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 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 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 earns the Online Auto Shopping Brand of the Year accolade, followed by in second place. is the more familiar brand, due largely to its long heritage and strong association as the industry benchmark for used car values. Additionally, 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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