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Strategic Vision’s 2021 list of most loved vehicles in America

Consumers are returning to the new vehicle market despite the pandemic because they love the experience of driving them, according to study

San Diego—Why are customers returning to the new vehicle market and making purchases during a global pandemic when typical driving needs of the work commute and taking kids to school are significantly reduced?

“It is because many customers love their vehicles and the experience they have while driving them,” said Strategic Vision founder Dr. Darrel Edwards. And what are the most loved vehicles in America?

According to Edwards, “They are those models that deliver the best experience on the attributes that are personally important to the customer based on their personal priorities and values. Our most recent study includes models from the Kia Forte Sedan to the BMW 8-Series Convertible.”

The BMW 8-Series leads Strategic Vision’s 2021 Most Loved Vehicle Awards. Among leaders in other categories were the Mercedes G-Class and GLC, Ram 1500 and Dodge Charger, according to the results of Strategic Vision’s 2021 Customer Love Experience Index (CLEI) measure.

CLEI is a product-focused metric that reviews 114 different customer experiences with product attributes and features ranging from “Overall Exterior Styling” to “Mirroring of smartphone content on vehicle display.” The emotional experience with each attribute is measured on the Edwards Commitment Scale, which ranges from “I Love it” to “I Hate it” with “Satisfied” in the middle.

“We discovered that when you use the natural language of the customer to judge their experience, the predictive quality on future advocacy, loyalty and conquest is statistically different along each point of the scale. In fact, future loyalty of those who state they are Satisfied with their vehicle looks more like those who Hate their vehicle than those who Love it,” said Alexander Edwards, President of Strategic Vision. “Everyone should already know this, especially this week. I don’t believe anyone is giving a card to their Valentine that says, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day – I am Very Satisfied with my experience!’ Instead, they send cards that profess their love. At least, the wiser of us will.”

It is not enough to just be a brand with strong imagery or to be a luxury brand offering additional appointments and features. While these can certainly help, CLEI is based on two key items: A) whether the experience with the attribute generates Love for the customer, and B) how important the attribute is to the group of consumers (e.g., how well it predicts future loyalty, advocacy, and conquest). To be the Most Loved Vehicle in America, you have to provide the best customer experience where it counts, Edwards said.

In the 2021 results, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Chevrolet each lead two of the 13 categories because they delivered the customer experience where it mattered.

“The Chevrolet Trailblazer was a leader in its category because of the strong styling cues and technology on the vehicle that owners said that they Loved,” said Chris Chaney, senior vice president of Strategic Vision. “This is different than why the Mercedes GLC was the Most Loved by African Americans as its interior makes all the difference, which includes roominess for the driver, interior design, seat material quality and even availability of interior color choices.”

Another key finding in 2021 CLEI is that the BMW 3-Series and Nissan Rogue tied to be the Most Loved by younger new vehicle owners. While the 3-Series provided aspirational power and performance, the Rogue’s styling (inside and out) along with various technology packages allowed it to be at the top with BMW.

The Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van was the leader by a wide margin in the Van segment, which Minivan owners dominate. While this might initially surprise some, Minivan owners’ priorities today focus mostly on cargo capacity, storage, and seat comfort. Considering that almost half of all Minivan owners drive with only themselves and one other passenger, and one-quarter have the middle/rear seats either folded down or removed altogether, it is no wonder the Ford Transit is the Van leader, Chaney said, and customers also love the comfort of its seats.

The 2021 Most Loved Vehicles in America winners, with their CLEI scores are:

Cars $29,000 and Under Kia Forte Sedan 588
Cars $30,000 and Over BMW 8-Series Convertible 677
SUVs/CUVs $35,000 and Under Chevrolet Trailblazer 548
SUVs/CUVs $36,000 and Over Mercedes-Benz G-Class 662
Standard Pickups Chevrolet Colorado 509
Full Size Pickups Ram 1500 528
Heavy Duty Pickups GMC Sierra 2500/3500 541
Vans Ford Transit Cargo Van 510
Women Land Rover Discovery 677
Mass Market by African American Dodge Charger 697
Luxury by African American Mercedes-Benz GLC 652
Youth (29 and Under) BMW 3-Series Sedan /
Nissan Rogue
 661
Alternative Powertrain Lexus RX Hybrid 532

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