"Often times, the most satisfying vehicle is the one with the most personality, not the one that is screwed together the best," noted George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, in an overview of the 2007 VSA.
Satisfaction can be improved, in fact, by the way a brand handle the repair of a defect. And that can provide a significant advantage in a study like this when a carmaker is introducing all-new vehicles. As the Power IQS underscored, all-new models tend to have more early quality problems than products that have been on the market for several years. But the VSA reveals that twelve of the most satisfying top 28 vehicles - which won or tied in 25 separate categories - are all new for 2007.
Of those, 13 top cars wear Big Three badges, with seven Asian and three European car segment winners. In the 15 truck categories, seven are Detroit nameplates, with eight Japanese and Korean makes. Notably, DaimlerChrysler took no best-in-category award, while GM and Ford tied with six class leaders each. Ford took four, Hyundai and Nissan three apiece, and Honda grabbed two.
Emphasizing the fact that the VSA rewards brands that aren't always the best in pure quality metrics, Land Rover landed in 15th place, just above industry average. The British marque has traditionally been at the bottom of Power's IQS, this year suffering about 50 percent more reported problems than the industry average. HUMMER, which took seventh in the VSA, and Volkswagen, which AutoPacific ranked 11th, also fared far more poorly in Power's Things-Gone-Wrong count.
As one might expect, luxury car owners tended to be most satisfied with their vehicles, the average vehicle in the Premium Luxury Car segment scoring 678 points. (The BMW 7-Series and Lexus LS tied for first.) But Large Sport Utility competitors scored nearly as high, an average 675 points. (The winner the GMC Yukon XL.)
At the bottom of the rung were Compact SUVs, at 593 points and Economy Cars, at 566.
The 2007 VSA comprises the results of 24,000 U.S. new vehicle owners, who were asked about their experience after roughly 60 to 90 days of ownership.