31 car brands, ranked by how much people like buying cars at their dealerships

A new survey from J.D. Power shows what consumers value in a dealership, and what brands get it right.
A new survey from J.D. Power shows what consumers value in a dealership, and what brands get it right. –Scott Olson / Getty Images

It’s the little things that count, even when making a big car purchase.

For example, when dealerships use a tablet or a computer to keep track of buyer preferences during a sale, it can go a long way in improving customer satisfaction, according to a recent study by J.D. Power and Associates.

J.D. Power’s 2015 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index Study, which looks at how satisfied car-shopping customers are with their sales experience, had good news in general for dealerships.

Despite the emergence of new technologies and car-shopping models like Vroom and Beepi, salespeople who can listen to customer needs, ask relevant questions, and meet customer requests are still important to the car-buying process.

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Tablets were a part of that. When salespeople used a tablet during the sales process – to record a customer’s vehicle preferences, demonstrate vehicle features, or look up pricing information, for example – their businesses saw a higher rate of customer satisfaction than those without tablets.

The big winners

Satisfaction was measured on a 1,000-point scale, with an overall sales satisfaction rate of 688 in 2015. That’s up from 686 in 2014. The average sales satisfaction rate was 732 for luxury vehicles and 681 for mass market brands.

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Check out the vehicle brands with the most (and least) satisfying sales experiences:

In addition to J.D. Power’s Sales Satisfaction Index, Porsche was also among the winners on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best vehicle brands for 2015. U.S. News based its review on overall reviews from automotive press, safety, and reliability rankings. One Porsche vehicle, the Cayenne, was among the best new car models for 2015 according to Consumer Reports. The magazine puts vehicles through more than 50 assessment tests to determine its rankings.

In a statement, Chris Sutton, vice president of the automotive retail practice at J.D. Power, said the survey indicates that sales people who embrace newer technology in the sales process can get ahead of the game and deliver strong customer satisfaction performances, especially as more millennials begin to buy cars.

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“Dealers face challenges in properly servicing a high volume of new-vehicle buyers who are increasingly tech savvy,’’ said Sutton, who points out that retail vehicle sales in the U.S. in 2015 will likely reach 14.2 million units and expects the momentum to carry into 2016.

“Dealers that disregard it may risk being left behind in [three to five] years,’’ he said. “Customers are experiencing interesting uses of technology in many of their other retail transactions—and now expect this in auto.’’

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