After the chaos that engulfed US carmakers in the wake of the economic crisis, Ford  and General Motors have become a hit with consumers.

Ford's Lincoln-Mercury and GM's Buick brands took the No 1 and No 2 spots, respectively, in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) released this week. Lincoln-Mercury had an 89% customer satisfaction average while Buick was 88%.

This was the first time US automakers have held the two top spots in the survey. They were followed by BMW, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz which all finished together with an 86% average.

ACSI founder Claes Fornell said: “Not long ago Detroit's products were clustered at the bottom of the industry. Although very few automakers improved this year, the domestic ones are either steady or have lost less in customer satisfaction compared to international competition."

Both Ford and GM were hit hard by the 2008 economic downturn with the latter filing for bankruptcy last year. Ford is planning to axe its Mercury brand by the end of this year to focus instead on Lincoln.

Chrysler, which also filed for bankruptcy and merged with Fiat, did not do as well. Its Jeep brand finished in last place, its Dodge nameplate was second to last and Chryslerfinished 15th out of the 19 ranked brands.

Nissan showed the biggest customer improvement - up 5.1% over last year.

Fornell added: "Although the near future looks promising for GM and Ford, at least in a competitive sense, the near term for the economy does not look bright. Labour markets show no sign of improvement, financial markets are edgy and consumers are cautious at a time when more household spending would be desirable."

ACSI's data is collected via phone interviews and each company's score represents an aggregate of 250 of these.

The survey put Lincoln-Mercury at 89%; Buick 88%; BMW, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz at 86%; Lexus with 85%; GMC, Honda and Toyota at 84% and Ford, Hyundai and Nissan at 82%.

Volkswagen had 81% followed by Chevrolet, Chrysler, Kia, Mazda with 80%. Dodge had 78% and Jeep was 77%.