ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Cadillac joined Lexus as the brand with the most-pleased customers, as Detroit brands held three of the top five posts in an annual University of Michigan study of customer satisfaction.
Cadillac rose from No. 2 last year to match Lexus with a score of 89 points out of a possible 100 in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The industry average was 84, or 2.4 percent above last year's and an all-time high for the index, which was begun in 1994.
Customer satisfaction for all Detroit brands grew from just over 81 last year to just below Asian automakers' score of 84. European companies topped the ranking with 86.
This year's near-parity with Asian companies marks the closest the Detroit 3 have come to those rivals since outscoring them in 2000.
Claes Fornell, director of the university's national quality research center, said part of the Detroit 3's increased satisfaction stems, oddly, from declining sales. As less-satisfied customers don't return to automakers, the remaining customer base is smaller but more satisfied, Fornell said.
Lincoln Mercury cracked the top five by scoring an 88, tying for third with Buick and Honda. Lincoln Mercury saw a 6 percent gain from last year, displacing Toyota among the top five. Toyota kept its score at 86, just three points from the top, while falling into a tie for seventh with Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen.