J.D. Power and Service Quality

No matter how well a car is designed and engineered, there is still a space between the build at the assembly plant and where the rubber actually meets the road, which is the dealership experience.

No matter how well a car is designed and engineered, there is still a space between the build at the assembly plant and where the rubber actually meets the road, which is the dealership experience.

Let’s face it: If you get a great car and then when you take it in for your regular service and have a crap experience, chances are it will not only reflect badly on the outfit not providing the service experience that you expect, but the greatness of said vehicle will begin to fade, as well.

Not surprisingly, J.D. Power and Associates looks at the quality of vehicle service behavior, and has just released the 2011 U.S. Customer Service Index. The rating is based on five metrics, which are, in order of importance:

· Service quality

· Service initiation

· Service advisor

· Service facility

· Vehicle pick-up

One would think that with the multitudinous recalls that has been associated with the products during the past year and change that Lexus would score somewhere well south of average. After all, an espresso bar in the customer lounge will only get you so far.

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Yet among luxury brands, for the second year in a row, Lexus comes out on top in the CSI, with a score of 846. Jaguar comes in second with 837, then there are Cadillac (830) and Acura (828).

In the mass-market segment, MINI is in first place with a score of 805. GM ought to be feeling really good, because its brands take the next three spots: GMC (803), Buick (799), and Chevrolet (792).

What ought to scare the you-know-what out of everyone are the next two on the list. Historically, one of the weak points of both of these brands have been the dealerships, predicated on a number of factors, ranging from the not-so-stellar quality of the cars as then-built and the fact that these cars were being generally hustled on nothing more than price point.

Yet here they are: Kia (784) and Hyundai (783*). Product and now service? Be afraid, other car makers, very afraid.

*Hyundai actually tied with smart. And as we’ve previously indicated, Roger Penske is giving up smart, which will be going back to Mercedes.