May 5, 2003

AutoPacific releases 2003 Vehicle Satisfaction scores

Tustin, California – Results of a study released last week by automotive consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc. reveal high owner satisfaction with new 2003 model year cars and light trucks. Cadillac is the highest-rated brand for 2003. Being at the top is familiar territory for Cadillac, as it shared top honors with Lexus in 2002 and won outright in 2001.

The individual vehicle registering highest overall satisfaction for a fourth consecutive year is Lexus’ LS sedan, represented for 2003 by the LS 430 model. The highest-rated truck is Cadillac’s new Avalanche-based Escalade EXT, which brings high-level luxury to the basic GM midgate concept.

“By corporation, Ford and Honda earn most awards with five segment winners each,” notes AutoPacific founder and president George Peterson. “Toyota follows with four segment winners and General Motors three, although Cadillac’s brand victory raises GM’s award count to four.”

The Hyundai-Kia group continues its recent success with two segment victories, while Volkswagen receives one.

A special-achievement award is also given to Nissan for its new Murano. In spite of Murano having been on the market for a limited period of time and resultant smaller survey sample size, it still generates an astounding 755 points on AutoPacific’s 1000-point scale. This score makes Murano third most-satisfying vehicle in the North American market. “It’s great to add an extra award this year recognizing Nissan,” says Peterson, “as they are not only exploring new design concepts but appear to have developed some exceptional vehicles in the process. Among several great new Nissans, Murano in particular is a real home-run.”

Top performers by segment are:

  • BRAND: Cadillac


  • Premium Luxury Car Lexus LS 430
    (4-peat winner)

  • Contemporary Luxury Car Acura TL
  • American Luxury Car Cadillac DeVille (repeat winner)
  • Premium Mid-Size Car Honda Accord (sedan and coupe)
  • Standard Mid-Size Car Mazda6
  • Compact Car Hyundai Elantra; Volkswagen New Beetle (tied; repeat winner)
  • Sports Car Lexus SC430 (repeat winner)
  • Sporty Car Acura RSX


  • Large Light-Duty Pickup Toyota Tundra
  • Large Heavy-Duty Pickup Ford F-Series Super Duty
  • Large 4-Door Pickup/SUT Cadillac Escalade EXT
  • Compact Pickup Toyota Tacoma
  • Compact 4-Door Pickup/SUT Ford Explorer Sport Trac
  • Luxury Sport Utility Lincoln Navigator
  • Large Sport Utility Ford Excursion (repeat winner)
  • Premium Mid-Size Sport Utility GMC Envoy
  • Standard Mid-Size Sport Utility Kia Sorento
  • Compact Sport Utility Honda CR-V (repeat winner)
  • Minivan Honda Odyssey


In addition to identifying segment winners, VSS also establishes numerical ratings for virtually every passenger car and light truck in the North American market. VSS also calculates satisfaction in 41 specific areas related to each vehicle’s operation, comfort, safety and purchase/lease experience. Ratings reflect input from over 36,000 buyers and lessees of new vehicles acquired September-December 2002.

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