Owners love their Macans, Prius not so much

Customer Love Index shows which vehicles are best loved by owners

Published: November 14, 2015, 10:00 PM
Updated: November 23, 2021, 2:42 PM

Porsche Macan S

There is an element of attraction behind every car purchase and, like any relationship, that develops into love over time. The latest study from Strategic Vision shows which vehicles in each segment are the most loved by their owners.

Strategic Vision is a California company of clinical psychologists and business professionals studying consumer buying decisions, and owner satisfaction and loyalty. Its Customer Love Index (CLI) metric shows which vehicles are doing the best job of creating love, in relation to their competition (according to 44,000 owners surveyed).

But aside from which vehicles performed best in their respective segments, the study also showed that Generation Y – the Millennials – love their cars. The average score from the age group was 470, whereas the rest of buyers gave an average score of 400. Unfortunately, because they’re the youngest generation of buyers, they also tend to get overwhelmed by their first “loves,” ranking their “crush” purchases (usually based solely on affordability) as high as more affluent buyers rank their higher-end purchases.

“As new younger buyers enter any market they essentially crush hard on their choices, believing that their first love will always be their only,” explains Christopher Chaney, Senior Vice President of Strategic Vision. “Of course, this isn't new to millennials. Every generation in their youth can remember their first love and the deep emotional impact it had on their lives, and future decisions in life.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, upscale and sporty vehicles topped the list of most loved vehicles, with the Porsche Macan outscoring all other vehicles to top the Luxury CUV segment with a score of 629. The next highest ranked segments were Premium Convertible/Roadster and Premium Coupe, each topped by the Chevrolet Corvette (with scores of 617 and 598, respectively), followed by Near-Luxury Car (Mercedes-Benz CLA) and Standard Convertible (Ford Mustang) tied at 564, and edging out the Luxury Car winning Mercedes S-Class (563).

At the other end of the scale, the CLI showed that hybrid owners are not particularly in love with their purchases. Of all the segments, the Mid-Size Alternative Powertrain (APT) Car was ranked lowest by their owners, with the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Prius tying for tops in the segment with a score of 354 each.

Strategic Vision concludes the reason is that hybrids have thrown all their eggs into the fuel economy basket, promoting their love and support for the planet and the owner’s bank account. Analysts predict hybrids have to help their owners generate love for their vehicles in order to stay viable in the future market.

“Most customers will not spend more than an additional $50 per month for a vehicle just for MPG or environmentally friendly powertrain,” reasons Alexander Edwards, President of Strategic Vision. “Instead, creating a product that customers can love will allow buyers to spend significantly more money because it has the right balance of styling, innovation, performance and environmental friendliness.”

He adds that those are the reasons Prius tops the segment, not because it was the first hybrid to come to market.

However, the Toyota Hybrids were still down considerably from the next lowest ranked segment – Minivans – topped by the Kia Sedona (with a score of 391). Small APT Car stepped on the next rung up the ladder with the Fiat 500e (408), and tied with the Small Multi-Function Car (Kia Soul) and Mid-Size Multi-Function Car (Subaru Outback).

The CLI also seems to hold true to stereotypes, with Asian automakers (10 winning models) doing well in the more economically minded segments, European automakers (9) topping the more luxury oriented segments, and North American automakers (10) performing well in pickups, utility vehicles and convertibles.

By manufacturer, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles were most loved in five segments each, followed by the BMW and Hyundai Groups (three each). Daimler, Ford, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota each registered two category wins, and Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda and Porsche scored a segment win each.

Other category winners were the Mini Cooper (Specialty Coupe, with a score of 547), Dodge Charger (Full-size Car, 543), Infiniti QX80 (Luxury SUV, 524), Range Rover Evoque (Near-Luxury Utility, 516), Jeep Renegade (Entry SUV, 490), GMC Yukon XL (Full-size Utility, 483), Nissan Titan (Full-Size Pickup, 482), BMW i3 (Near-Luxury APT car, 474), GMC Sierra HD (Heavy Duty Pickup, 467), BMW 3 Series GT (Luxury Multi-Function Car, 466), Dodge Durango (Mid-Size SUV, 465), Ford Flex (Mid-Size CUV, 460), Subaru WRX (Mid-Size Car, 451), Hyundai Tucson (Entry CUV, 451), Fiat 500 (Micro Car, 449), Mazda3 (Small Car, 438), and Chevrolet Colorado (Standard Pickup, 423).