Honda and Mercedes led the way in a tally of brands ranked by new-vehicle buyers for quality and value, a study conducted by ALG found.
Honda topped the rankings of mainstream brands. It was followed by Toyota, Volkswagen, Subaru, GMC, Ford, Buick, Nissan, Mazda and Chevrolet, according to the study released Wednesday.
Among luxury brands, Mercedes-Benz placed first, ahead of Lexus, BMW, Porsche, Audi, Maserati, Infiniti and Acura.
Smart ranked at the bottom of the mainstream list, below Suzuki, Kia, Scion and Fiat. In the luxury rankings, Alfa Romeo got the lowest rating, below Tesla, Land Rover and Lincoln.
“When consumers buy a car, brand perception directly impacts how quickly the vehicle will depreciate,” ALG President Larry Dominique said in a statement. "When deciding on a car purchase, consumers need to consider more than just build quality -- they need to consider how the brand is perceived in the marketplace.”
ALG, the analytics division of TrueCar, forecasts future car and light-truck values that are closely watched by automakers.
The study is based on a survey of 30,000 recent car buyers by ALG in conjunction with Strategic Vision’s New Vehicle Experience Survey.
Respondents are asked to rate the quality of all brands. Ratings for a brand that a consumer purchased are removed as part of calculating the index, ALG said.
The report found that familiarity with brands is a major factor in how they are perceived in the market.
That helps explains why Alfa Romeo -- which has not been sold in the United States or Canada for years -- ranked lowest among luxury brands, ALG said.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is reintroducing the brand in the United States this year with plans to sell 150,000 vehicles annually by 2018.
Fiat Chrysler will need to establish greater awareness for Alfa Romeo before it can change the American consumer's perception of the brand, ALG said.
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