Buick, Chrysler, Kia improve most in Total Car Score 2012 composite rating
DETROIT -- Buick, Chrysler and Kia improved the most this year while Infiniti took the top spot from Lexus on Total Car Score's list of Best Scoring Car Brands of 2012.
The list is a composite of ratings from nine automotive review and ratings sites, including MSN Autos, U.S. News & World Report and Consumer Guide.
The 32 brands on the list all have at least four widely available nameplates for sale in the United States.
Total Car Score also tabulated 2011 brand ratings for comparisons.
The company launched in February to give car shoppers and enthusiasts a straightforward research tool for finding the best models, a spokeswoman said.
On the 2012 list, the top 12 brands are separated by only three points, with leader Infiniti at 82.09 points, 3.02 points higher than 12th-place Hyundai.
Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz at 81.82 and Audi at 80.93 were the highest performing luxury brands, while Buick at 81.3, Volkswagen at 80.4 and Chrysler at 79.78 led the volume brands.
Lots of competition
Karl Brauer,CEO of Total Car Score, said the tight rankings signal competitiveness among automakers.
He said the industry is doing a better job of making compelling vehicles that can attract consumers.
"I think the industry has done a much better job making their cars more emotional, engaging and fun. You look at cars like the Hyundai Sonata or the Ford Flex or the [Kia] Optima. They are fun, cool cars," Brauer said.
Overall, Buick finished third on the 2012 list, behind Infiniti and Mercedes, after a 3.19-point improvement over 2011. The GM brand ranked ninth in 2011.
Chrysler had a 3.71-point bounce from 18th place in 2011 to No. 8 in 2012.
Kia, at 79.31, had the biggest jump, rising 3.76 points from 20th in 2011 to No. 10 in 2012.
Lexus, at 80.51, fell from the top spot in 2011 to fifth in 2012.
Brauer highlighted the jumps by Buick and Chrysler, noting that the brands wouldn't have been expected to rate so highly just a few years ago.
He said Buick began its revival when its Enclave crossover went on sale in 2007, and Chrysler took a step forward when it redesigned the Sebring and renamed it the 200 in 2010.
Meanwhile, Kia is matching its marketing push with "fully competent" cars, Brauer said. The brand's U.S. car sales are up 40 percent through May from a year ago, rising from 118,002 in 2011 to 165,268.
"There are a lot of fabulous cars out there," Brauer said. "They've all turned up their games."
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