Customer satisfaction with vehicles is up, based on the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index, which nevertheless detected mixed signals about electric models.

The annual survey, which gathers sentiment of U.S. consumers on products and services by domestic and foreign companies with substantial share in U.S. markets, found satisfaction with autos rose 3% to 79 points on the 100-point index.

The improvement was enough for index executives to declare the pandemic’s effects on consumer sentiment a thing of the past.

“Satisfaction with the auto industry as a whole has fully rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, and consumer demand is strong despite rising interest rates,” said ACSI Director of Research Emeritus Forrest Morgeson in a press release on the survey findings.

Morgeson, associate professor of marketing at Michigan State University, where ACSI started in 1994, said almost all aspects of the driving experience have improved, including driving performance, gas mileage and warranties. Even with inflated vehicle prices, he said, value perceptions are up.

“These factors bode well for automakers — and their sales figures — in the second half of 2023,” Morgeson said.

Toyota led both mass-market brands and the overall industry in the survey, up 5% to a score of 84 on strong gas mileage, dependability and quality for the price. More respondents considered buying a Toyota than any other brand – 35%. Its luxury division, Lexus, remained at the top of that segment but was joined in that spot by Tesla.

Survey respondents said they’re more satisfied with electric and hybrids models than are owners and lessees of gas-powered vehicles. But they ranked at the bottom for dependability and reliability. Meanwhile, hybrid owners are happier with more aspects of the driver experience than EV owners, including quality, value, and dependability. Hybrid drivers were satisfied with more aspects of their vehicles than were those with EVs.

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