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AutoPacific Announces 2004
Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

Results of a study released by noted automotive consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc. reveal high owner satisfaction with new 2004 model year cars and light trucks. AutoPacific's VSA (Vehicle Satisfaction Award) study is an industry benchmark for objectively measuring owner satisfaction with their new vehicles.

Lincoln is highest-rated brand for 2004, winning by a nose in a photo finish with Cadillac and Lexus. These three brands have "owned" AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Awards since 2001. Cadillac won in 2001, shared top honors with Lexus in 2002 and won outright again in 2003.

The vehicle registering highest overall satisfaction for a fifth consecutive year is Lexus LS430. The highest-rated truck is Cadillac's Escalade EXT sport utility truck. This is Escalade EXT's second victory in as many years. Its 2004 score only one point behind the gold-standard LS430 represents quite an accomplishment for both a domestic manufacturer and a "truck".

General Motors has four winners this year, tops among the various corporations. The GM winners are Cadillac DeVille, taking the American Luxury Car category for the third year in a row, Pontiac Grand Prix the Premium Mid-Size Car category, Cadillac Escalade EXT the Light Duty Pickup category, and the new Chevrolet Colorado the Compact Pickup category. DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group wins with PT Cruiser in Compact Sport Utility, Dodge Ram HD in Large Heavy-Duty Pickup. Its Mercedes-Benz of North America arm wins with its SL in the Sports Car category. American Honda registers two corporate victories with Acura RSX tops among Sporty Cars and Honda Odyssey winning Minivan honors, as does Ford with Mazda 6 in Standard Mid-Size Car and Lincoln Navigator in Luxury Sport Utility. Rounding out the list of multiple winners is Nissan-USA, which wins two awards with the Entry Luxury Maxima and the new Armada Large SUV. Armada's victory is particularly notable in that it is a completely new vehicle with new chassis, powertrain and body, built in an all-new greenfield plant in Mississippi by a workforce that for the most part has never built vehicles before. Quite an accomplishment by any definition.

AutoPacific president George Peterson notes "Korean makers remain a factor in the satisfaction stakes this year, with Hyundai's Santa Fe Midsize Sport Utility winning its class for the third year running. We all know Korean quality is improving at a rapid rate. What is both surprising and notable is Korean ability not just to build quality in from the outset, but to keep the quality initiative going over an extended build run. This reinforces what we've suspected for awhile now. Korean success is not just a flash-in-the-pan, but is likely to continue into the future."

TOP PERFORMERS ARE:

BRAND: Lincoln

PASSENGER CARS:
Premium Luxury Car Lexus LS 430 (5-peat winner)
Entry Luxury Car Nissan Maxima
American Luxury Car Cadillac DeVille (3-peat winner)
Premium Midsize Car Pontiac Grand Prix
Standard Midsize Car Mazda6 (repeat winner)
Compact Car Volkswagen Jetta
Sports Car Mercedes-Benz SL
Sporty Car Acura RSX

LIGHT TRUCKS:
Large Light-Duty Pickup Cadillac Escalade EXT
Large Heavy-Duty Pickup Dodge Ram HD
Compact Pickup Chevrolet Colorado
Luxury Sport Utility Lincoln Navigator
Large Sport Utility Nissan Armada
Premium Midsize Sport Utility Mitsubishi Endeavor
Standard Midsize Sport Utility Hyundai Santa Fe
Compact Sport Utility Chrysler PT Cruiser
Minivan Honda Odyssey (repeat winner)

All winning manufacturers receive AutoPacific's coveted VSA "speedform" award, featuring a blue stylized vehicle mounted on a clear and black plexiglass base. The speedform, with its decidedly automotive shape and appearance, underscores AutoPacific's role as an auto industry specialist.

In addition to identifying segment winners, VSA also establishes numerical satisfaction ratings for virtually every passenger car and light truck in the North American market. This results from calculating owner satisfaction across 44 specific areas related to a vehicle's operation, comfort, safety and the overall purchase/lease experience. 2004 ratings reflect input from more than 32,000 buyers and lessees of new vehicles acquired September-December 2003.

AutoPacific releases VSS results yearly as a consumer and industry service. AutoPacific also offers a Satisfaction Benchmark Study (SBS) that analyzes, on a feature-by-feature basis, cars and trucks in the North American market. This study allows manufacturers and key suppliers to assess and compare their vehicles on a feature level with the best in the business. "We feel SBS is the best and most economical way for manufacturers and suppliers to rate their own performance, and find out who is setting the standard for satisfaction. It then takes the analysis to the discrete level, from cupholders to the dealership experience," says Peterson.

AutoPacific is a future-oriented automotive marketing and product consulting firm. Every year it 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.
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