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TUSTIN, Calif. — AutoPacific spotlighted the vehicles that best satisfy their owners, rolling out its 2010 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards on Thursday.

Receiving the top overall score was the Suzuki Kizashi, while the Lincoln MKT earned the top score in the truck or SUV category. 

Cadillac earned a score of 713 to win the award for highest satisfaction among premium brands, and Buick, which scored 693, took honors in the popular brand category.

"This recognition is important to us because it is based on our owners' satisfaction with their vehicles, and this award is proof that our efforts to continuously improve our vehicles are paying off," stated Roger McCormack, director of marketing for Buick.

Don Butler, vice president for Cadillac marketing, chimed in: "This award has special meaning for Cadillac because it's based on customer impressions. Cadillac's third-straight ranking at the top shows that we are consistently meeting and exceeding the expectations of the people who know our products best."

Ford led the way among automakers, as it took five individual segment awards. Winning three awards each were General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Toyota.

"While the auto industry is showing signs of improvement, more than ever before, manufacturers need to be able to differentiate themselves. Proof of satisfied customers is as good as gold," stated George Peterson, president of AutoPacific.

"We've found that more than 25 percent of new car buyers are positively influenced by owner-based awards like the VSA when deciding on a new car or truck," he continued.

More than 42,000 vehicle owners were surveyed as part of this study. The scores are determined by how vehicles are measured in 48 different categories. Awards are given out across 27 vehicle segments, in addition to the two overall brand honors.

The top overall vehicle, the Kizashi, was 99 points higher than the industry average, officials noted, while the MKT was 94 points ahead of the average.

"This is an amazing win for Suzuki," Peterson commented. "The Kizashi is Suzuki's most important vehicle, and this performance in our research is exceptional."

He added: "As we cautiously emerge from this economic crisis, new vehicle buyers are being especially careful, and the data we've analyzed for the Vehicle Satisfaction Award will help this year's customers make wise purchase decisions."

An executive with Chrysler, which was represented in two categories — the Dodge Ram HD for Heavy Duty Pickups, and the Dodge Nitro in the Midsize Sport Utility — shared his reaction to winning the awards.

"The all-new Ram Heavy Duty pickups have earned the industry's top awards, driven in large parts by the quality and refinements brought forward from the Ram 1500," stated Doug Betts, senior vice president of quality for Chrysler Group. "It's clear that Ram Trucks have become the new benchmarks for the segment.

"We're also proud of Nitro and the Dodge Brand," added Betts. "With customer-oriented packages focused on performance, features and style, Dodge Nitro is a stand-out value in the midsize SUV segment."

Meanwhile, Porsche was honored in the Sports Car category (911), and its North American leadership had this to say: "For Porsche this is a very important award because it independently demonstrates just how satisfied our owners are about the new-generation 911, which was launched about a year and a half ago," stated Detlev von Platen, president and chief executive officer, Porsche Cars North America.

"By not concentrating on one area of the 911's attributes, it shows there is a very comprehensive satisfaction for the overall ownership experience with this model," von Platen continued.

The complete list of model-year 2010 winners is as follows:

Highest Satisfaction Premium Brand: Cadillac

Highest Satisfaction Popular Brand: Buick

Passenger Cars

Premium Luxury Car: Lexus LS

Aspirational Luxury Car: Hyundai Genesis

Luxury Midsize Car: Nissan Maxima

Large Car: Ford Taurus

Premium Midsize Car: Honda Accord

Midsize Car: Suzuki Kizashi

Premium Compact Car: Volkswagen GTI

Compact Car: Nissan Cube

Economy Car: Honda Fit

Sports Car: Porsche 911

Sporty Car: Chevrolet Camaro

Hybrid Car: Mercury Milan Hybrid

Light Trucks

Heavy Duty Pickup: Dodge Ram HD

Large Light Duty Pickup: Ford F-150

Compact Pickup: Honda Ridgeline

Luxury Sport Utility: Cadillac Escalade

Large Sport Utility: Ford Expedition

Premium Midsize Sport Utility: Nissan Pathfinder/Toyota 4Runner

Midsize Sport Utility: Dodge Nitro

Premium Luxury Crossover: Lincoln MKT

Luxury Crossover SUV: Lexus RX

Large Crossover SUV: GMC Acadia

Premium Midsize Crossover SUV: Ford Edge

Midsize Crossover SUV: Ford Escape

Compact Crossover SUV: Hyundai Tucson

Minivan: Honda Odyssey

Hybrid Truck: Lexus RX400h Hybrid