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2023 J.D. Power Customer Service Index Study: Lexus Excels, EVs Struggle

Service Entrance jpg Tesla service | Manufacturer image

A vehicle’s price, specs, tech features and safety scores are usually the top considerations for a car purchase, but J.D. Power’s U.S. Customer Service Index Study reminds shoppers that the ownership experience — specifically when it comes to service — should also play a role. The CSI study measures service satisfaction at both franchised dealerships and aftermarket repair facilities among owners of one- to three-year-old vehicles. The firm analyzes the results to identify common preferences and complaints and ranks brands based on their satisfaction scores.

Related: These Are the Most Dependable 3-Year-Old Cars, Says J.D. Power

For 2023, overall customer satisfaction fell year-over-year for the first time in 28 years with a score of 846 on a 1,000-point scale — a 2-point drop compared to 2022. Along with increased wait times and recalls, lower satisfaction among electric-vehicle owners was a major driver of the dip, says J.D. Power.

Despite the lower overall scores, there were some notable improvements: Lexus came out on top across all brands for the second consecutive year with a higher score year-over-year, while Mitsubishi ranked highest among mass-market brands for the first time. The survey also found that dealerships have increased the use of text messaging (a preferred communication method) to stay in touch with customers. Dealerships now send service update texts 21% of the time compared to making calls 17% of the time.

The Rankings

To determine brand rankings, the 2023 CSI surveyed over 64,000 owners and lessees of 2020-22 model-year vehicles and assigned a score to each brand based on a combination of benchmarks that are weighted based on importance: service quality (32%), service advisor (19%), vehicle pick-up (19%), service facility (15%) and service initiation (15%). Recognizing that service needs may vary by vehicle type, J.D. Power has added segment-specific rankings for the first time with the top brands for cars, SUVs and minivans, and pickup trucks.

Premium Brands

lexus lx 600 ultra luxury 2023 exterior oem 01 jpg 2023 Lexus LX 600 Ultra Luxury | Manufacturer image

Among premium brands, six brands ranked above the category average of 864 points. Alfa Romeo saw the biggest improvement year-over-year, jumping 59 points, while Lexus led with the highest service satisfaction for all premium rankings.

Overall Brand Satisfaction

  • Lexus: 900
  • Porsche: 880
  • Cadillac: 879
  • Infiniti: 878
  • Acura: 869
  • BMW: 868
  • Alfa Romeo: 860
  • Volvo: 851
  • Audi: 848
  • Mercedes-Benz: 847
  • Jaguar: 839
  • Lincoln: 835
  • Land Rover: 824
  • Genesis: 819

Premium Cars

  • Lexus: 902
  • Porsche: 880
  • Infiniti: 878
  • BMW: 877
  • Acura: 871
  • Volvo: 868
  • Cadillac: 865
  • Audi: 855
  • Mercedes-Benz: 855
  • Genesis: 831

Premium SUVs

  • Lexus: 900
  • Cadillac: 880
  • Porsche: 880
  • Infiniti: 878
  • Acura: 868
  • BMW: 862
  • Volvo: 848
  • Audi: 846
  • Mercedes-Benz: 845
  • Lincoln: 835
  • Jaguar: 831
  • Land Rover: 824
  • Genesis: 811

Mass-Market Brands

mitsubishi outlander phev 2023 01 exterior front angle scaled jpg 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV | Cars.com photo by Brian Normile

Compared to their premium counterparts, mass-market brands had a lower average satisfaction rating of 842 points; 10 brands ranked at or higher than average, while eight fell below average. In addition to being ranked the top brand overall, Mitsubishi led in the SUVs and minivans category while Subaru topped the list of mass-market cars.

Overall Brand Satisfaction

  • Mitsubishi: 884
  • Mazda: 870
  • Buick: 867
  • Subaru: 862
  • Mini: 854
  • Chevrolet: 853
  • GMC: 853
  • Nissan: 851
  • Honda: 850
  • Toyota: 842
  • Volkswagen: 836
  • Kia: 835
  • Ford: 832
  • Dodge: 830
  • Ram: 823
  • Jeep: 821
  • Hyundai: 817
  • Chrysler: 803

Mass-Market Cars

  • Subaru: 866
  • Mazda: 863
  • Honda: 855
  • Chevrolet: 854
  • Nissan: 844
  • Ford: 842
  • Dodge: 841
  • Mini: 839
  • Toyota: 838
  • Kia: 835
  • Volkswagen: 831
  • Hyundai: 815

Mass-Market SUVs and Minivans

  • Mitsubishi: 884
  • Mazda: 872
  • Buick: 867
  • GMC: 865
  • Subaru: 861
  • Chevrolet: 854
  • Nissan: 847
  • Honda: 845
  • Toyota: 845
  • Ford: 839
  • Volkswagen: 837
  • Kia: 835
  • Jeep: 823
  • Hyundai: 818

Pickup Trucks

  • Nissan: 886
  • Chevrolet: 851
  • GMC: 843
  • Toyota: 839
  • Ford: 823
  • Ram: 823

EV Service: Unforeseen and Underprepared

toyota bz4x 2023 18 charging cable charging port exterior red suv scaled jpg 2023 Toyota bZ4X | Cars.com photo by Melissa Klauda

While recalls have a negative impact on service satisfaction across all vehicle types, EV owners are hit hardest by this inconvenience. The service satisfaction score among EV owners is 42 points below that of those who own gas-powered vehicles, while the recall rate for EVs is more than double. Regardless of the vehicle’s fuel type, shoppers should research the recall history for the brand and specific model they’re considering.

Aside from the unexpected nature of recalls, EV owners find that service advisor knowledge is lacking for battery-powered cars: In this category, EV owners report a satisfaction score of 8.01 on a 10-point scale compared with 8.59 among gas-powered vehicle owners.

“As training programs for service advisors and technicians evolve, EV service quality and customer experience must address both the vehicle and the unique customer needs,” said Chris Sutton, vice president of automotive retail at J.D. Power, in a statement. “The EV segment has the potential to spur massive convenience improvements in how customers service their vehicles — but we’re not seeing the benefits yet.”

Dealership Vs. Aftermarket Facility

ford service kiosk jpg Ford's digital service kiosk | Manufacturer image

When deciding where to take a vehicle in for service, owners should consider the type of service they need, says J.D. Power. Surveys show that while vehicle owners report higher trust in franchised dealerships compared to aftermarket facilities when it comes to complex repairs (6.14 on a 7-point scale versus 5.75), the pendulum swings in favor of aftermarket shops when the ease of doing business is the top concern (6.18 versus 6.11).

Be Prepared to Wait

Regardless of where you plan to take the vehicle for service, you should expect longer wait times for an appointment, according to the study: Since 2021, the number of days that owners report waiting for a service appointment has increased by 1.3 days for mass-market vehicles and 1.9 days for premium vehicles. In 2023, the average wait times range from 4.8 days for mass-market vehicles to 5.6 days for premium vehicles. The residual effects of the pandemic, including labor and parts shortages, contributed to the increased wait times. Based on this feedback, it’s a good idea to plan ahead for routine maintenance and have a backup plan in the event of emergency repairs.

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Editor’s note: This story was updated March 9, 2023, to correct an error in year-over-year satisfaction improvements. Alfa Romeo saw the greatest improvement among premium brands and overall.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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Former News Editor Jane Ulitskaya joined the Cars.com team in 2021, and her areas of focus included researching and reporting on vehicle pricing, inventory and auto finance trends. Email Jane Ulitskaya

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