J.D. Power Study: Truck Owners are Brand Loyal


Detroit News

According to a J.D. Power and Associates study, brand loyalty is evaporating, especially among younger car buyers. But that is not the case among buyers of trucks.

Get the details on truck buyers and where their loyalty falls.

According to a J.D. Power and Associates study, brand loyalty is evaporating, especially among younger buyers. In the car world, the few loyalists remaining are to be found among luxury buyers. Mercedes-Benz, for example, retains 59 percent of its buyers.

On the truck side of the business, however, the situation is quite different. Full-size pickup buyers are extraordinary loyal and stick to their chosen brands. This helps explain why Ford, whose F-150 series is America’s best selling vehicle, had the overall industry’s highest loyalty rate of 61 percent in 2012.

So with the boom in trucks helping to lead automakers toward a pre-recession level of sales this year, it’s worth looking at the way the pickup market is evolving. Test drives in the all-new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and the refreshed 2014 Toyota Tundra give insight into the state of the segment.

The Silverado (and its sister model, the GMC Sierra) have an advantage over their main rivals, Ford’s F-150 and the Ram, in being new designs. The GM pair have received some mild criticism for overly conservative designs, but they are being welcomed for their improvements in fuel economy, lighter weight, overall refinement and attention to comfort and convenience features.

It should be noted that Ford is working on its next generation F-150, due in a year’s time, and will likely reset the bar for fuel economy once again.

As for Toyota, the current generation model introduced in 2007 has just received an extensive series of improvements for 2014.

Like the Nissan Titan, the only other full-size pickup from a Japanese manufacturer, the Tundra, has struggled to compete with the long-established Detroit brands.

Though the Japanese trucks are competitive in many respects and are designed, engineered and built in the U.S., Toyota and Nissan have had a hard time converting those ultra-loyal buyers. In the case of the latest Tundra, the design changes make it look more truck-like (chiseled is how Toyota likes to describe it), while the upgrades to the interior improve its comfort and functionality significantly. Toyota’s Entune infotainment system, available on the Tundra, is one of the best in the business and will even read your incoming email, if you wish (lifestyle buyers take note).