Best Must-Drive, Most-Loyal, Best-Ranked Dealers SUVs, Sedans: Ford, Toyota, Chevy, Honda, Buick, Volvo

There are hundreds of auto models to choose from. The greatest traction and most loyalty is for SUVs with media outlets claiming the best SUVs and the SUVs that car-buyers must drive. Buyers should also look at if their car will retain value when they trade it in or sell it. Buyer satisfaction is linked to comparing vehicles before you buy them, therefore it’s always a good idea to research vehicles before you buy them.

RepairPal’s Notes Compare Compare…., the leading website for automotive service and repair, released the results of a survey detailing consumer research habits during the car-buying journey. The study marked the launch of RepairPal’s new Car Comparison feature, which allows users to compare vehicles side-by-side in terms of reliability, repair costs, and owner reviews — all for free.

 For example, consumers can view popular comparisons, like the Toyota Camry vs. the Honda Accord, or the Honda Fit vs. the Ford Fiesta, and learn more about what they can expect in the cost of owning different vehicles, instilling increased confidence in their next vehicle purchase.

RepairPal surveyed over 1,000 Americans through an independent pollster in February 2018, learning more about consumers’ research processes when purchasing a new or used vehicle.

The study found that 86% of car buyers who compared vehicles of similar makes or classes before buying reported feeling satisfied with their purchase, compared to 80% of those who chose not to conduct comparisons. In the past, comparing vehicles could be a strenuous process for the consumer, requiring the collection and organization of data for multiple makes and models. With RepairPal’s car comparison feature, consumers only need to plug in the different makes and models to be given organized data for a more streamlined decision-making process.

In researching what vehicle to purchase, respondents said the price was the most important factor at 46%, followed by the reliability at 21%. When considering repairs for their vehicles, new-car buyers are more likely to visit a dealership, with quality of the repair and scheduling convenience as the most important factors. On the other hand, used-car buyers are more likely to visit local, independent repair shops, holding the quality and price of the repair as the most important factors.

New Cars You Must-Drive?

Narrowing your shopping list from over 300 models available to “the one” can be a daunting task, not to mention trying to make sense of the dramatic changes in in-car technology, available safety features and more. After spending a year testing nearly every model on the market in basically every driving condition, from off-roading to kid-hauling duty, the experts at Autotrader announce the 2018 Must Test Drive Award winners, featuring the top new cars worth taking for a spin before shoppers make their final purchase decision.

According to a recent survey conducted on behalf of Autotrader, nearly 70 percent of respondents said the test drive is very important when making the decision on which vehicle to purchase. Among adults who have taken a test drive, nearly 3-in-4 say they ended up buying the vehicle, with half of car shoppers purchasing the same day they test drove the vehicle.

With these factors in mind, the 2018 winners all have something special that separates them from the competition. The variety of award-winning models below are weighted equally and are unranked, as Autotrader’s experts understand the needs of each shopper are unique.

2018 Must Test Drive Award Winners

  • The Buick Regal TourX is a mid-size station wagon with all-wheel drive with a car-like driving experience.
  • The Chevy Colorado ZR2 is a true off-road machine, rugged and ready for almost anything you can throw at it.
  • The latest Honda Accord is simply the best-ever version of the popular mid-size sedan.
  • The latest Jeep Wrangler is an excellent SUV with a revised interior that’s dramatically more comfortable than the outgoing model’s cabin.
  • The 2018 Kia Stinger, a rear- or all-wheel drive turbocharged performance sedanwith 255 horsepower, excellent performance and a high-quality interior.
  • The Range Rover Velar is absolutely gorgeous .
  • The latest Lincoln Navigator is the best version yet of the full-size luxury SUV, and it may just be the best full-size luxury SUV available today.
  • The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe is one of the most elegant and graceful two-door models in the Mercedes-Benz range.
  • The latest Nissan Leaf is a big leap forward over the old model, and it now provides a smart value in its segment with an impressive range of 151 miles and a reasonable starting price of around $31,000.
  • The Subaru Crosstrek is a plucky compact crossover offers a car-like wagon with standard all-wheel drive and a little more ground clearance for when the going gets tough.
  • The 2018 Toyota Camryhas attitude and shows Toyota is taking risks an dis  also still the same reliable, roomy sedan that’s always been highly popular in the United States, and it’s priced reasonably to compete with rivals.
  • 2018 Volvo XC60 offers impressive interior and technology to a completely new segment, scaling down the same stunning cabin from the popular XC90.

Best Full-Size SUV has named the 2018 Ford Expedition the “Best Full-Size SUV of 2018” following extensive testing in the Full-Size SUV Challenge, which put four of the most popular vehicles in the segment against each other in a series of intensive head-to-head testing. This is the first time the publisher has tested the full-size SUV category, which included the following Challenge competitors: Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia.

“The Ford Expedition was our runaway Challenge winner with superior towing capabilities combined with incredible roominess and impressive technology. It was also plain fun to drive,” said Jennifer Newman, editor-in-chief. “The SUVs we tested are all quite large, so interior roominess is not often an issue, but the Expedition really blew our judges away with third-row room and easy access for full-sized adults.”

The full-size SUVs tested, resulted in the following ranking:

  1. Ford Expedition
  2. Nissan Armada
  3. Chevrolet Tahoe
  4. Toyota Sequoia

“With gas prices remaining low and consumers continuing to move away from sedans and flock to SUVs of all sizes, it was important that we broaden the range of vehicles we test,” said Newman. “In the past, we’ve focused much of our effort into testing smaller SUVs like compacts, three-rows and more. For this Challenge, we wanted to tackle SUVs that can tow and haul much heavier loads and handle off-road terrain while seating up to nine passengers.”

In addition to towing capability and comfort level in the first, second and third rows, each of the SUVs were judged on interior quality, visibility, noise, cargo storage, powertrain, braking, ride quality, multimedia and whether they are worth the money. The SUVs were tested on a total of 13 factors that also considered things like advanced safety features and individual grades in the Car Seat Check, which gauges the accommodation of various child-safety seats. All competitors were tested with a towing package equipped.

IHS Loyalty to Utility

Consumer loyalty to utility vehicles continues to grow at record levels, according to recent analysis by business information provider IHS Markit (Nasdaq: INFO). This trend is expected to continue, given the steady growth of utilities and pickups at the expense of sedans. According to IHS Markit forecasts, over the next three years, there will be five times as many new utility nameplates introduced to the U.S. market as new sedans.

The IHS Markit analysis of 17.1 million new vehicle registrations in 2017 proves loyalty to utility vehicles reached a record high 66.9 percent last year, up from 64.4 percent in 2016 and from 54.3 percent in 2012. Two of every three households with a utility vehicle in the garage that returned to market in 2017 acquired another utility vehicle. Utility loyalty is 14.6 percentage points higher than the industry average loyalty of 52.3 percent. In addition, pickup truck loyalty in 2017 has risen, measuring 50.6 percent, up 8.1 percentage points since 2012.

Conversely, sedan loyalty has fallen to 47.7 percent in 2017, down 8.5 percentage points since 2012, representing the furthest drop of all body types over the five-year period. In 2012, sedan loyalty led the industry with 56.2 percent loyalty.

Body Style Loyalty (%)
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

2017 –
2012 (PP)

Utility 54.3% 54.9% 58.2% 61.9% 64.4% 66.9% 12.6
ALL BODY STYLES 47.6% 48.1% 49% 50.5% 51.6% 52.3% 4.7
Pickup 42.5% 44.3% 45.1% 48.2% 49.6% 50.6% 8.1
Sedan 56.2% 56.1% 54.4% 52.3% 50.7% 47.7% -8.5
Van 29.3% 30.4% 30% 32.5% 34.3% 33% 3.7
Hatchback 27.2% 27.6% 26.3% 25.8% 25.2% 24.7% -2.5
Coupe 19.3% 19% 20.4% 22% 21.9% 20.7% 1.4
Convertible 18.3% 18.4% 17.9% 18.8% 18.8% 20.5% 2.2
Station Wagon 26.3% 23.5% 17.4% 13.2% 14.2% 18.7% -7.6

“Not only do utilities offer an attractive combination of benefits not available with sedans, but the broad range of utilities available, whether it be based on size, price or technology, now rivals the choice among sedans and continues to grow,” said Tom Libby, loyalty principal, IHS Markit.

Market Share Analysis: Utilities and Pickups Improve, Others Decline

From a market share perspective, the IHS Markit analysis found that utilities have gained record share versus sedans, with the body style growing 11 percentage points — from less than 32 percent in 2012 to 43 percent in 2017. In addition, five other vehicle body types are all losing share, including van, hatchback, coupe, convertible and station wagon.

U.S. Market Share by Body Style, 2012-2017

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

(PP change)

Utility 31.7% 32.8% 34.8% 37.8% 40.3% 43.0% 11.0
Sedan 37.8% 37.4% 36.0% 33.5% 30.8% 27.5% -10.1
Pickup 12.9% 13.4% 13.4% 14.1% 14.9% 15.9% 2.9
Van 5.3% 4.9% 4.9% 4.8% 5.3% 4.8% -0.4
Hatchback 6.2% 5.8% 5.5% 4.9% 4.2% 4.1% -2.0
Coupe 3.3% 2.9% 2.9% 2.7% 2.4% 2.2% -1.1
Station Wagon 1.4% 1.2% 1.0% 0.9% 0.8% 1.1% -0.3
Convertible 1.1% 1.0% 0.8% 0.8% 0.7% 0.7% -0.3

As households have moved to sport utilities and pickups at the expense of other categories, all car body styles have lost market share, and sedans are down more than 10 percentage points over the past five years. In addition, the combined share of the four lower-volume car body styles (hatchback, coupe, station wagon and convertible) has dropped more than three points to just 8.2 percent, which suggests that, combined, these four categories now account for less than one of every 10 new vehicles registered.

The analysis included those new vehicle transactions that took place between January 2012 and December 2017. The “Utility” body style as defined by the research includes SUV and CUV models collectively. Loyalty rates are based on the propensity of a household returning to market to acquire the same body style previously owned. In addition, the second vehicle may be an addition to the household fleet, not necessarily a replacement.

Edmunds Loyalty Trade-In & Buy Again

Automakers who leverage emotional design, offer a wide array of SUVs and have a solid history of reliability hold the keys to keeping customers brand-loyal, according to the new 2018 Trade-In Loyalty Report. The report leverages insights gleaned from more than 13.9 million vehicle transactions between 2007 to 2017 to explore what drives customer loyalty at both the segment and the brand level. Edmunds defined loyalty as the percentage of vehicles traded in to purchase a new vehicle that was the same segment, manufacturer, brand or model.

This in-depth report uncovers the reasons why consumers have made such a dramatic pivot away from passenger cars in favor of SUVs, and the significant impact that’s had on loyalty. It also identifies which companies are doing the best at keeping trade-in customers in the brand family, and what they’re doing right.

Key findings include:

  • Toyota, Subaru and Honda have the highest levels of customer loyalty in the mainstream segment. According to the report, the storied reputation Toyota and Honda have for quality and reliability have helped ensure that buyers who value vehicle longevity keep coming back to the brand. Even though this reputation was built on the backs of passenger cars, it has successfully bled over and boosted loyalty for their SUV offerings as well. Subaru owes its success primarily to offering the right products at the right time: thanks to making a quick pivot to a lineup bolstered by desirable SUVs, the brand has seen its loyalty leap from 45 percent in 2007 to 61 percent in 2017.
  • Lexus, Audi and Land Rover lead in luxury loyalty at a time when high-end buyers are more fickle than ever. While luxury loyalty has historically always been lower than for mainstream brands, Edmunds reports that it’s been dropping steadily for the last three years — and in 2017 hit 37 percent, the lowest since 2009. Similar to its twin brand on the mainstream side, Lexus earned the luxury loyalty crown by appealing to practical buyers who embrace the brand’s reputation for comfort and reliability. Audi came in second place by leveraging the opposite strategy and focusing on appealing to buyer emotions with distinct designs and a focus on performance. Similar to Subaru on the mainstream side, Land Rover’s SUV-heavy lineup is perfectly in line with current consumer tastes, and the brand doesn’t have the baggage of displaced former passenger car owners weighing them down.
  • The Great Recession was the driving force behind shoppers shifting so dramatically away from passenger cars to SUVs, and completely changed the loyalty landscape. In the years during and following the Great Recession, CAFE mandates, dramatic swings in fuel prices and the economic climate converged, forcing automakers to change how they approached the SUV segment. In 10 years SUVs went from a segment of boxy gas guzzlers to efficient car-like family haulers, forever transforming the automotive market. In 2017, SUVs dethroned trucks in buyer loyalty for the first time, and passenger vehicle loyalty hit a low not seen since 2009. Edmunds analysts predict that by the end of 2018, passenger car loyalty could drop so low that it would match the loyalty level for SUVs during the Cash for Clunkers period, a drop of 15 percent in just 10 years.

“We’re heading into one of the most transformative periods in the automotive industry, and instability in the short term could severely jeopardize automaker success further down the line,” said Caldwell. “Sales are cooling off from record highs, and the abundance of offerings on the market has created a new reality where nameplate loyalty no longer holds the same weight. It’s going to be a delicate balance for automakers as they face the immediate challenge of keeping customers in the fold while also anticipating the demands of the future.”

After Loyalty looked at Retained Value

Edmunds, the car shopping experts, today announced the 2018 Edmunds Best Retained Value Awards®, recognizing the new 2018 vehicles and brands with the highest projected residual values after five years. Toyota and Porsche took home brand-level honors in the standard and luxury categories, respectively, with Toyota also claiming five model-level awards and Porsche claiming three.


Toyota’s five model-level awards led all other automakers in the standard category. The winning Toyota vehicles are the 2018 Sequoia (Large SUV), the 2018 Tundra (Large Truck), the 2018 4Runner (Midsize SUV), the 2018 Tacoma (Midsize Truck), and the 2018 Sienna (Minivan). Honda came in second with three awards: the 2018 Honda Civic (Compact Car), the 2018 Honda CR-V (Compact SUV), and the 2018 Honda Accord (Midsize SUV). Other winners include the 2018 Dodge Charger (Large Car), the 2018 Subaru WRX (Sports Car), and the 2018 Nissan NV Cargo (Van).

Among luxury automakers, Porsche led the pack with three vehicles winning model-level awards including the 2018 Panamera (Luxury Large Car), the 2018 911 (Luxury Sports Car), and the 2018 Macan (Luxury Compact SUV). Lexus received the second most model-level awards in the luxury category, with both the 2018 ES 350 (Luxury Midsize Car) and the 2018 GX 460 (Luxury Midsize SUV) taking home awards. Additional luxury winners include the 2018 Audi A3 (Luxury Compact Car) and the 2018 Cadillac Escalade (Luxury Large SUV).

The 2018 Best Retained Value Awards are determined based on the qualifying new models that have the highest projected private-party residual value five years after their launch, expressed as a percentage of their initial True Market ValueTo be considered for a model-level award, a vehicle must be a 2018 model year, have launched before December 31, 2017 and account in January 2018 for at least 25 percent of the average sales for the models that fall in its award segment.

DEALER Rankings

Toyota and Honda deliver the best customer experience across auto dealers, according to the 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings, an annual customer experience benchmark of companies based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers.

Overall, the auto dealer industry averaged a 66% rating in the 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings and tied for 12th place out of 20 industries. The average rating of the industry declined by three percentage-points between 2017 and 2018, dropping from 68.6% to 65.6%.

The ratings of all auto dealers in the 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings are as follows:

  • Toyota: 73%
  • Honda: 72%
  • Ford: 70%
  • Mercedes-Benz: 70%
  • Chevrolet: 69%
  • Hyundai: 68%
  • Subaru: 67%
  • Buick: 67%
  • Nissan: 67%
  • Cadillac: 66%
  • Kia: 63%
  • Dodge: 63%
  • Jeep: 61%
  • Mazda: 58%
  • Audi: 56%
  • BMW: 53%
  • Chrysler: 53%
  • CarMax: 43%

Of all the industries we looked at this year, auto dealers saw the steepest drop in their industry average customer experience. This decline is the result of double-digit drops from a few auto dealers,” states Bruce Temkin, managing partner of Temkin Group

The 2018 Best Used Car Awards recipients are:

Compact Sedan
1. 2012-2018 Toyota Corolla
2. 2011-2015 Chevrolet Cruze
3. 2011-2015 Honda Civic

Midsize Sedan
1. 2012-2017 Toyota Camry
2. 2013-2018 Nissan Altima
3. 2011-2018 Dodge Charger

Full-Size Sedan
1. 2011-2018 Chrysler 300
2. 2014-2018 Chevrolet Impala
3. 2010-2016 Buick LaCrosse

Luxury Sedan
1. 2013-2018 BMW 3 Series
2. 2010-2018 Volvo S60
3. 2013-2018 Lexus ES 350

Sports Car
1. 2008-2018 Dodge Challenger
2. 2005-2014 Ford Mustang
3. 2014-2018 Chevrolet Corvette

Small Crossover/SUV
1. 2007-2017 Jeep Wrangler
2. 2012-2016 Honda CR-V
3. 2014-2018 Jeep Cherokee

Midsize Crossover
1. 2007-2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
2. 2011-2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee
3. 2010-2017 Chevrolet Equinox

Full-Size Crossover
1. 2011-2018 Ford Explorer
2. 2009-2017 Chevrolet Traverse
3. 2007-2016 GMC Acadia

Luxury Crossover
1. 2014-2018 INFINITI QX60
2. 2010-2015 Lexus RX 350
3. 2014-2016 Acura MDX

Full-Size Pickup Truck
1. 2009-2014 Ford F-150
2. 2011-2018 Ram 1500
3. 2014-2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Now that you’ve compared a lot of vehicles on their loyalty, reviews, ranking, resale value and awards, don’t you feel more satsified?