Be true to your brand, or not
Among the many ways you can measure the health of an automaker – quality, owner satisfaction, resale value – one of the interesting ones is loyalty, measured by whether someone trades in his or her existing car for another of the same brand, or not. It's interesting because it gives an idea whether a company is building cars people like, and whether owners trust that brand to deliver again.
Edmunds has published the results of its latest survey revealing how loyal people are to each brand. We've assembled the most and least loyal brands here. There are a number of predictable results, and a couple of surprises. Click on for more.
The Best 1. Toyota: 63%Not much of a surprise, here. Toyota has developed a reputation as solid as a diamond for dependability and practicality, even if they aren't especially exciting, that clearly wins over owners. Toyota was one of only three brands to have over 60 percent of its buyers trade in for another one. And even though Toyotas haven't been particularly exciting recently, new models such as the vastly better Camry are a sign things are getting better at Toyota.
Research the 2018 Toyota Camry
2. Subaru: 61%"Love, it's what makes a Subaru, a Subaru." It's also apparently what keeps Subaru owners coming back for more. There must be a bit of magic in Subaru's blend of practicality, all-wheel-drive, and pancake engine design. There is plenty to enjoy in the lineup, such as the improved Impreza and Crosstrek, sporty WRX and BRZ models, and spacious Outback and Legacy.
Research the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek
3. Honda: 60%Rounding out of the 60-percent trio is Honda. We can't blame new Honda buyers. Bread-and-butter models such as the new Accord and Civic are better than they have been in years in ride, handling, style, and especially torque thanks to new turbo engines. The rest of the lineup is plenty solid too, from the flexible Fit to the capacious Odyssey.
Research the 2018 Honda Accord
4. Ram: 54%
Ram's fourth-place ranking is interesting for a number of reasons. The finish means Ram is the American automaker with the most loyal buyers, and the most loyal truck brand.
Ram does have a bit of advantage in the truck department though, since F-150 and Silverado buyers will be wrapped up in Ford and Chevy numbers. Still, it greatly exceeds GMC, which only has 35 percent of its buyers coming back for more. Ram is also has the most loyal buyers of any Fiat-Chrysler brand, and by a lot. We'll get to that later.
Research the 2018 Ram 1500
5. Chevrolet: 54%Tying Ram is Chevrolet. This is possibly more impressive than Ram since Chevy encompasses not just niche products with loyal followings such as Silverado, Camaro and Corvette, but mainstream products including Malibu and Cruze. Chevy's sports cars are some of the best in the business, and its mainstream machines are comfortable cruisers.
Research the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro
The Worst 1. Chrysler: 16%At the very bottom of the list is Chrysler. This is a tad surprising since the Pacifica is excellent, and despite its age, the Chrysler 300 still has some charm. Only having two models to pick from certainly doesn't help – entry buyers would have to come from some other automaker, like FCA's own Fiat brand, but as you'll soon see that isn't a likely scenario, either.
Research the 2018 Chrysler 300
2. Smart: 19%The only thing that surprises us about Smart's loyalty is that it beat Chrysler. Not that the Smart is that bad, but it's impractical and a bit expensive. It's also only available as an electric car now. But even when gas ones were available, they weren't any more efficient than larger cars that cost the same.
Research the Smart ForTwo
3. Dodge: 19%Dodge ties Smart at 19 percent. Dodge's lineup is a little more varied with the Challenger, Charger, Durango, Journey, and Grand Caravan, but that means there aren't any entry-level cars to move up from in the lineup. And while some aging Dodge models have charming aspects, they're still long-in-tooth. As for the Journey and Grand Caravan, we're shocked Dodge is still trying to sell those prehistoric beasts.
Research the 2018 Dodge Challenger
4. Mitsubishi: 21%Another brand we're not surprised to see low on the list. Mitsubishi hasn't had much in the way of compelling product over the last few years, which led to slow sales. That might also have something to do with the loyalty issue, that there just aren't that many existing owners. But the company seems to be changing that with steadily increasing numbers the past few months.
Research the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander
5. Fiat: 22%Despite a tiny line-up (in more ways than one) and unimpressive sales, Fiat can stand proudly as having the third most loyal owners in the Fiat-Chrysler family. Jeep was second in loyalty with 41 percent. Fiat has recently made its lineup a bit more appealing by making a more powerful turbocharged engine standard on all 500s.
Research the 2018 Fiat 500
And the rest
Among the mainstream brands (i.e. not luxury), Hyundai and Kia were just barely behind the top five. Ford, Mazda, and Jeep were right in the middle, and right behind the bottom five were Mini, Buick, and GMC.
Edmunds also compared 2017 numbers with 2007, and it's interesting to see which companies have gained and which have lost. Subaru, Mazda, Mini, Jeep, and Kia all made big increases. Mini and Mazda had the biggest increases. Mini increased by more than double, going from 9 percent to 24. Mazda also saw a big gain going from 23 percent to 44 percent.
On the flip side, Dodge and Chrysler plummeted. Dodge dropped from 37 percent to 19, and Chrysler went from 29 percent to 16.