2015 Versa

Consumer Reports Slams Nissan

Consumer Reports hasn't been nice to Nissan in recent reviews and now a customer satisfaction survey ranks Nissan third from the bottom despite a similar JD Power survey putting Nissan near the top.

In the past couple of years, Consumer Reports testers have not been kind to most of the Nissan vehicles they've reviewed. They cite the newer designs since 2012 as being below par, by their estimation, though high sales numbers might seem to counter that. Now a new CR consumer survey has Nissan ranked third from the last, just ahead of Mitsubishi and Smart.

The survey included 22 models from Nissan and Infiniti and of those, 14 were ranked last or second-to-last in their category. This is a turnaround from two years ago when Nissan products ranked on the opposite end of the CR survey's scale.

Yet on the flip side of things, a similar J.D. Power and Associates owner satisfaction survey had seven Nissan models within the top three for their categories, outdoing both Honda and Toyota. The difference between the surveys is length of ownership, with the CR surveys being after one, two, or three years and the JD Power survey being after 90 days.

How this affects the survey results is a matter of opinion. CR says that their results come from owners who've lived with the car and "after the honeymoon is over." Yet JD Power says that their survey shows owner satisfaction when the financials are most on their minds, reflecting when the consumer has signed all of the paperwork, paid the down payment, and made at least one vehicle payment plus insurance and other costs. So on the one hand, the survey is after a lengthy time with the car but on the other, it's at the point that the consumer has been most financially impacted by the purchase.

The disparity between Nissan's sales figures and market share, which have grown steadily for two years now, and the negative Consumer Reports effects from the same period is not easy to figure. It cannot be incentives since Nissan has below industry average incentives on its vehicles, according to Edmunds.com, so it's clear consumers aren't drawn to Nissan vehicles by freebies. It must be something else: price, quality, design, marketing.. It may not be identifiable at all.

In any case, this could also be a measure of waning influence at Consumer Reports. Perhaps they're not as influential on purchases as they once were.

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Comments

I'd say that a survey after an extended period of ownership is far more indicative of reality than one that, as CR says, is conducted during the "honeymoon period." For example, reliability or quality issues are way more likely to show up after a year or two or three than in the first three months. As for bad CR reviews correlating to sales...look at how many people buy Dodges. Being a good car as CR defines it doesn't have much to do with the decision-making process of the average American car buyer.
On the other hand, Nissan's rank very high in reliability with CR and most other outlets. So I doubt that's the issue.