Four Toyota models rank highest in satisfying owners, according to the JD Power and Associates/CAR Magazine 2006 South Africa Customer Satisfaction Index.

The four awards - the most received by any manufacturer in the study - were for the Tazz (a 1980s generation Corolla kept in production as an entry-level model), Camry, Land Cruiser Prado (Colorado) and Hilux.

BMW, Honda, Subaru and Volkswagen models each received two awards, while Ford and Chevrolet each received one.

At the brand level, Honda led the South Africa market in CSI by 11 index points over second-ranked Audi. Rounding out the top five nameplates were Subaru, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, respectively.

Overall satisfaction reached its highest level-an index score of 790 (out of 1,000), which is an increase of 15 index points since the study's launch in 2004. Although rated lowest of all four factors, satisfaction with ownership costs has increased continuously since 2004, by 20 index points overall.

"The South Africa market is moving in the right direction in terms of satisfying car owners," said Brian Walters, senior director of European, Middle East and Africa operations at JD Power and Associates. "As we have seen in other markets in which we conduct the CSI Study, a higher level of satisfaction raises customer's expectation, which is further incentive for the market players to deliver an even better experience."

Since the study's launch, Honda has improved by 41 index points overall - more than any other top-five ranked nameplate within the same period. Honda received the highest ratings in two of the four CSI factors: vehicle quality/reliability and service satisfaction. Audi led in vehicle appeal, while BMW (mostly produced locally) excelled in ownership costs.

"Improvement in satisfaction has been widespread among nameplates, with satisfaction improving at all levels of performance," said Walters.

"Understanding its own customer base and implementing relevant improvement measures applies to all nameplates to the same degree."