JD Power survey 2012 - The results
The SUV market has rocketed in the past few years. That makes the Kia Sportage’s first JD Power outing even more impressive. It has leapfrogged not only its direct competition, but every car in the running to take the overall number-one spot for satisfaction.
What’s so special about this compact SUV? The seven-year, unlimited-mileage warranty almost certainly had something to do with the Sportage’s popularity, but Kia had more up its sleeve when it was developing this car.
The Sportage was the only car in the survey to score five stars across all categories, from mechanical reliability to ownership costs and the dealer experience. Owners loved its stylish bodywork, too.
Value for money also played a big part in the Sportage’s attraction, and the car certainly has a long equipment list. The gadget roll call is one you’d expect to see on a more expensive car.
On every version, you get cruise control, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearstick, rain-sensing wipers, electric heated door mirrors, USB and auxiliary-input sockets, and even an iPod cable. Bluetooth is also standard, while parking sensors come with all trim levels bar the most basic.
If that doesn’t fully explain the Sportage’s appeal, perhaps it’s best left to the people who drive it every day. So, over to some of What Car?’s readers for their thoughts on what makes the Sportage a winning car.
‘It’s better looking than other SUVs and less expensive than most’; ‘Good looking, good to drive, cheap to run, space for four adults and room for the dog’; ‘I’d never have thought about a Kia, but this is one of the best-looking cars ever’; ‘Am I going to trade in mine? I think not; friends, family, passers-by – they all love it’.
That sums it up pretty well.
Best manufacturer Jaguar
To be a brand leader, you need more than quality products. Every year, JD Power proves that you also need to treat your customers with extreme care.
There’s no better example than Jaguar, whose customers this year rated its dealer network more highly than any other. They liked Jaguar’s clean, comfortable waiting areas, helpful staff and streamlined servicing. XF drivers were particularly glowing in their praise. Helpful service advisors delivering top-notch workmanship were especially prized.
However, Jaguar may want to look at ways to bring its costs down. Dealers have put their labour rates up significantly – and this hasn’t gone unnoticed by customers. The fairly high cost of service and repair helped put the brand in the bottom half of the table, and owners weren’t satisfied that the charges were wholly fair.
Still, Jaguar’s hard work in knocking Lexus off the top spot is even more impressive considering one of Jaguar’s featured cars, the X-type, isn’t even made any more.
With an estate XF and the Porsche 911-rivalling C-X16 set to hit showrooms later this year, plus more metal in the pipeline, the future for Jaguar looks bright – all the more reason for the company to keep up its customer service.
…and the ones to avoid
Worst car in the survey Vauxhall Vectra
As a manufacturer, Vauxhall climbed off the bottom of the pile this year, but the company won’t be celebrating any time soon because its Vectra took the wooden spoon in the individual category.
In Vauxhall’s defence, the Vectra is no longer on sale. The car suffered problems in almost every area. Owners complained about its looks, driving dynamics and air-conditioning (the biggest single cause of complaints). Vauxhall’s customer service didn’t sweeten the pill, either; many owners were disgruntled about the costs to run and fix the Vectra.
Its Insignia replacement didn’t cover itself in glory, scoring well below average in 95th place, but at least it ranked 23 places higher than the Vectra.
Nonetheless, this year’s survey result marks a very poor performance against newer, more reliable rivals.
Worst manufacturer Chevrolet
The difference between the scores of the top two manufacturers in this year’s survey is sizeable at 2.7% – but the gap at the bottom is even bigger.
Chevrolet’s score of 71.3% is a shocking 3.4% behind the next lowest score, recorded by GM stablemate Vauxhall. However, while Vauxhall had the worst overall model in the Vectra, other models such as the Meriva managed to drag the company’s score off the bottom.
Chevrolet wasn’t so lucky. The 2012 survey included only one Chevrolet, the Matiz, because recently released models such as the Spark and Cruze were still too new to appear. Although Chevrolet owners complained more than any others about heating and misty windows, the company’s position reflects a poor performance.
Dealer service was one of the manufacturer’s less criticised areas, so Chevrolet will be hoping that the appearance of the new cars in future surveys will help boost its score. It has a long hill to climb.