Buyers of Tesla, Porsche and Genesis luxury vehicles are the happiest car owners in the U.S.
So says a new study by Consumer Reports, which ranked automotive brands based on a comprehensive owner satisfaction study.
Acura, the luxury brand offered by Honda, ranked the lowest of 30 brands.
Unlike Consumer Reports' widely-followed Reliability Survey, this study doesn't rank automakers based on quality or dependability.
Instead, it rates auto brands based on how they performed against car buyers' expectations in the 2015 through 2018 model years. It incorporates feedback on the driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio and climate systems.
"Owner satisfaction is really a measurement of whether or not the car fulfilled on its promise," said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports. "Did it disappoint you? Did you get more than you thought? Did you get less than you thought?"
Based on that gauge, Tesla came out on top. The Silicon Valley automaker's luxury electric vehicles have generated a devoted following, despite price tags that can exceed $100,000.
"People are very happy with them," Fisher said. "You're not buying it because it's a great value, but you're still extremely happy with the purchase."
But that ranking could soon take a hit. With Tesla ramping up production of the mass-market Model 3 electric sedan, some car owners may be disappointed when the $35,000 base-price, more sparingly outfitted Model 3 doesn't match up to the ultra-luxurious Model S or Model X.
Fisher said other luxury auto brands have taken a hit to their satisfaction scores by introducing cheaper vehicles. Mercedes-Benz, for example, ranked 22nd after the German luxury brand's CLA, priced in the low-to-mid $30,000 range to appeal to Millennials, disappointed some buyers. Acura also suffered a similar fate, Fisher said.
On the flip side, new luxury brand Genesis, which Korean automaker Hyundai recently spun off, has gotten off to a good start. Genesis ranked third behind Tesla and Porsche.