DETROIT -- U S automakers are producing more hits with cars, but are facing steeper competition in trucks, an area they once dominated, according to a vehicle quality study released last week.
The domestic Big Three had the top-scoring vehicles in five out of 10 car categories in the annual vehicle quality study by Strategic Vision Inc., a San Diego-based market research firm and consultant to automakers. A notable winner was
In trucks, Japanese companies took six out of 10 categories. The winners included the
Detroit is ``playing catch-up, but the competition is moving ahead at the same time," said Daniel Gorrell, vice president of Strategic Vision. ``The imports are really developing a strong foothold in the truck market."
The study, which factors in emotional reactions to vehicles, as well as defects and design issues, found BMW to be the top brand, followed closely by Lexus.
BMW's ranking contrasted sharply to a better-known quality report by J.D. Power and Associates. That study, released earlier this month, found a high number of complaints about BMW for design, particularly its iDrive system, which operates many different controls through a single knob.
Gorrell called iDrive ``a mistake." But, he added, ``that's not the total experience people have with BMW."
When it came to the Fusion, a key vehicle in Ford Motor Co.'s comeback strategy, a variety of attributes -- particularly styling, roominess, quiet, and dealership experience -- prompted owners to give it high marks.
For the Japanese manufacturers, the reliability they are known for was only one element in their success, Gorrell said.
For example, the
The study, which is paid for by most of the automakers, has been conducted since 1995. For the 2006 study, Strategic Vision surveyed more than 29,000 people on vehicles purchased in October and November.
Categories and winners in Strategic Vision Inc.'s survey of the quality of 2006 vehicles. For the study, Strategic Vision surveyed more than 29,000 people on vehicles purchased in October and November. It measures customers' emotional responses to vehicles as well as their driving experience and any problems they have had.
Best brand: BMW
Small multi function: Chevrolet HHR
Large car: Dodge Charger
Small specialty (under $25,000): Mini Cooper
Small specialty (over $25,000): Chevrolet Corvette
Near-luxury car: Lexus IS 250/350
Luxury car: BMW 7-Series
Convertible (under $30,000): Mini Cooper Convertible
Convertible (over $30,000): Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
Minivan: Honda Odyssey
Small SUV: Saturn Vue
Medium crossover: Dodge Magnum
Near-luxury SUV: Lexus RX 350/400h
Luxury SUV: Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Compact pickup: Toyota Tacoma
Full-size pickup: Honda Ridgeline
Heavy-duty pickup: Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500
SOURCE: Strategic Vision Inc.