Stand By Your Man(ufacturer): Here Are the Makes and Models Owners Can't Stay Away From

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Brand loyalty is a central element in the consumer culture that we’re all slaves to. There is a specific Korean company that makes most of the electronics I own, an American distiller that I trust with my alcohol, and I have never purchased any toilet paper other than the one that has the dog for a mascot. When I buy another motorcycle, I already know what it’s going to be — and I can say the same thing about jeans, waffles, or boots.

As automotive enthusiasts, most of us are informed enough to have our preferences without succumbing to a blind faith in any singular model or brand. That said, the rest of the population isn’t made up of car devotees. Some people will happily return to a familiar dealership, buy a familiar truck, drive their new purchase home, and immediately apply a decal of Calvin urinating on the emblem of a rival brand.

Fortunately, it’s not always about automotive zealotry. Often, people return to a particular model or manufacturer because it treated them right. As it turns out, they’ve been awarding trophies based on this phenomenon for two decades. Last night, business and marketing research provider IHS Markit presented the 21st annual Automotive Loyalty Awards in Detroit.

So, where do the strongest automotive loyalties lie?

Of the thirty winners, General Motors took the big prize with Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer. However, Ford achieved the highest overall loyalty rate of all makes during the 2016 model year, winning the Overall Loyalty to Make award. When that support was broken down along ethnic lines, Ford showed a particularly strong devotion among African-American consumers.

Asian customers returned to Mercedes-Benz products the most, while Hispanic buyers were most loyal to Toyota.

Tesla was recognized for bringing in the most committed consumers in 2016, while Cadillac saw the largest influx of “super loyalists” — those willing to repurchase a vehicle from their chosen brand 76 percent of the time.

As for individual models, it should be no surprise that Ford’s F-Series is a popular repeat buy for those seeking a heavy-duty pickup, while Ram’s 1500 ended up being the more popular half-ton. Also unsurprising to see on the list of consumer darlings was Jeep’s Wrangler and Grand Cherokee.

The Chrysler Town & Country spent its final year on Earth beloved and believed-in by minivan loyalists.

True believers in luxury were more likely than not to repurchase their Mercedes-Benz GLS or G-Class. The same was true for sedan enthusiasts that opted for an S-Class. Germany dominated the sports car faithful as well — Volkswagen’s GTI and the Porsche 911 both offered a superior rate of customer retention.

In the bland world of family cars, Honda’s Accord took the midsize car category and Subaru’s Outback was the popular crossover pick.

IHS Markit’s analysis revealed that, with 17.5 million new vehicle registrations for the 2016 model year, nearly 53 percent of all customers returned to purchase a vehicle from the brand they already owned — representing a record loyalty rate and 1.3 percent increase from the 2015 model year.

[Image: Honda]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Cls12vg30 Cls12vg30 on Jan 12, 2017

    I grew up with Mopars and the Buffalo Bills. After years of living all over, and owning several different brands, I have been unable to get either of these out of my blood. Pray for me.

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jan 12, 2017

      You have a savior complex. The Mopar affinity can be corrected (I have some, too), but your love for the Buffalo Bills is beyond hope. :)

  • Lost10mm Lost10mm on Jan 13, 2017

    GM for sure! A quirk here and there like any other manufacturer, but they run forever. Been associated with two Toyotas from the ex and the current, and I don't get all this quality BS. '93 Celica had brake and suspension issues, '09 Corolla had multi recalls and electrical issues and to top it all off they were plain as vanilla, but I guess that is what most non car enthusiasts like. BUT GM is killing off anything budget performance related with 4 doors and succumbed to the crossover craze. WRXs and Golf Rs have caught my eye now.

  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.
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