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DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford tops the industry when it comes to customer satisfaction with its lineup's quality, and this has helped the automaker achieve resale value increases above the industry's average rate of improvement, according to the first quarter Global Quality Research System study.

The GQRS study — conducted by RDA Group on behalf of Ford — is done each quarter and surveys customers who have bought vehicles within a specified period about their satisfaction their specific ride's quality. It also asks them about any issues or defects that may be present.  

Specifically, the study noted that 84 percent of owners of 2010 Ford models claim they are satisfied with their vehicle's quality. In the fourth quarter, 80 percent said the same.

Moreover, Ford also had the strongest score of all full-line automakers in terms of fewest defects or "things gone wrong" in the first three months of owning a new vehicle.

In fact, for every 1,000 Ford vehicles, there were 1,107 things gone wrong. This marked an 8-percent year-over-year improvement.

And thanks in part to its quality improvements, the resale values of one- to five-year-old Ford vehicles have jumped 23 percent year-over-year. The average increase for the overall industry was 19 percent.

"To become the number one automaker in terms of customer satisfaction with vehicle quality is amazing accomplishment and testament to the whole company's commitment to quality," stated Bennie Fowler, Ford group vice president of global quality. "All the third parties studies are showing the same thing: Ford now has world-class quality."

In the midst of these quality improvements, warranty repair rates for the automaker in the first three months of ownership have been on a steep downward slope. In fact, during the last three years, in every global business region, Ford has shown more than a 40-percent drop, on average, in warranty repair rates, according to officials.

"Ford has proven its commitment to quality by demonstrating steady improvements through consistency and discipline," said Donald Pietrowski, president, RDA Group. "Those improvements are clearly reflected in rising customer satisfaction with its products."

In this year's GQRS study, there were eight vehicle categories where Ford was either No. 1 in customer satisfaction, had the lowest amount of things gone wrong or both.

Among the highlights were the Fusion Hybrid, which received a 93 percent satisfaction score, and the Taurus, which scored 92 percent.

Specifically, the following were leaders for the automaker:

—Ford Taurus: Satisfaction leader D/E car.

—Ford Fusion Hybrid: Satisfaction leader C/D car

—Ford Milan Hybrid: TGW leader C/D car

—Ford Focus: Satisfaction leader C car

—Mercury Mountaineer: TGW leader Medium Traditional Utility

—Ford Expedition: TGW and Satisfaction leader Large Utility

—Lincoln Navigator: TGW and Satisfaction Leader Large Premium Utility

 —Ford Ranger: TGW and Satisfaction Leader Compact Pickup

 "While we are proud of the progress we've made, we know how important it is to keep the momentum going," Fowler added.

"We can never be satisfied," he concluded.