There is more good news for Volkswagen of America Inc.
New-vehicle owners gave VWoA the highest marks in a survey taken late last year.
Moreover, the Passat, already the top-ranked family car by Consumer Reports, was ranked No. 1 among mid-sized cars in the survey by Strategic Vision, a San Diego-based research company.
Strategic Vision asked buyers how they felt about buying, owning and driving their 1999 vehicles. All respondents bought vehicles in October and November 1998. The 33,000 responses were tabulated on a scale of 1 to 1,000.
The survey, called the Total Quality Index, differs from other rankings, such as J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Quality Survey of vehicle problems, said Dan Gorrell, Strategic Vision's vice president. Strategic Vision asks owners about the emotional side of their purchase and the dealership experience.
With new-vehicle manufacturing quality high across the board, automakers want to know about their vehicles' emotional appeal, he said.
Here are some other highlights of the survey:
The Cadillac Escalade finished near the bottom of the luxury sport-utility segment, with 845 points. The segment winner, the Lexus LX 470, garnered 918 points.
LX 470 owners liked the vehicle's craftsmanship and comfort and felt in control behind the wheel.
Ford Motor Co.'s cars consistently ranked low in their segments. For example, the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable ranked at the bottom of 14 cars in the mid-sized segment. A bright spot for Ford was the Mustang, which ranked second in the small specialty car segment behind the VW Beetle.
The Chrysler LHS topped the large-car segment. The Chrysler Concorde ranked second and the Mercury Grand Marquis ranked third.
The Volvo S80, listed in the luxury car segment, garnered the highest score of any vehicle in the survey, with 922 points.
The lowest-rated vehicle was the Suzuki Esteem, which notched 738 points in the small-car segment.