Buyers of new Saturn vehicles thought they got the greatest value for their money of all brands selling 2000 models.

The brand scored highest (747) on Strategic Vision's 2000 Total Value Index(TM). With a possible score of 1,000 the index considers all economic issues as well as Total Quality in its calculation.

The San Diego-based research firmed released its findings today. Infiniti's G20 sedan (798) scored the highest of all models, followed by the Volkswagen Beetle (792) and Lexus ES 300 (785). The Mercedes Benz C (772) and E-classes (770) and the Volvo S70 and Infiniti I30 (tied at 764) rounded out the top five.

The only domestics among the top 10 models were the Saturn Coupe (760) and Chevrolet Monte Carlo (757). Saturn was the only domestic brand in the top ten, though Chevrolet models led in four segments.

"Value is the foundation of a strong brand," said Daniel Gorrell, Strategic Vision vice president, "because it makes owners feel like they made a smart choice and are winners. The domestics often don't cut it because their resale value and long-term durability are perceived as less."

The rankings are based on the responses of more than 55,000 new vehicle buyers. Owners made their purchases in January, February and March 2000, and had driven them for at least three months before being surveyed. Nissan was the most improved brand, followed by Land Rover and Hyundai. Nissan's Xterra won the mid-size sport utility segment, while the Hyundai Accent led in small cars.

The top ten brands, in order, are: Saturn (747), Lexus (745), BMW (744), Volkswagen (744), Infiniti (744), Volvo (741), Mercedes Benz (736), Acura (736), Hyundai (732), Honda (728), Audi (723) and Toyota (716)

By segment, the value winners are:

Small Car..........Hyundai Accent 744

Compact Car..........Saturn LS Sedan 745

Mid-Size Car..........Infiniti G20 798

Mid-Size Coupe..........Chevrolet Monte Carlo 757

Larger Car..........Chrysler Concorde 746

Sporty Car < $30,000..........volkswagen="" beetle="" 792="">

Near-Luxury Car..........Lexus ES 300 785

Luxury Car..........Mercedes Benz E-Class 770

Convertibles < $30,000..........chevrolet="" cavalier="" 721="">

Convertibles > $30,000..........BMW Z3 Roadster 740

Minivan..........Chevrolet Venture 683

Small SUV..........Honda CR-V 701

Mid-Size SUV..........Nissan Xterra 685

Full-Size SUV..........Chevrolet Tahoe 689

Luxury SUV..........Lexus RX 300 734

Compact Pickup..........Toyota Tacoma 690

Full-Size Pickup..........Toyota Tundra 703

"The winning brands and models used different strategies to get to the top," said Gorrell. "Hyundai is finally hitting its stride with the right product, price and warranty mix. Those who chose Saturn, on the other hand, perceive value in believing they will be well taken care of if anything goes wrong. Others score well because of good deals on top of strong ownership experience within their segments." Strategic Vision has released its TVI scores annually since 1996.

The research firm also issues yearly its Total Quality Index(TM) (TQI), measuring satisfaction with the complete ownership experience, and Problem Impact Measure(TM) (PIM), calculating how much defects impact satisfaction. Strategic Vision is a consumer research and consulting firm whose clients include automotive manufactures, Coca Cola, American Airlines and Proctor and Gamble. Its unique specialty is understanding and measuring buyers' emotional responses.

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