Market research firm Harris Interactive has revealed that Mercedes-Benz and Honda are the two strongest auto brands in America according to its survey of more than 38,000 people.

The survey, known as the 2012 Harris EquiTrend study, puts a number to all of those warm and fuzzy feelings people have toward a particular brand as a way to measure its equity. Broken down a different way, the survey points out that American's favorite automotive brands are German and Japanese.

Mercedes took top honors in the Luxury Automotive Brand of the Year for the second year in a row. It was followed by BMW, Lexus, Cadillac and Acura.

In the Full Line Automotive Brand of the Year category, Honda grabbed the top spot, beating out Toyota, Ford (last year's winner), Chevrolet and Nissan. (Apparently Harris' definition of "full line" differs a bit from ours, as brands like Subaru and Hyundai were also included).

Harris doesn't provide much guidance about what sort of questions it asked to survey takers, but the final results seems to closely resemble America's sales totals as well. This suggests people tend to like what they buy, or at least like what they've bought. Scroll down to read the press release to see what Harris says are America's favorite in-car audio brands, motorcycle marques, tire companies and so on.
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2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend® Automotive Scorecard: Mercedes-Benz and Honda Lead;

Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com Debuts as Online Auto Shopping Brand of the Year
Napa AutoCare, Bose Car Audio, Pennzoil Motor Oil, Michelin, Garmin, and Yamaha Motorcycles rank highest in their categories

NEW YORK, June 25, 2012-After three years of turmoil and consumer skepticism, the automotive industry is beginning to rebound. With new car sales finally on the rise, two manufacturers - Mercedes-Benz and Honda - reign supreme in successfully harnessing their equity and leading their industries as Brands of the Year. In fact, Mercedes-Benz is enjoying this achievement for the second year in a row, according to the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend® (EQ) study, a yearly brand-health assessment from Harris Interactive, one of the world's leading custom and multi-client market research firms.

Mercedes-Benz Retains Title as Lead Luxury Auto Brand

In a segment where luxury is synonymous with superb quality and craftsmanship, the Mercedes-Benz brand resonates more strongly with consumers than any other luxury automotive brand included in the Harris Poll EquiTrend study. Mercedes-Benz's strong performance in EQ has earned it the Luxury Automotive Brand of the Year accolade for the second year running.

"Mercedes-Benz and Lexus have been battling over this top ranking for the last eight years," says Mike Chadsey, Senior Consultant for Harris Interactive's Customer Relationship Consulting team. "Mercedes has ranked at the top for two years in a row and four of the last eight years, while Lexus has made it to the top spot three times. BMW is also usually within the top three, with especially strong scores over the last three years. Quality and Purchase Consideration both play important roles in these annual rankings," says Chadsey.

Beyond these perennial leaders, Cadillac, Acura, Infiniti, and Audi also rank above the category's average equity score.

Honda: America's Favorite Full Line Automaker

The ranking was close and the results are in - Honda overtakes both Toyota and Ford to become the 2012 Full Line Automotive Brand of the Year. It replaces last year's top-ranked automaker, Ford.

Having overcome some quality concerns and recalls in 2011, Toyota has come back strong. It climbs into second place, which is up two notches from its fourth-place position in 2011, and that much closer to the top spot it held only two years ago in 2010. Toyota's increase in brand equity is the largest of the brands measured in the category.

Although its equity score has actually increased, Ford has slipped to third place in the 2012 rankings- a further testament to the highly competitive nature of the automotive market. Chevrolet, Nissan, Subaru, Hyundai, and Volkswagen also rank above average in the full line automotive category.

In addition to measuring the brand equity of the luxury and full line automotive manufacturers, EQ also measures the auto industry's ancillary products and services, including tires, motor oil, and service centers, among others. Here's a look at the top brands in each category and how each of the categories stacks up overall:

Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com Debuts as Online Auto Shopping Brand of the Year

Online auto sales sites constitute a new Harris Poll EquiTrend category for 2012, and Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com earns the Online Auto Shopping Brand of the Year accolade, followed by Edmunds.com in second place. KBB.com is the more familiar brand, due largely to its long heritage and strong association as the industry benchmark for used car values. Additionally, KBB.com enjoys high Quality scores, compared to other brands surveyed.

Napa AutoCare Takes Brand of the Year Title in EQ Debut

First-time EQ brand, Napa AutoCare outranks 19 competitors to earn the Automotive Service Center Brand of the Year accolade in the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend study. Discount Tire, also a new brand to the EQ study, places second, surpassing last year's top-ranked brand, Goodyear Tire and Service Network, which fell to third. National Tire and Battery, Valvoline Instant Oil Change, Firestone Automotive Service Centers, Walmart Tire & Lube Express, and Mobil 1 Lube Express all round out the top eight brands above the category average.

Bose Tops New Car Audio Category

Another of Harris Poll EquiTrend's new categories is Car Audio, where Bose debuts as the Brand of the Year. This is an especially important finding for luxury automotive manufacturers, which select branded audio systems that fit their own brand promises and appeal to consumers.

"Bose enjoys very strong Familiarity, Quality, and Purchase Intention scores among the general population, as well as top-ranked Leadership and Brand Momentum scores. Clearly, Americans see Bose as a leader within its category, as well as a brand that has a bright future," says Chadsey.

Well-known by consumers, Harman/Kardon, Boston Acoustics, Infinity, and Alpine all ranked above the category average.

Pennzoil Motor Oil Makes It Three Years in a Row

In a category filled with many well-known brands, Pennzoil takes the Motor Oil Brand of the Year honor for the third consecutive year. Despite a large drop in overall Familiarity, Pennzoil retains its strong Quality and Purchase Intention scores to keep its top ranking. Mobil 1, Valvoline, Rotella, Quaker State, and Castrol motor oils also placed above the category average.

Michelin Enjoys Six Years as America's Tire Brand

Michelin continues to dominate the automotive tire market, achieving the highest-ranked position in the Harris Poll EquiTrend study for six consecutive years. As usual, Goodyear and BF Goodrich round out the top three brands in the 2012 study. Bridgestone, Pirelli, and Cooper also rank better than the category average.

Garmin Navigates to Top Position

Garmin is ranked as the GPS Navigation Brand of the Year for 2012. Garmin leads in key aspects of brand equity, including Familiarity, Quality, and Purchase Intention.

Yamaha Cuts off Harley-Davidson

Gains made in Quality and Purchase Consideration by Yamaha pushed the brand ahead of Harley-Davidson to secure the Motorcycle Brand of the Yearaccolade in the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend study.

Higher scores in Familiarity, Quality, and Purchase Intention helped move Yamaha ahead of Harley-Davidson.

About Harris Poll EquiTrend®

Harris Poll EquiTrend® is a leading Brand Equity tracking study conducted by Harris Interactive that measures and compares brand health for more than 1,500 brands. The study was conducted online from January 31 through February 20, 2012 and analyzes the responses of over 38,500 consumers on key measures of brand health - including how well the public knows a brand, how positively they think of the brand and their consideration to do business with or donate to a brand. Each brand is rated 1,000 times among respondents who are familiar with the brand. Harris Interactive has conducted its EquiTrend study regularly since 1989, and can offer yearly trended data from 2005. The Equity Score, a key take-away from EquiTrend, has been validated against financial performance by Georgetown University.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The Harris Poll EquiTrend® study results disclosed in this release may not be used for advertising, marketing or promotional purposes without the prior written consent of Harris Interactive.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 144 Comments
      Steelerfan701
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm all about a good Foreign Vs. Domestic Debate, which EVERY ONE of these articles somehow turns into. The fact of that matter is, Foreign cars have been here forever. Even in the fabulous 50's when the domestics were thriving, foreign cars were purchased here. A company has to sell hundreds of thousands of vehicles before it honestly really matters to another car company. In it's last year of production, Mercury sold 92,000 cars and that wasn't enough to keep it in business, so if three people on here bought a Camry, it's really not worth ruining your day over, even though the Camry is a popular car... you don't think people in China are pissed because there are so many "Foreign Buicks" driving around. I own and drive GM currently, but let's all come to a consensus, cars like the Chevy Tracker, Aveo, HHR, Sebring, G3, Intrepid, etc were insulting to us as American car buyers...as were the Toyota Echo, Yaris, etc. In a way I am glad Toyota came here and did as well as they did, I drive my new GMC, Chevy, or slightly older Buick down the road, it is actually something that people can see is a damn nice car, rather than me trying to convince them now. It was competition that improved our Domestic brands, competition is healthy, it was that competiton that allowed the Fusion to make Toyota sweat, do you see how many Cruzes are driving around now? And the drivers LOVE them, more than a Civic in some cases, do you think that would have happened if the Sunfire was still on the market. I have always driven and loved GM or Ford, and still do, however, the difference now is I can choose ANY GM or Ford because they are all decent products, before I had to be selective. The new Impala is gorgeous, people will buy that over an Avalon when it comes out, hands down. The current model, not bad...but let's agree in white or silver, you assume the person just left a Hertz rental car station. In a strange, backwards way, it was Toyota that gave us the nicest GM, Ford, and even Chrysler? products we've had in ages, and believe me, Toyota and their drivers have taken notice.
      Jonathan Arena
      • 3 Years Ago
      The fact that Toyota tops this list is further proof that the vast majority of Americans are morons.
      mikemaj82
      • 3 Years Ago
      considering that minorities are now the majority in this country, there's no surprise here.
        Myself
        • 3 Years Ago
        @mikemaj82
        Sure. If people like you are a majority in the US of A, the country is screwed....
      Rob
      • 3 Years Ago
      Those people buying Honda and Toyota vehicles forfeit their right to complain about the U.S. economy. Of course you'll also see them flying a U.S. flag at their house.
        Nick
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Rob
        Please... please go... Go ahead an continue driving your Ford or GM product assembled in Mexico. Honda and Toyota has the highest ratio of cars made in America over the 'domestics.'
          merlot066
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Nick
          Really??? Because using May sales numbers 73% of Fords were made in the US and only 61.7% of Toyotas were assembled in the US. With the exception of the Transit Connect (which will be assembled in America within the next two years) all of Ford's non-US models are made in neighboring countries with whom we have favorable trade relations (NAFTA). Toyota makes the RX and Yaris in Canada and all of their other imported models come on a boat from Japan. Also the last time domestic parts content was calculated GM came in first with 69%, Ford came next with 64%, Chrysler came third with 60%, then Honda came fourth with 58%, and Toyota came in fifth with only 44% domestic parts content.
          MAX
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Nick
          Any proof Toyota has highest ratio of cars built in America? THIS IS A LIE THAT IS TOLD OVER AND OVER AGAIN AS IF SOMEBODY WANTS TO SPREAD PROPAGANDA. BTW, every Scion, every Prius, every all rear wheel drive Lexus and Toyota, all 4runners, every Land Cruiser, every Yaris and iQ ARE MADE IN JAPAN! Just look at the vin#'s!!!!! Ford Explorer and Dodge Avenger have the highest domestic content. http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2011/04/letter-to-the-editor.html>
          jz78817
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Nick
          My Ford was built in Michigan. your move.
        Myself
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Rob
        I seriously wish you wake up one morning to the world where there's not a single foreign brand manufacturing plant in the US and you'd embark on writing this post on a computer made in the USA. You'd beg for the good old days to return.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        • 3 Years Ago
        [blocked]
      desinerd1
      • 3 Years Ago
      wow! apparently people prefer cars that can reliably take them from point A to point B. Who would have thought. It's like choosing a phone based on call quality rather than it's looks.
        maverick_02
        • 3 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        Love it!! :-) So incredibly true. Who would have thought. In times like these auto makers are cutting costs, it's all over autoblog. Honda I'm sure does in some ways buy they don't sacrifice what really counts and what you get is a overall great vehicle that just won't break. They also make most of their vehicles right here in the USA and still churn a profit. Hear that Big Three who import their cars from Mexico and Canada.
          merlot066
          • 3 Years Ago
          @maverick_02
          Really??? Because using May sales numbers 73% of Fords were made in the US and only 61.7% of Toyotas were made in the US. With the exception of the Transit Connect (which will be assembled in America within the next two years) all of Ford's non-US models are made in neighboring countries with whom we have favorable trade relations (NAFTA). Toyota makes the RX and Yaris in Canada and all of their other imported models come on a boat from Japan. Also the last time domestic parts content was calculated GM came in first with 69%, Ford came next with 64%, Chrysler came third with 60%, then Honda came fourth with 58%, and Toyota came in fifth with only 44% domestic parts content. Don't hurt yourself falling off your soapbox...
          Temple
          • 3 Years Ago
          @maverick_02
          @Merlot You need to look it at more than "assembled in" the US levels. The question is where do all the parts that make that vehicle come from. But its pretty sad to see that Ford & Toyota are so close in "Made in America" levels. Worse, when you look at actual American-made parts Ford & the big 3 use, its even worse. The F150, which is assembled in the US, only has a 55% of its parts sourced from the US. The Toyota Tundra, by comparison, sources 80% of its parts from the US, and is built in Texas. GM is no better. http://www.tundraheadquarters.com/blog/2010/06/25/toyota-tundra-most-american/ The Ford Fusion is made in Mexico, the Mazda 6, which is platform brothers with the Fusion, was made next to the Mustang in Michigan until recently. Why is it that Mazda can make their 6 in the US and Ford can't? Something very wrong with that.
          carguy1701
          • 3 Years Ago
          @maverick_02
          Temple: the next gen Fusion will be built at both the Mexican plant and the Flat Rock plant (replacing the 6), depending on which powertrain you want (gas vehicles will be built at both plants, while hybrid and plug-in hybrid models will hail from Mexico).
        • 3 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        [blocked]
        maverick_02
        • 3 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        I don't remember saying anything about Toyota or Ford. Agree with Temple. Can't just look at one figure. The one quoted by Tempke actually provides a much better picture.
      miammt
      • 3 Years Ago
      for a company that makes crappy cars nowadays, that's surprising. I rather go with ford than a honda in this day and age
        suthrn2nr
        • 3 Years Ago
        @miammt
        I'm disappointed in their styling and lack of sports cars, but they are far from crappy cars. The current accord still rates well against the competition, the TL and TSX are also great values (ignoring the beak). I would say their biggest competition is ford at this point, because people are falling back in love with "American" cars.
      janka51
      • 3 Years Ago
      and people wonder why the US is in such a mess, bye American the job you save may be your own.
      BDolman
      • 3 Years Ago
      1/3 Americans are fat or stupid, the rest are both
      Agent55
      • 3 Years Ago
      So in other words, the general public are not car people because Honda has been blowing it for a few years now. Case in point: the new Civic.
      carguy1701
      • 3 Years Ago
      With only .04 points separating them from Toyota, this is a pyrrhic victory at best for Honda. Also, I'd wager that incenctives played a part in this 'win'.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @carguy1701
        [blocked]
      jesscott
      • 3 Years Ago
      Honda fanboys rejoice. Seriously for some people Honda could make an absolute piece of junk and they would still fawn all over it. I'll keep my Fords, it's ok they have never ever failed me.
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