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Subaru Drops Out Of First In The Latest J.D. Power Customer Loyalty Study

Results from the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Automotive Brand Loyalty Study have been released. See why Subaru drops out of first place.


Subaru drops to second place in brand loyalty while Toyota moves ahead in the latest J.D. Power rankings. Why did Subaru drop out of first place in customer loyalty? There are two reasons.

Last year, Subaru was the number one mainstream automaker in customer loyalty. This year in the 2022 J.D. Power Car Brand Loyalty Study, Subaru of America slips to second place. The report says it's likely due to Subaru's low vehicle inventory crunch and the microchip shortages leading to this year's plant closures.

2022 Subaru brand loyalty
photo credit: Suburban Subaru

"The issue of tight supply chain and lower-than-normal production could have been quite disruptive to loyalty, but the highest-ranking brands excelled by staying focused on keeping owners in the brand," said Tyson Jominy, vice president of data and analytics at J.D. Power.

Which car brands have the most loyal customers?

The study has been expanded this year to report on brand loyalty insights by segment categories: premium car, premium SUV; mass market car; mass market SUV; and truck. Toyota now ranks highest among mainstream (non-luxury) car brands with a 62.2 percent customer loyalty rate. Kia (54.1 percent) ranks second.

2022 Subaru brand loyalty

Subaru now ranks second with the recent new model shortages

Toyota ranks highest among mainstream SUV car brands with a 63.6 percent loyalty rate. Subaru now ranks second among mainstream SUV brands with a 62.6 percent loyalty rate. J.D. Power says its calculations are based on transaction data from September 2021 through August 2022 and include all model years traded in.

2022 Subaru brand loyalty
photo credit: Competition Subaru

The updated study uses data from the Power Information Network to calculate whether an owner purchased the same brand after trading an existing vehicle for a new one. Customer loyalty is based on the percentage of vehicle owners who choose the same brand when trading in or purchasing their next vehicle.

What drives brand loyalty?

J.D. Power says automakers that launch fresh products, have excellent processes focused on the vehicle owner, cars with high resale values, and offer vehicles with great overall appeal are the keys to keeping customers coming back.

What is Subaru doing to keep its customers loyal?

Most automakers are building SUVs with the things consumers want. They have cargo room, fuel efficiency, the latest technology, safety features, and convenience elements buyers want. Subaru is doing something different that separates them from the rest, but what is it?

"At Subaru, we strive to be more than a car company in everything we do; it's at the heart of what makes us Subaru, and we believe it's why our valued owners continue to choose Subaru," said Thomas J. Doll, President, and CEO, Subaru of America.

Subaru says they are more than a car company, but what does that mean?

Subaru keeps its competitive edge because they know its customers don't live for the workweek; they live for the weekends. It's not new; Subaru has been connected to its active customer base for decades.

Even though camping has exploded in popularity in the last six years, it's not a new focus for Subaru. An estimated 7 million people have started camping since 2014, with around a million new households purchasing a tent in 2018. Outdoor adventure, from mountain biking to hiking to kayaking, is also on the rise.

One look at Subaru's social media pages reveals how many customers use their Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek to get away.

Subaru connects with active customers by offering the 2022 Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek that can go farther off-pavement. Customers don't worry about getting stuck in the wild.

Subaru introduced X-Mode in 2014 on the Forester, which ramped up its off-road capability. It was the automaker's next evolution in offering models with a "go-anywhere" attitude.

Now Subaru ramps up its off-road capability even more with the rugged 2022 Outback Wilderness, Forester Wilderness, and soon-to-come Crosstrek Wilderness sub-brand models.

Subaru keeps pushing the boundaries with the refreshed 2022 Forester compact SUV, newly-remodeled 2023 Outback midsize SUV, and next-generation 2024 Crosstrek subcompact SUV. It's what the automaker does to keep its customers loyal.

Despite the new model shortages, Subaru increased its loyalty percentage from last year. In 2021, Subaru was the number one mainstream car brand, with a loyalty rate of 61.8 percent. In the 2022 study, Subaru has a 62.6 percent loyalty rate.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru