One of the biggest disconnects in the industry is how Toyota dealers can sell such great products yet have such lousy CSI scores.
It must be a brand thing because ever since Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. launched Lexus in the United States, that luxury brand has ranked at or near the top of the annual
J.D. Power and Associates Customer Service Index. But the Toyota brand, which ranks at or near the top of product quality surveys, traditionally finishes much lower in CSI.
Until three years ago, vehicle quality was factored into the CSI score. That helped Toyota, but its CSI scores were still well below those of Lexus.
Then Power eliminated vehicle quality from the study, and rightfully so.
Dealers had complained that quality was out of their control and shouldn't be included in CSI, which measures how dealerships treat
customers and is used by some factories as an important metric in granting new franchises to existing dealers.
Toyota has languished below the CSI industry average ever since.
In the 2004 study, Toyota ranked 28th out of 39 brands. Lexus finished No. 5.
To be sure, other automakers have luxury brands that outscore their mass-market brands. Lincoln finished higher than Ford. Acura ranked higher than Honda. Audi soared above the troubled Volkswagen.
But nowhere has the disparity been as pronounced for as long as it has been between Lexus and Toyota.