Apparently tough and muscular are favored by truck and SUV buyers. Who knew? In a Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch poll, active car shoppers picked the look of Ford's trucks and non-luxury SUVs over the competition.

Though the poll was done in April, current sales numbers seem to prove it, with some of Ford's pickups seeing more than 50% sales increases over last year despite rising gas prices. Ford recently increased its sales predictions of the Edge, and says its new Expedition had its eighth consecutive month of higher sales in April. Ford's May sales overall were down 10.4%, a drop the company blamed on a cutback in fleet purchases.

The KBB report is good news for Ford, of course, but KBB says it should be very interesting to other carmakers.

"As vehicle reliability reaches near-parity in the market, we predict that exterior styling will play an even bigger role in building new-vehicle sales and brand equity," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst, Kelley Blue Book. "The results of the Brand Watch study demonstrate that the industry is, and should be, placing great emphasis on what their vehicles look like."

The second best looking trucks, according to those polled, are built by GMC, with Chevy third, Dodge fourth and Toyota fifth. Honda brought up the rear in eleventh place. Among SUVs, Ford was first, Toyota second and GMC third. The luxury SUV segment is dominated by imports, with BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz taking the top three spots.

Read the KBB press release here, and Ford's press release after the jump.


DEARBORN, May 16, 2007 - The latest automotive research from Kelley Blue Book's "Brand Watch" says Ford is tops in exterior styling for trucks and SUVs.

The research measured the perceptions of exterior stylishness among active shoppers in various categories. In the truck and non-luxury SUV categories, shoppers rated Ford products number one.

"As vehicle reliability reaches near-parity in the market, we predict that exterior styling will play an even bigger role in building new-vehicle sales and brand equity," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst, Kelley Blue Book. "The results of the Brand Watch study demonstrate that the industry is, and should be, placing great emphasis on what their vehicles look like."

Ford's F-Series remains the best-selling vehicle line in the United States. Along with the F-150, the lineup also includes the Super Duty trucks. Redesigned for the 2008 model year, Super Duties feature a raised nose and enlarged grill and air vents mounted on the fender behind the wheel arch.

Among SUVs, the 2007 Ford Expedition features a bold new exterior design inspired by Ford F-Series pickup trucks. The new Expedition posted its eighth consecutive month of higher sales in April.

The 2008 Escape has a completely new look inside and out, including a new rugged front and a raised belt line for a stronger look. The Ford Explorer remains a top seller in the traditional medium SUV category.

Available to vehicle manufacturers and auto industry professionals, Brand Watch taps into active shoppers to determine their perceptions of automotive brands within specific automotive segments. Brand Watch further delves into how each manufacturer's brand equity differs across vehicle segments, compares the relative standing of each make vs. competitive makes, and reveals the decision factors of car-buyers within each make and segment. Detailed demographic and psychographic information is also collected, reported and detailed throughout Brand Watch's comprehensive study which is available quarterly from Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research.