Subaru ranked third overall in the Summer 2014 NADA Dealer Attitude Survey, behind Lexus and Toyota and ahead of Porsche and Ford.
Brands that disappointed saleswise -- Volvo, Smart, Mini and Volkswagen -- were the bottom four in the latest survey, which was obtained by Automotive News.
The National Automobile Dealers Association surveys dealers in winter and summer. The attitude survey is intended to be a confidential report card on dealer-factory relationships. NADA privately presents the survey results to automakers and dealers and does not release the study to the media.
The survey measures such areas as dealers' satisfaction with brand franchise policies, competitiveness of products, value of the franchise, satisfaction with management and whether they think the value of the franchise will increase in the next year.
The latest survey covered 31 brands, and Lexus and Toyota were often rated No. 1 and No. 2 with Subaru in the third spot.
Subaru dealers were most optimistic about the future of their franchise. Also in the top 10, in order of rank were Jeep, Lexus, Porsche, Toyota, Audi, Land Rover, Ram, Mercedes-Benz and Ford.
Subaru also got the top score from dealers on whether the value of the franchise would increase in the next 12 months.
In the area of dealer input consideration, Lexus and Toyota finished No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, followed by Subaru and Ford. Chevrolet, Mini, BMW and Volkswagen got the lowest ratings.
Lexus and Toyota were first and second in dealer relations, as well. Also in the top 10 by ranking were Subaru, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Audi and Porsche.
NADA asked dealers about brand policies overall -- including dealer input, whether policies support dealer customer service efforts and whether policies are fair. Lexus, Toyota, Subaru and Hyundai topped the list, in that order. Mini, Nissan, BMW and Volkswagen were the bottom four.
Manufacturers use the summer and winter attitude surveys as a barometer of their relationships with their dealers and frequently boast about their improved performance. For instance, BMW, which was ranked among the lowest in prior years, came in at 22 overall -- just one slot below Nissan. The brand has been working to mend fences with dealers for the past four years.