Westlake Village, California – Kia.com ranks highest among automotive manufacturer web sites for usefulness in new-vehicle shopping, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study (MWES).

The semi-annual study measures the usefulness of U.S. automotive manufacturer web sites during the new-vehicle shopping process. New-vehicle shoppers evaluate web sites in four key areas: appearance, speed, navigation and information/content.

Kia ranks highest with an index score of 872 on a 1,000-point scale — marking a nine-point increase from the last wave of the study, which was released in January 2008. Closely following Kia in the rankings are Ford (871) and Mazda (870), with Ford performing particularly well in the appearance factor. Also performing significantly above the industry average are Honda, Jeep, Lincoln, Porsche, BMW, Cadillac and Subaru.

“Over the years, Kia has successfully satisfied shoppers with its straightforward, intuitive web site by providing pages that load quickly and that are easy to navigate,” said Arianne Walker, director of marketing/media research at J.D. Power and Associates. “By focusing on these key aspects of the web site experience, Kia has continually met the expectations of its customers. In fact, this marks the fourth time in 10 reporting waves that Kia has ranked highest.”

On average, most manufacturer Web sites undergo a major redesign every two to three years. While redesigns can eventually lead to increased satisfaction, small updates to improve critical areas on a manufacturer Web site — such as information and content and ease of navigation — can also positively impact the customer experience in a more cost-effective manner.

In particular, Ford and Porsche have made frequent tweaks and updates to their sites, all leading to a steady increase in satisfaction scores during the past four years, without a major redesign. Specifically, after enhancing navigation following the second wave of MWES in 2007, these manufacturers have also made significant improvements in speed since January 2008.

Manufacturer Web Site Ranking (Based on a 1,000-point scale):

Manufacturer Index score
Kia 872
Ford 871
Mazda 870
Honda 868
Jeep 867
Lincoln 867
Porsche 867
BMW 864
Cadillac 864
Subaru 863
Toyota 858
MINI 857
Acura 855
HUMMER 854
Lexus 854
Saab 853
GMC 852
Nissan 852
Infiniti 851
Mitsubishi 850
Land Rover 849
Suzuki 849
Industry average 849
Mercury 848
Mercedes-Benz 846
Chrysler 845
Chevrolet 843
Jaguar 842
Saturn 842
Volvo 842
Hyundai 838
Buick 836
Dodge 832
Volkswagen 832
Pontiac 816
Audi 807
Scion 802

Connect with Autos.ca