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Chevy Volt tops Consumer Reports satisfaction survey

Chevy Volt tops Consumer Reports satisfaction survey
David Phillips
Automotive News | December 1, 2011 – 6:00 am EST

DETROIT — The Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid has topped Consumer Reports’ latest owner-satisfaction survey after its first year on the market.

The magazine said 93 percent of respondents who own a Volt said they would definitely purchase one again, making it the highest-rated car in the annual poll. Two second-place finishers, the V8-powered Dodge Challenger and the Porsche 911, drew the most-favorable grade from 91 percent of buyers.

Consumer Reports said the Volt — the subject of a stepped-up safety investigation this week by U.S. regulators — had been in U.S. showrooms for only a few months when the survey was conducted.

“It remains to be seen if the score will hold up as the car rolls out to a wider audience and owners spend more time with their vehicles,” the magazine said. “Still, early adopters of a new technology tend to be among the most enthusiastic buyers.”

The owner-satisfaction survey was conducted before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began looking into the safety of plug-in hybrid vehicles. The probe was prompted after a Volt caught fire in storage three weeks after being crash-tested last spring.

Following additional tests, NHTSA launched a wider investigation of the Volt this week. The agency is studying, among other things, how best to properly handle and store the car’s lithium ion batteries after a crash.

Convertibles, sports cars and hybrids have traditionally dominated the magazine’s owner-satisfaction study.

“These models reflect a larger trend we’ve seen in recent years: Sporty cars and fuel efficient cars with alternative drivetrains tend to generate more enthusiasm and loyalty than most other types of vehicles,” Rik Paul, Consumer Reports’ automotive editor, said in a statement.

Consumer Reports said 12 of the 27 models that topped its owner–satisfaction ratings — meaning at least 80 percent of respondents said they’d definitely buy the vehicle again — were sporty cars or convertibles; nine were hybrids or diesels.

Consumer Reports’ owner-satisfaction survey includes responses from more than 314,000 subscribers on 2009-12 model year vehicles. It is based on the results from the magazine’s annual auto survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

Scores are based on the percentage of respondents who answered “definitely yes” to the following question: “Considering all factors — price, reliability, comfort, enjoyment, etc., — would you get this car if you had it to do all over again?”

Small cars, lower-priced small and midsized SUVs, minivans, and compact pickup trucks tended to score much lower as a group, the magazine said.

Three models received Consumer Reports’ lowest rating, meaning fewer than half of the respondents said they would definitely buy the car again.

The models are the Chevrolet Aveo, with just 37 percent of owners indicating they would buy it again, the all-wheel-drive Toyota Matrix (43 percent), and Chevrolet Colorado pickup (47 percent).

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