Merc outshines rival Lexus

For the first time in 21 years, Mercedes-Benz beat Lexus in one of the industry's most watched initial excellence studies. Now it's aiming for the pinnacle overall spot.

In the 2010 J.D. Power and Associates US Initial excellence Survey, Mercedes-Benz was third, up from sixth in 2009. Lexus plunged from the top niche in 2009 to fourth this year. Porsche was first, followed by Honda's premium Acura division.

J.D. Power has been conducting the survey for 24 years, and Mercedes-Benz was excellence king earlier than Lexus arrived in the United States in 1989.

Mercedes-Benz was first in original quality in 1987, dropped to second place in 1988, regained the crown in 1989 and mislaid it to Lexus in 1990.

In recent years - particularly since the arrival of Mercedes-Benz USA chief executive Ernst Lieb - Daimler AG's Mercedes brand has been hellbent on regaining its premier position in the luxury-car world.

It has overhauled dealer relations, better manufacturing and engineering, and fine-tuned processes to deliver what executives depict as the dream for customers.

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