SAN DIEGO--German manufacturers have always known how to create high-quality vehicles, and this year is no exception. The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class comes in on top this year, beating out runner-up (and last years’ winner) the Porsche Macan, according to the results of Strategic Vision’s 2018 Total Quality Impact™ (TQI) measure.

TQI looks at quality as not only the driver’s rational evaluation of quality, but also looks at how perceived quality has influenced drivers on an emotional level. “TQI shows how people feel about their vehicles in their own words, which reveal valuable recommendations for future products,” says Chris Chaney, Senior Vice President at Strategic Vision. “From how customers are advocating about their products, automotive manufacturers can know where the future of the U.S. market is going.”

With the SL and Macan battling it out for the top spot, other notable high-scoring models include the Tesla Model X, BMW 7-Series, and the Cadillac Escalade. Although they are very different vehicles and are appealing to drivers for various segment-specific reasons, commonalities do pop up. Versatility, robust Power and Pickup, and an overall emotional sense of Ease are seen among these winners.


“Mercedes-Benz is in a Renaissance period for the brand,” explains Strategic Vision President, Alexander Edwards. “With current innovative features and performance styling, Mercedes has clearly focused on answering the challenge of being a brand for our current generation of luxury buyers. Based on the voice of the consumers, Mercedes has unquestionably answered.”

The Mercedes SL-Class is described as making “dreams come true.” It is the quintessential convertible roadster, scoring highly in comfort and performance. Drivers strongly feel that their vehicles come together in premium finishes and power, and that the vehicle is a complete package that matches their desires. This car represents how these drivers have “made it,” in a sense.

In addition to coming in as the highest-scoring Total Quality winner, the SL-Class also made waves in its respective Premium Roadster segment. The SL has always been a top contender in the segment, and this year the SL surpassed the Corvette – which has previously won the segment title from 2015-2017. The SL performed particularly well in the segment for a comfortable and quiet ride. With the SL’s impressive quality both in segment and industry, the SL has truly earned this years’ recognition as the overall Total Quality winner.

As evidenced by our top two quality winners, European brands are making a comeback this year. In 2018, there are five European TQI winners, where only two scored top marks last year. However, this is nothing compared to the Domestic brand empires, who have a large volume of quality models for buyers to choose from. This year, we see 14 winning Domestic brand models. It is interesting to note that Asian brands have not been scoring as highly in the Truck segments as they did in 2017.

The TQI score is comprised of a combination of things gone wrong and right in a vehicle, as well as delivery of emotional aspects of quality, such as elements of Security, Freedom, Esteem, and Harmony. Below is the full list of the 2018 Total Quality Award winners and scores:

Small Car     Honda Civic Si Sedan     674
Small Hatchback Honda Civic Hatchback 623
Small Alternate Powertrain (APT) Car Ford C-MAX Hybrid 548
Mid-Size Car Honda Accord Sedan 687
Mid-Size Hatchback Subaru Outback 598
Mid-Size APT Honda Accord Hybrid 578
Near-Luxury Car Genesis G80 725
Near-Luxury APT Car Lincoln MKZ Hybrid 709
Luxury Car BMW 7-Series 774
Luxury Hatchback Audi A5 Sportback 702
Specialty Coupe Chevrolet Camaro Coupe 756
Premium Coupe Chevrolet Corvette Coupe 748
Standard Convertible Ford Mustang Convertible 766
Premium Convertible/Roadster Mercedes SL-Class 805
Standard Pickup Chevrolet Colorado 574
Full-Size Pickup Ford F-150 665
Heavy Duty Pickup Ram 2500/3500 670
Entry SUV Jeep Renegade 615
Entry CUV Subaru Crosstrek 649
Mid-Size SUV Dodge Durango 703
Mid-Size CUV Chevrolet Traverse 709
Full-Size Utility Chevrolet Tahoe 698
Near-Luxury Utility BMW X3 716
Luxury SUV Cadillac Escalade 762
Luxury CUV Porsche Macan 788
Premium APT Utility Tesla Model X 786
Minivan Kia Sedona 552
Brands Under $26,000 Volkswagen 554
Mass-Market Brand Dodge 612
Luxury Brand BMW 667
Full-Line Corporation Volkswagen Group of America 610

Strategic Vision’s 24th annual Total Quality Impact (TQI) report is based on results from the New Vehicle Experience Study® (NVES) surveying over 44,000 Jul.- Dec. new vehicle buyers after the first 90 days of ownership. It incorporates the impact of problems with the vehicle as well as the drivers’ analytical and emotional evaluations of quality.