DETROIT (AP) _ When it comes to car quality, think South Korean.
Hyundai Motor Co. leads in five categories in the annual vehicle
quality study released Monday by Strategic Vision Inc., a San
Diego-based market research company and consultant to automakers.
Hyundai's rise in the rankings is only the latest sign of the
improved overall quality and declining number of defects in today's
cars and trucks, said David Cole, chairman of the Center for
Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.
``They're coming together to a point where the differences are
almost meaningless,'' Cole said.
He said that means buyers will pay increasing attention to dealer
service, new technology, fashion features, price and fuel economy.
Once known best as the maker of cheap, entry-level cars with
nagging manufacturing flaws, the South Korean automaker outperformed
its Japanese, European and U.S. rivals in this year's survey, based
on interviews with 27,780 people who bought 2007 models in
Last year, Hyundai had no winners. And highly regarded Toyota
Motor Corp., despite improving its overall quality, went from four
leaders last year to one in 2007.
``Even though Hyundai is often overlooked by the U.S. customer,
Hyundai's success in 2007 is not surprising given its current
products and ... leadership that is looking to the near and distant
future with new designs from styling to powertrain,'' said Darrel
Edwards, Strategic Vision's chief executive.
Hyundai's Azera led among large cars, and its Santa Fe led among
small sport utility vehicles. Its Entourage was tied for best
minivan with the Quest by Nissan Motor Co. and the Sedona by Hyundai
affiliate Kia Motors Corp.
The Kia Sorento led among medium SUVs, Strategic Vision said.
BMW AG led in three individual categories plus best overall
brand, and Nissan, Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG led in
Strategic Visions asks buyers to rate all aspects of their new
vehicles, from the purchase itself to the ownership and driving
What's new this year is not who's first or second, but rather how
satisfied buyers are in general, said company president Alexander
``Everybody's doing a terrific job _ that's the news,'' he said.
Based on a 1,000-point scale, the average new vehicle was rated
864, up from 861 in 2006 and 831 in 1998. As a result, he said,
``cues of quality'' rather than the number of defects ``have a
greater impact on the purchase decision.''
Overall, Volkswagen AG had the highest corporate average,
followed by Honda Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Toyota and
Hyundai. Among brand names, BMW was followed by Infiniti, Mercedes
Benz, Mini and Jaguar.
On the Net:
Strategic Vision Inc.: http://www.strategicvision.com