The latest word from J.D. Power and Associates' series of surveys shows U.S. new car buyers aren't as satisfied with their purchases, not because the cars are in any way worse, but because fuel prices are higher. The average score for new car satisfaction fell two points on the 1,000 point scale to 770. While that may seem like a small decline, J.D. Powers analysts think it's significant.

Counter intuitively, more cars are now achieving their claimed fuel efficiency, thanks to a readjustment in the way the EPA certifies fuel economy figures. Despite the greater accuracy, consumers simply can't be consoled - the bills at the pump are too disheartening.

"Average prices at the fuel pump have increased by 27 percent in the period between the 2007 and 2008 APEAL studies, creating heightened sensitivity to fuel economy among new-vehicle owners," said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. "Manufacturers that deliver more fuel-efficient vehicles and integrate alternative fuel technology into their designs stand a better chance of delighting their customers and being successful in this rapidly changing marketplace."

Proof of the truth in that statement comes in the form of Honda's high ranking in the 'owner delight' scores, taking the top spot in three model segments with its Fit, Odyssey and Ridgeline. Porsche, Toyota and VW all nabbed two spots each. Suprisingly, Toyota took two awards for its FJ Cruiser, a notorious fuel hog, and the Sequoia, a rather large SUV. BMW, Buick, Chevy, Dodge and Land Rover were among the other winners. Porsche took top overall honors for the fourth straight year, with Buick grabbing the award for most improved.