Luxury Car Owners Are Most Satisfied

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The more a person spends for a new car, the more satisfied that car owner is likely to be. Among 350,000 car owners surveyed by Consumer Reports magazine for its owner-satisfaction survey, luxury and high-performance car owners were the most satisfied.

The brand that outnumbers all others in owner satisfaction is Audi, from Volkswagen. The A4 model ranks third in the luxury compact segment and the A8, the A7 and two versions of the A6 take four of the top five spots in the luxury segment, including the top three rankings. The A5 luxury compact also nabs the top spot in the luxury compact SUV category.

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Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) places 18 models in the Consumer Reports’ rankings, but no Toyota car takes the top spot in any segment. Of the 12 cars ranked in the hybrid/electric segment, Toyota takes five spots, but its Prius model trails the Model S from Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), the top-ranked car in the entire survey with a score of 99. The Chevy Volt from General Motors Co. (GM) ties with the Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid.

In addition to its Audi models, Volkswagen places five other models in the rankings. Volkswagen's sales in the United States have been weak so far this year. Through October, the company says only that sales are "on par" with 2012 sales, which we interpret to mean flat. Sales were down 18% year over year in October. A senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book sums ups the company's problems this way:

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Volkswagen’s aging product line is holding back sales. The changeover from the current to next-generation Golf is one contributing factor, but the automaker’s sales struggle is seen in drops across every nameplate. Overall sales for the year are off by just 4 percent, but that's in a new-car market that’s up by more than 8 percent, confirming VW's inability to take advantage of growing consumer demand.

The Volkswagen Golf TDI is the top-ranked compact/subcompact in the Consumer Reports survey with a score of 81, but that is clearly not enough to overcome the company's other troubles.

Ford and its Lincoln division placed 14 cars and light trucks on the various lists. The Ford Explorer SUV with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine topped the mid-sized SUV segment with a score of 79%. The Ford Flex large SUV topped that segment as well, with a score of 78%. The company's small SUV, the Ford Escape, finished well behind the category leading Subaru Forester (85) with a score of 53.

Six vehicles from Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (HMC) made scores above 50, led by its venerable Odyssey van, which topped the minivan segment with a score of 79. The Acura RDX was ranked second to the Audi A5 in the luxury compact SUV segment, and the Honda Accord sedan finished third in the mid-size category.

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GM had a total of 17 cars and light trucks on the list, while Chrysler and Jeep had 13 vehicles in the rankings.

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