1. Chevy Volt
2. Subaru Legacy
3. VW Passat
4. Kia Optima
5. Subaru Impreza sedan
Source: Strategic Vision
Small car: Fiat 500 hatchback
Small multi-function car: VW Golf
Midsize car: Chevy Volt
Luxury car: Audi 8 sedan
Minivan: Honda Odyssey
Full size pickup: Ford F-150
Heavy duty pickup: Ford F-250/350
Source: Strategic Vision
Volkswagen took the top spot among automakers in a new national survey measuring "total quality," with the Chattanooga-made Passat landing a top three ranking in its segment.
The ranking by San Diego-based research group Strategic Vision looked at not just the lowest number of vehicle problems but overall quality including innovation, styling and how a model anticipates what customers want.
Toyota finished No. 1 among automakers in terms of lowest reported problems.
Still, Sherrill Whitfield, sales manager at Al Johnson Volkswagen in Dalton, Ga., said he's seeing more VWs with fewer problems. The 2012 Passat was ranked No. 3 in the survey among midsize cars.
"I tip my hat to the Chattanooga plant," Whitfield said.
Guenther Scherelis, general manager of communication for VW in Chattanooga, said the plant has "a passion for detail."
He said workers "are committed to delivering best-in-quality, reliable Passats that meet or exceed customers' expectations. Volkswagen Chattanooga is proud to have contributed to the Best Total Quality Award for the Volkswagen brand."
VW has targeted improving its quality rankings. In the past, Consumer Reports and other outlets have hit the German automaker for problems with its vehicles.
Alexander Edwards, Strategic Vision president, said the key to success and sales are products that satisfy customers' needs for innovation and complete quality.
"When measuring quality, the complete experience must be part of the calculation and include all the perceptions that influence how people make their decision," he said in a news release.
Strategic Vision put the Chevrolet Volt at the top of the list of midsize cars followed by the Subaru Legacy. The Nissan Altima was tied for 9th along with the Ford Fusion.
Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group tied for second overall among carmakers behind VW.
Top finishers for VW in their respective segments were the Golf, Eos and Tiquan along with the Audi A4 and A8 sedans, according to Strategic Vision's Total Quality Index.
The index was calculated from 45,390 buyers who bought 2012 model vehicles from September 2011 through December.
Whitfield said he's surprised the report put the Passat at No. 3 among midsize cars.
"It surprised me it didn't get first place," he said.