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Mercedes-Benz, Honda Are 2012 Brands Of The Year

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How do you measure a company's value? Sure, you can look at sales figures, earnings, and other bean-countery things, but there's something just as important that's much harder to measure -- namely, the company's brand.

When we talk about a "brand", we mean more than a logo, a color scheme, a design sensibility. A brand is what we could loosely call a company's image: how we view that company, how it makes us feel. Do we respect it? Fear it? Laugh at it? Does it inspire us with confidence? Or is it just a quick and easy alternative to more reliable options?

Companies like Harris Interactive have made names for themselves measuring the values of well-known brands. Harris has just released its EquiTrend Scorecard on the automotive sector, which should be of interest to fans of Mercedes-Benz and Honda -- though Toyota, Ford, and Chevrolet drivers have reason to cheer, too.

Measuring brand value

Harris' latest data comes from a survey carried out online between January 31 and February 20, 2012.  During that time, Harris fielded responses from 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...a brand."

In order for a brand to qualify for rankings, it had to be rated 1,000 times by respondents who were familiar with it. Otherwise, the comparisons wouldn't be entirely fair.

Luxury brands

Among luxury cars, Mercedes-Benz walked off with top honors for the second year in a row, with a total Harris brand score of 61.02. Runners-up came in a clump, led by BMW (58.71), Lexus (58.40), and Cadillac (58.39). Acura, Infiniti, and Audi also landed above the category average score of 54.78.

Not faring so well? Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Saab, and Volvo. Harris listed those in alphabetical order, though we have a feeling we know which one landed at the bottom of the pile.

Mass-market brands

When it comes to mass-market car brands -- or in Harris lingo, "Full Line Automakers" -- the race was much closer. Honda drove to the #1 spot, with a score of 62.55, but the competition was hot on its heels. When the votes had been tallied, Toyota (62.51), Ford (62.10), and Chevrolet (61.95) all landed within striking distance of the top.

Rounding out the top automakers were Nissan, Subaru, Hyundai, and Volkswagen, which all scored above the category average of 53.02. 

Below the line, we find Buick, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Kia, Mazda, MINI, Mitsubishi, and Suzuki. (Apparently, there weren't enough GMC, Jeep, Ram, or Scion owners in the survey to reach the 1,000-person threshold.)

Other winners

But Harris' poll didn't just include automakers; it also ranked aftermarket manufacturers, service companies, and more. Here are a few more EquiTrend Scorecard winners, in alphabetical order by category:

  • Top Automotive Service Center Brand: NAPA AutoCare
  • Top Car Audio Brand: Bose
  • Top GPS Navigation Brand: Garmin
  • Top Motor Oil Brand: Pennzoil
  • Top Motorcycle Brand: Yamaha
  • Top Online Auto Shopping Brand: KBB
  • Top Tire Brand: Michelin

Do these match up with your own assessments of the auto sector? Drop us a line, or leave a note in the comments below -- and be sure to check out the overview of brand rankings at the Harris Interactive website.

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Comments (7)
  1. Having owned Honda automobiles as far back as the 1973 Honda Civic and up to the 2004 Honda Accord I can safely say that Honda cars are not what they use to be. That is mostly due to Honda's lack of customer service and customer care even when one buys their extended warranty. Honda found a way to weasel out of fixing the transmission when it failed at 80k miles.
    American Honda refused to even go halfs with me to fix the tyranny! So I went to a local shop that specializes in transmissions that did it for less money and longer warranty than Honda. Needless to say no more Honda's for me, my son and a couple of other friends whom were considering buying a Honda.
    Profits before customers is not a way to run any car company.
     
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  2. Out of curiosity, did you change the transmission fluid prior to it failing or was it the original fluid?
     
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  3. If Honda is the top of the line, we ARE in trouble. Honda quality is very poor and their customer service is ever worse than poor.
    They have lost their way. Their competiors are making better autos than Honda ever did.
    Then they begin to treat their customers like trash and not helping them on Honda's quality problems.
    Honda got the big head after reading all the false reports from Consumer Reports (now that a book you can really trust and still recommending those unreliable VWs) and thought that consumers had to buy their autos.
    Then their sales DROP!...Were they shocked. They are coming up with all sorts of excuses except that they are not building quality autos and there terrible customer service. And their dealers are just Terrible
     
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  4. Honda is producing some of the best quality ever, based on my experience with two 2005 cars (Accord and TL). The weak spots are few and far between, such as a power door lock actuator on the TL and difficult to change cabin air filter on the TL. Overall, the experience is great and I have only needed to do wear/tear items like brake pads, batteries and wiper blades besides the usual engine and transmission oil changes. The dealer experience has been less than acceptable with the Acura in the case of one dealer - would think you were at a lawn-mower repair shop, not a premium brand auto retailer. As always, things could and should be better as time goes on. As for unreliable VWs, I have seen many examples of poor VW quality. Honda is better.
     
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  5. I have also owned many Honda cars, including a '77 and '79 Civic, '85 Prelude, '90 Prelude, '05 Accord and '05 Acura TL. The quality of power train has improved, but was already stellar, just evolutionary improvements over the Civic's 1237cc with carburetor and points/condenser ignition to fuel injection & electronic ignition (PGMFI) and VTEC. The automatics have gotten better, but my early Hondas had manuals. Body integrity and rust resistance is where they improved substantially. If the '70's Civics had galvanized body panels they would still all be on the road today. The two 2005 Hondas (Accord and TL) are top rate, as good or better in many respects than my '95 Prelude which sets the standard. Alas, minor annoyances spoil the experience
     
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  6. I've had several Hondas- two civic hatchbacks, two Preludes, two del sols, three accords, currently a 2009 Ridgeline, and oldest son drives a 2008 civic so I know from my experience Honda is a trustworthy brand. I like to wrench a little and found simple and effective engineering in what they build. I recommend the brand to others, will buy another and I agree with the results of the survey. BTW my Ridgeline has never been back to the shop for any repairs in 3 years-never.
     
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  7. My family (wife and I) have owned 6 Honda's since 1991 (6 Accords and 1 CR-V) and never have we had one bit or trouble with any of them. The CR-V is a 2003 with nearly 86,000 miles. I feel Honda has lost some ground yes when it comes to all thegadgets and gizmos in modern vehicles but I'd MUCH rather have a Honda than anything from Ford, GM or Chrysler anyday. THere is a reason why the Accord is a record holder on the CAr and Driver 10 best list, why KBB.com awarded Honda it's best retained value award and Honda's have excellent mechinal relibility and resale value. As for Matt's upset over his tranmisiion, sounds like the dealer is shady/crooked and not the vehicle that's to blame. Honda should look into the dealers business practices.
     
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