Lincoln MKX Beats Undefeated Lexus RX: ''Quality, innovation, and brand equity creates value,'' says Strategic Vision



    SAN DIEGO, October 23 /CNW/ - Can a Ford beat a Toyota in Total Value?
Yes! Although Ford Motor Company obtained only four Total Value leadership
positions over the past four years, in 2007 Ford has added three additional
wins to its collection: the Lincoln MKX, Ford Edge and Expedition EL. The
Lincoln MKX is especially worthy, as it outscored the undefeated Lexus RX350.
Although the Lexus brand name offers its customers a stronger belief in
reliability and durability, the MKX product characteristics and features,
specifically in areas as interior design, quality and roominess, offered at a
lower price, makes each dollar spent on the MKX a better choice than the
RX350.

    The San Diego-based research firm Strategic Vision today announced the
2007 Total Value Index(TM) (TVI) results, based on the ratings of new vehicle
owners. The calculation of TVI incorporates explicit statements that owners
make about value (e.g. expected reliability, expected fuel economy, price
paid, expected resale value, etc.). TVI also incorporates the importance of
the variables that make up the ownership experience, and it is here that
Strategic Vision finds "True Value" -- the worth of the attribute weighed
against the costs.

    Toyota Motor Sales is still the company to beat in customer value; they
have had 20 leaders in Strategic Vision's Total Value Index(TM) (TVI) over the
past four years. In 2007 they add four more, three for Toyota (Yaris, Yaris
hatchback and 4Runner) and one for the Lexus LS430 (the leader in its segment
since 2004). "Toyota has preached their foundational messages of quality and
reliability consistently over many years, and customers have responded by
placing their trust and their money into Toyota products, making Toyota the
juggernaut it is today," says Dr. Darrel Edwards, Founder and CEO of Strategic
Vision.

    American Honda has taken more leadership positions this year than any
other corporation with six leading vehicles in five competitive segments.
Honda's Total Value winners are the Civic, Civic Hybrid, Accord Coupe,
Odyssey, and Ridgeline for Honda and the TSX for Acura. At times Honda's
strong quality cues were matched by other competitors, but it was Honda's
brand name that was associated with resale value that provided the final
reassurance, making Honda the better investment.

    Hyundai earned two Total Value wins with the Hyundai Azera and Santa Fe.
Although the Hyundai brand name currently does not carry the same level of
reassurance that more established brands do, the Azera and Santa Fe both led
their segments by providing products high in perceived quality, providing
exceptional features, and being exceptionally priced -- all supported with
Hyundai's warranty.

    Kia improved its overall perceived value even though it had no top spots
in 2007. Models such as the Kia Amanti, Sedona, Sportage and Sorento all found
themselves ranked 2nd or 3rd in Total Value. Executive VP and COO of Kia, Len
Hunt has stated that he looks for Kia to be a brand that customers are
passionate about -- a passion based in integrity and confidence. "Kia products
are inspiring its expectations among their customers, delivering security and
passion that have allowed Kia to remain near the top in value even though Kia
has raised the price of some models," says Alexander Edwards, President of
Strategic Vision's Automotive Division.

    Volkswagen of America was seen as the best full-line corporation in value
overall with two Total Value leaders -- Volkswagen Jetta and Audi A3. In
addition, Volkswagen and Audi brands consistently delivered what their
consumers have wanted for their money. They seem to have responded positively
to Volkswagen's repositioning of their vehicle prices, equating the lower
price combined with the ability to join the Volkswagen community in overall
strong value.

    For the second year, GM was the top domestic corporation presenting four
2007 Total Value leaders. The Chevrolet Corvette Coupe and Convertible, GMC
Sierra 1500 and Sierra 2500/3500 led in Total Value in their respective
segments. Most interesting is Sierra 1500's lead over the Toyota Tundra. As
seen in multiple instances in 2007, the Toyota brand name stood for
reliability, but the product cues were where the Tundra was slightly behind
the Sierra. For the Sierra, GM's new warranty also had a strong impact in
reassuring customers that their investment was more secure. Last year,
Strategic Vision noted that as GM communicated the right quality cues with a
reassuring warranty, it would be positioned for success.

    "The customer can perceive exceptional value in vehicles that are more
expensive. They get what they want in terms of quality, product
characteristics and features, innovation and image," states Dr. Edwards. Value
leader MINI Cooper leads its segment for the sixth year. Other winners were
the Volvo V50 and Mercedes ML.

    "Value isn't simply the cheap alternative, the choice with the largest
incentive, or the option with the biggest warranty. Value begins with the
promises inherently made by the brand name, is then supported by the economic
implications of purchase, and is ultimately defined by and ends with the
product quality cues," Alexander Edwards concluded. "With so many high quality
choices today and new choices coming (perhaps) from places like China in the
future, understanding how brand equity combined with the right product will be
the keys to success in tomorrow's market."

    Buyers rated the following vehicles tops in Total Value (TVI) in their
segments:

    
    Small Car               Toyota Yaris, Honda         774 / 773 / 772(b)
                             Civic(a) & Civic Hybrid
    Small Multi-Function    Toyota Yaris Hatchback      792
    Medium Car              Volkswagen Jetta            799
    Medium Multi-Function   Volvo V50 Wagon             755
    Larger Car              Hyundai Azera(a)            778
    Near-Luxury Car         Acura TSX                   799
    Luxury Car              Lexus LS 430(a)             802
    Luxury Multi-Function   Audi A3                     768
    Small Specialty (less   MINI Cooper(a)              824
     than $28,000)
    Small Specialty         Chevrolet Corvette(a)       826
     (greater than $28,000)
    Mid-Specialty Car       Honda Accord Coupe(a)       804
    Convertible (less than  MINI Cooper Convertible(a)  802
     $30,000)
    Convertible (greater    Chevrolet Corvette(a)       812
     than $30,000)
    Minivan                 Honda Odyssey               770
    Small SUV               Hyundai Santa Fe            781
    Medium SUV              Toyota 4Runner              762
    Medium Crossover        Ford Edge                   764
    Large SUV               Ford Expedition EL          747
    Near Luxury SUV         Lincoln MKX                 798
    Luxury SUV              Mercedes ML                 777
    Compact Pickup          Honda Ridgeline(a)          736
    Full-Size Pickup        GMC Sierra 1500             747
    Heavy Duty Pickup       GMC Sierra 2500/3500        694
                             Classic

    (a) 2006 Total Value Award(TM) winners / (b) Differences of 1-2 points
     are not statistically significant.
    

    Strategic Vision is a research-based consultancy with thirty-five years
of experience in understanding the consumers' and constituents'
decision-making systems for a variety of clients, including most automotive
manufacturers, American Airlines and Procter & Gamble. Its unique expertise is
in identifying consumers' comprehensive motivational hierarchies, including
the product attributes, personal benefits, values and emotions, and images
that drive perceptions and behaviors. The ValueCentered(R) psychology and
research methods were defined by Dr. Darrel Edwards in 1968.

    For further information, contact Alexander Edwards or Dr. Darrel Edwards
at (858) 576-7141; or visit www.strategicvision.com.




For further information:

For further information: Strategic Vision Alexander Edwards,
858-576-7141 Dr. Darrel Edwards, 858-576-7141 www.strategicvision.com

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