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Mercedes, Lexus topped by this luxury brand: Study

Pushing past such rivals as Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac, Ford's struggling luxury brand Lincoln was named the highest-ranked premium brand in AutoPacific's annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards.

The announcement comes as Lincoln prepares to move ahead with a product rollout plan designed to put the nameplate back on the radar screen of luxury buyers who have largely written it off in recent years.

Lincoln products, such as the MKZ sedan, also topped their individual segments in the annual study, which is based on responses by more than 92,000 people who purchased new vehicles.

Mark Elias | Bloomberg | Getty Images

General Motors' GMC truck brand, meanwhile, was named the most satisfying mainstream brand. Detroit automakers took 12 of 23 individual product categories, though imports still led in such key segments as midsize passenger cars, premium luxury models and minivans.

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That list includes the newly redesigned 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which was the highest-ranked of any individual model, according to AutoPacific.

The Vehicle Satisfaction Awards are based on 50 separate criteria, including design, interior comfort, performance and fuel economy.

"Vehicles that score highest in the Vehicle Satisfaction Awards are delivering value and satisfaction across a wide range of attributes," said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific.

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The results of the AutoPacific study often stand in contrast to traditional, quality-based studies, such as the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. Peterson said that with quality on the rise for all brands, it has become less of a brand differentiator. That means other factors, such as design or comfort, can have a more significant impact on long-term satisfaction, as well as on brand loyalty.

The top-ranked vehicles, by segment, were:

Cars

• Premium luxury: Mercedes-Benz S-class

• Executive luxury: Lincoln MKS

• Aspirational luxury: BMW 3-series GT

• Midsize luxury: Lincoln MKZ

• Large: Chevrolet Impala

• Midsize: Kia Optima

• Premium compact: Mercedes-Benz CLA

• Compact: Kia Soul

• Economy: Chevrolet Sonic

• Sports: Chevrolet Corvette

• Sporty: Chevrolet Camaro

• Hybrid/electric vehicle: Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

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Pickup trucks

• Heavy duty: Ford F-Series Super Duty

• Light duty: GMC Sierra

SUVs

• Luxury/large: Infiniti QX80

• Midsize: Jeep Grand Cherokee

Crossover SUVs

• Premium luxury: BMW X5

• Luxury: Cadillac SRX

• Large: GMC Acadia

• Premium midsize: Toyota Highlander

• Midsize: Nissan Rogue

• Compact: Hyundai Tucson

Minivan

• Honda Odyssey

By CNBC Contributor Paul A. Eisenstein. Follow him on Twitter @DetroitBureau or at thedetroitbureau.com.

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