New-Car Shoppers: What Attracts Them, What They Avoid

December 25, 2010/Steve Tackett


If you are in the market for a new car, then price is certainly going to be a major concern. But other issues, such as resale value of the vehicle down the line and perceptions of the brand you are considering, can also play an important role.
J. D. Power and Associates recently issued studies that look at why consumers avoid certain brands and why they remain loyal to brands. Kelley Blue Book has also just released its annual resale value awards of which 2011 model-year vehicles are best expected to maintain their value over time.
The 2010 “Avoider Study” from J. D. Power found that a bad prior experience with a brand or a poor perception of a manufacturer’s reputation is a more important reason for avoiding a brand than it was in 2009. In contrast, concerns about the future of certain domestic brands have lessened from last year because of their swift move through bankruptcy and the beginnings of a recovery in the automotive market.
Many domestic and Korean brands, including Ford, GMC, Hyundai, Kia and Ram, have been successful in improving customer perceptions of reliability in 2010. Others like Audi, Scion and Smart also improved.
The study finds that some redesigned models — the Cadillac SRX, Ford Taurus and Kia Sorento — have notably higher consideration rates than their predecessors.
Exterior styling is the most frequently mentioned reason for avoiding a model, which is cited by 35 percent of new-vehicle owners. For premium brands, concerns over maintenance costs also play a major role, despite an increasing number of premium brands that provide free scheduled maintenance for varying periods.
The J. D. Power’s Customer Retention Study looks at why owners remain loyal.

ford sedan

In the 2010 study, more people said a fun-to-drive vehicle is the reason they are staying loyal to a brand; fewer said they were loyal due to the resale value of their vehicle, although it varied by brand.
Ford and Honda tied for the highest rank among brands in retaining owners with retention rates of 62 percent. Ford’s retention rate is primarily because of the Edge, F-Series and Fusion models; Honda’s is driven by the Accord, CR-V and Pilot.
Comparing the two brands, Ford owners are more likely than Honda owners to say they are loyal because their new vehicle is fun to drive or has good styling. Honda owners are more likely to cite resale value and safety as reasons for repurchasing. Next in the rankings in a three-way tie are Hyundai, Lexus and Toyota with customer retention rates of 60 percent.
Now let’s talk money with Kelley Blue Book’s annual best Resale Value Awards, which look at how well 2011 models are expected to retain their original list price after five years. The winning mainstream brand for 2011 is Subaru; the winning luxury brand is BMW.
The winners by vehicle category with the best resale value are: Honda Fit (subcompact car); Mini Cooper (compact car); Honda Accord (midsize car); Ford Taurus (full-size car); Lexus IS (near-luxury car); Audi A5 (luxury car); Subaru Impreza WRX (sports car); Ford Mustang GT (high-performance car); Volkswagen Golf TDI (hybrid/alternative energy car); Honda CR-V (compact utility vehicle); Toyota FJ Cruiser (midsize utility vehicle); GMC Acadia (full-size utility vehicle; BMW X5 (luxury utility vehicle; BMW X5 XDrive 35d (hybrid/alternative energy utility vehicle; Toyota Tacoma (midsize pickup); Ford F-Series Super Duty (full-size pickup); Toyota Sienna (van); and Subaru Outback (wagon).
Free information about resale value is available on — Cheryl Jensen, Motor Matters

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010