ford): 83
  • Audi (Volkswagen): 82
  • BMW: 82
  • Kia: 82
  • Mazda: 82
  • Volvo: 82
  • Chevrolet (GM): 81
  • Honda: 81
  • All others: 80
  • Acura (Honda): 80
  • Buick (GM):  80
  • Jeep (Fiat Chrysler): 80
  • Nissan:  80
  • Chrysler (Fiat Chrysler): 79
  • Ford: 79
  • Volkswagen: 79
  • Mitsubishi: 78
  • Dodge (Fiat Chrysler): 75
  • Fiat (Fiat Chrysler): 75

One contributing factor? Auto recalls. The percentage of owners reporting recalls has increased steadily since 2013, according to the study. Nearly a third of drivers surveyed had their vehicle recalled this year.

ACSI chairman and founder Claes Fornell summed up the findings this way:

“Chances are that we have seen this movie before. There was a surge in demand and increasing customer satisfaction with foreign cars in the 1980s, mostly because the domestic auto industry had difficulty keeping up. While U.S. cars have improved much over the years, they have not been as consistent in quality and customer satisfaction compared with their international counterparts. Experience with the Great Recession shows that this movie does not have a good ending unless major steps are taken ‘ not another Government bailout, but rather a renewed focus on how to create satisfied and loyal customers.”

The ACSI report is based on 3,934 customer surveys collected between July 2016 and June 2017.

Money expert Clark Howard notes that Toyota and Lexus, which topped this list, are generally some of the least expensive vehicles to repair over time. Read more here.

“Look first at cars that your fellow American has been by far the happiest with,” Clark said.

Read more: The eye-opening truth about dealer invoice prices


Buying gas from a station on this list is better for your car

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