Personal Finance

Volkswagen gaining ground on Toyota in customer satisfaction survey

Volkswagen AG group brands led industrywide gains in a J.D. Power & Associates study of owner satisfaction with recently purchased models as U.S. auto sales are poised to recover to the highest level in six years.

Volkswagen, seeking to pass Toyota Motor Corp. as the world’s biggest carmaker, led this year’s U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout study, known as Apeal, with five models topping their respective segments, research firm J.D. Power said in a statement.

General Motors Co. followed with four vehicle segment leaders, J.D. Power said. The results of the survey, which gauges customer satisfaction 90 days after purchases, show buyers remain picky even as Americans purchase new cars and trucks at the fastest rate since 2007 as they replace the oldest vehicles ever on U.S. roads.

Vehicles with the highest Apeal scores typically sell for a premium over segment competitors and also have higher buyer loyalty, J.D. Power said. The firm collected responses from 83,000 car buyers between February and May for this year’s study on 77 features, including styling and ease of connecting a mobile phone.

Volkswagen brand Porsche AG led the study, as it did in 2012, with 884 points out of a maximum 1,000, down from 887 last year. Volkswagen’s Audi AG followed with 857 points, up from 848. Chrysler Group LLC’s Ram truck brand was the study’s highest non-premium line, with 817 points, up from 792 last year.

Toyota’s luxury Lexus line rose to fifth in this year’s study, with 847 points, a 14-point gain, from seventh last year. Namesake Toyota brand slipped to 776 points, down from 780 in 2012, according to J.D. Power.

The industry average improved to 795 points this year from 788 in 2012, J.D. Power said.