Tesla Model S is the most-loved car in America

November 15, 2016

How much do you love your new car? And just as importantly, what do you love about it? That's the kind of data that marketing firm Strategic Vision tries to gather for its Customer Love Index.

Strategic Vision polls thousands of Americans about their recently purchased cars. Over the past decade alone, the company has surveyed more than 2.2 million people, asking them to rate various parts of their cars -- from door handles to taillights to infotainment systems. The company's rating scale ranges from 1 ("can't stand it") to 7 ("couldn't love it more").

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The big winners on this year's Customer Love Index were BMW and Subaru, each of which had five most-loved vehicles in their segments. But although the two automakers fared similarly on surveys, their paths to the top were pretty different.

Subuaru's big win came via thoughtful advertising. As Strategic Vision explains, "Subaru has continued its steady ascent that started with their 'Love' ad campaign in 2008 and since then has lead [sic] to market share and sales figures that have more than tripled". Of course, no brand can survive on marketing alone, and Subaru's line of cars and crossovers deserve credit for keeping the love a-flowing. However, the ads made a strong impression with consumers.

BMW's success has come largely through its sleek, updated product line, especially the 3-Series sedan and X4 crossover. Though BMW's advertising hasn't been quite as memorable or consistent as Subaru's in recent years, it's a luxury brand, and that exclusivity inspires its own kind of love.

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Here are a few of the other takeaways from the Customer Love Index:

The Tesla Model S was far-and-away the most-loved vehicle overall. Part of that love stems from the sedan's all-electric powertrain, which inspires passion from early adopters of electric cars. But that's not the only reason it's so beloved--otherwise, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Nissan Leaf would've been close contenders. Tesla's success stems from the fact that it's created a zero-emission vehicle that's outrageously sexy and desirable.

Germans won for overall brand scores: Daimler's smart was the best-loved brand under $26,000, BMW's MINI was the best-loved mass-market brand, and Volkswagen's Porsche was the best-loved luxury brand. What's truly fascinating is that Volkswagen Group of America was the best-loved full-line company on the Index, despite the ongoing Dieselgate fiasco. Then again, Volkswagen Group includes the entire family of Volkswagen brands, including Audi which has managed to avoid much of the stigma from the emissions-cheating scandal.

Millennials love their cars: In fact, young people age 19 to 35 expressed more love for their rides than their grandparents, parents, and older siblings did. The younguns may not be buying cars as frequently as other groups, but when they do, they apparently fall head-over-heels.

You can see the full list of winners from this year's Customer Love Index here.

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