After spending a year out of the top spot, Lexus once again is the most-liked automaker by dealers who responded to the most recent National Automobile Dealers Association Dealer Attitude Survey.
The luxury brand finished ahead of its mainstream sibling, Toyota, in the winter 2018 survey, the results of which were released Monday. Lexus had been runner-up to Toyota in the previous two surveys, conducted in winter and summer of 2017. Prior to the 2017 surveys, Lexus spent several years atop the ranking.
After Lexus and Toyota, Subaru, Honda and Audi rounded out the top five. Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Kia, Ford and Jeep completed the top 10. NADA declined to provide the entire list, including which automakers finished at the bottom. The survey was conducted over a one-month period in January and February.
Twice a year, NADA confidentially surveys franchised dealerships about their auto manufacturing partners. Dealers are asked about topics such as their satisfaction with brand franchise policies, the automaker's field staff and franchise value, and those sentiments are measured.
Results were shared privately with automakers, NADA's Industry Relations Committee and brand dealer council members in meetings that wrapped up in June, said NADA spokesman Chuck Cyrill. The dealer association says results encourage manufacturers to talk with their dealers to improve business practices.
Though the top two finishers switched positions, the winter survey results were similar to the previous summer 2017 Dealer Attitude Survey. The same automakers finished in the top five and top 10.
The winter 2018 survey also measured "consideration of dealer input" — or how much a brand listens to and responds to dealer input — in areas that include product, product quality concerns and advertising programs. In that ranking, Lexus and Toyota also finished in the No. 1 and No. 2 positions, followed by Subaru, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Kia, Lincoln, Ford and Porsche.
NADA also tracked dealer response to the survey, finding that Mercedes-Benz dealers had the highest rate of response at 87 percent. That was followed by BMW at 83 percent, Kia at 81 percent, Toyota at 78 percent, Lexus at 76 percent, Audi at 75 percent, Porsche at 75 percent, Hyundai at 70 percent, Volvo at 70 percent and Ford at 67 percent.
Dealers are currently answering questions for the Summer 2018 Dealer Attitude Survey for a one-month period ending in August, Cyrill said. Results will be shared with automakers in meetings scheduled to end in late November. NADA expects to reveal results around that time, Cyrill said.