Many things go into the decisions you make when buying a car: cost, fuel economy, appearance, body type, and so on. For some people, the company that designed and manufactured the car weighs heavily into this choice.
That’s not too surprising — brand loyalty is often a huge part of consumer purchases — but it’s interesting to see how that loyalty shakes out in the auto industry. Experian analyzed its historical database of 585 million vehicle purchases to identify the manufacturers and models that have the highest customer loyalty. To determine loyalty rates, Experian researchers used a “disposal methodology,” meaning they tracked consumers’ behavior when they replaced their old cars with new ones.
There wasn’t much difference separating the companies with the most loyal customers: 60.8% of Ford owners replaced their old vehicles with another Ford, and Toyota was close behind. Here are the five vehicle makers with top consumer loyalty rates, all of which get more than half of their customers to come back for more of the same:
5. Lexus — 55.9%
4. Kia — 57.2%
3. Subaru — 57.7%
2. Toyota — 59.1%
1. Ford —60.8%
On a vehicle level, things were a bit more diverse. Experian looked at three popular vehicle segments and identified the make and model with the highest customer loyalty rate. For entry-level crossover utility vehicles, the Honda CR-V had 41.6% loyalty; the Ford F-150 won the full-sized pickup category with 45%; and the Toyota Corolla dominates small economy car loyalty with a 30.4% return rate.
Several things affect a consumer’s manufacturer preference, but perhaps the most influential factor is how the customer buys the car. Experian found a 20% increase in corporate loyalty when customers financed their vehicles through the company’s captive financing arm (meaning the car company has a financing subsidiary dedicated to helping customers buy the parent company’s product). If the customer financed a luxury vehicle through the company’s captive financing arm, loyalty increased.
Experian also found that a buyer’s credit score has no impact on whether that person is loyal to a particular vehicle brand. Credit scores play a huge role in vehicle financing, though, so before you go shopping for your favorite type of car, make sure you can afford to buy or lease what you want. A high credit score will give you access to the lowest auto loan interest rates, making monthly payments more affordable and potentially giving you more choices. You can get two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com, along with personalized tips for improvement.
More on Auto Loans:
- Are There Car Loans for People With Bad Credit?
- What to Do If You Can’t Make Your Car Payments
- Top 5 Worst Car Buying Mistakes