icon-branding Events Icon Created with Sketch. Inventory Icon Created with Sketch. icon-mail-hovericon-mail Marketing Icon Created with Sketch. icon-operationsicon-phone-hovericon-phone Product Training Icon Created with Sketch. Sales Icon Created with Sketch. Service Icon Created with Sketch. icon-social-fb-hovericon-social-fbicon-social-google-hovericon-social-googleicon-social-linkedin-hovericon-social-linkedinicon-social-rss-hovericon-social-rss icon-social-twitter Created with Sketch. icon-social-twitter-hovericon-social-twittericon-social-youtube-hovericon-social-youtube

Commentary & Voices

Q3 2021 Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch Non-Luxury Report: Hyundai Cracks the List of Top 5 Most Considered Brands


Facebook Share Twitter Tweet Linkedin Share Email Email

Article Highlights

  1. Hyundai has the biggest gain in shopping consideration, thanks to Santa Cruz and Elantra.
  2. Dodge ranks tops for Driving Performance, led by high ratings for Charger and Challenger.
  3. Honda regains momentum in factors important to consumers.

Hyundai cracked the list of Top 5 Most Considered Brands in the third quarter, according to the Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch report for non-luxury brands. It was the first time since 2012 that Hyundai ranked that high.

The Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch™ report is a consumer perception survey that also weaves in consumer shopping behavior to determine how a brand or model stacks up with its segment competitors on a dozen factors key to a consumer’s buying decision. Kelley Blue Book produces a separate Brand Watch report for non-luxury and luxury brands each quarter.

The third quarter continued to be plagued by the global computer chip shortage, which forced production cuts and severe vehicle inventory shortages. During the quarter, the supply of unsold new vehicles fell below 1 million units, a level not seen since the mid-1980s.

Toyota and Honda, which had fared better than most in the early part of the chip crisis, got socked in the quarter. Toyota announced global production cuts of 40% from its September and October schedules. The brand had the lowest inventories, along with its luxury sister brand, Lexus, throughout the quarter. On the domestic side, Ford, which got hurt early by the chip shortage, seemed to be recovering by the end of the quarter, while GM took nearly 200,000 units out of its production plan.

Hyundai fared better than most in the quarter with improved inventories. The brand gained three percentage points in shopping consideration – the biggest hike of any make – pushing it to No. 5 in the rankings, displacing Subaru. It marked Hyundai’s highest ranking since 2012, according to the KBB Brand Watch report. Put another way, 15% of all non-luxury shoppers considered a Hyundai, up from 12% in the second quarter. Hyundai’s lift was due to the newly launched Santa Cruz, a small truck-like activity vehicle, and its Elantra compact car.

Still, Toyota reigned supreme as the most considered non-luxury brand, a three-year winning streak. A third of all non-luxury shoppers considered a Toyota in the quarter, the same level as the second quarter. The midsize Tacoma truck had a 10% increase in shopping consideration. The compact RAV4 SUV had a 5% gain. Both were in extremely short supply as was the Camry sedan, which slipped in shopping consideration.


Chevrolet suffered the largest decline in shopping consideration in the quarter, down three percentage points. Of non-luxury shoppers, 24% considered a Chevrolet, down from 27%. Shopping for the full-size Silverado pickup truck fell by 16%. Shopping for the full-size Tahoe SUV also slipped. Both vehicles were in short supply.

Subaru, which had fallen in the second quarter, regained some ground on the strength of Forester, gaining a percentage point of consideration as did GMC and Nissan. Mazda slipped by a percentage point. The rest of the brands held steady.

SUVs Rule with Shoppers

Automakers have adopted a production strategy of prioritizing chip allocations for high-volume, high-demand, high-profit segments like SUVs and pickup trucks versus traditional cars.

Turns out that was a smart move as SUV shopping consideration climbed. Of all non-luxury shoppers, 66% considered an SUV in the third quarter, up after a dip in the previous quarter and nearing its all-time high of 67%.


The five top-shopped utilities were from Asian brands. They were, in order: Honda CR-V; Toyota RAV4; Subaru Forester and Outback; and Kia Telluride, which broke into the No. 5 spot for the first time and nudged out the Ford Explorer.

Similarly, truck shopping rebounded in the third quarter with 32% of non-luxury shoppers considering a pickup, up a percentage point from the second quarter and the year-ago third quarter.

The Ford F-150 still was the most-shopped truck, despite its 20% decline in shopping consideration. Chevrolet Silverado, down 16% in shopping, held its No. 2 spot. The Toyota Tacoma, gaining 10% in shopping, ranked No. 3, followed by the Ford F-Series Super Duty models, down 9% in shopping consideration. The Ram 1500 broke into the Top Five.

The category will become increasingly interesting with new models, including the smaller Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick, as well as the electric version of the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Hummer EV arriving in the coming months and next year.

Shopping for traditional cars slipped a bit, down to 32% of all non-luxury shoppers. The Top Five list included the usual suspects of Honda Accord and Civic, at No. 1 and No. 2, and the Toyota Camry and Corolla at No. 3 and No. 5. Inventories for all four models have been skimpy. The Chevrolet Corvette sports car worked its way into the No. 4 spot despite low inventory.

Minivans, which as a category had the lowest inventory of any segment throughout the quarter, had shopping consideration slip to 4% of all non-luxury shoppers. The Toyota Sienna, a new hybrid-only model, was No. 1 in shopping consideration. It has been a hot seller but low in supply. The Honda Odyssey ranked No. 2. The Chrysler Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid ranked No. 3 and No. 5. The Stellantis plant that makes minivans in Canada has been down for many months of this year due to the chip shortage. Breaking into the Top 5 of minivans was the new Kia Carnival, which has been a hot seller even with among the lowest supplies in the industry.

Among the Top 10 most-shopped vehicles, SUVs, led by compact SUVs, dominated. Subaru returned to the Top 10 list with two models – the Forester at No. 5 and Outback at No. 6. Honda CR-V was No. 2 and Toyota RAV4 was No. 4. The Kia Telluride broke into the Top 10 list for the first time.

Top 10 Models Considered

Pickup trucks took four spots. Two Ford models ranked in the Top 10 with F-150 at No. 1 and F-Series Super Duty at No. 8. Chevrolet Silverado was No. 3, and Toyota Tacoma was No. 7.

Only one car – the Honda Accord – made the Top 10 most-shopped non-luxury vehicles.

Factors Important to Consumers

Dodge has winnowed its product line to only three models, focused strictly on performance. The focus paid off as Dodge ranked tops in Driving Performance on the strength of high ratings for the Charger and Challenger muscle cars. It was the first time Dodge ranked first in the factor.

Dodge took the No. 2 spot in Exterior Styling, surpassed only by its sister brand, Ram. Mazda was third. GMC was knocked out of the top three for styling. In the second quarter, GMC was No. 2 for exterior styling; in the third quarter, it was No. 7.

Ram swept the top spots in four categories again – Exterior Styling as well Driving Comfort, Interior Layout and Ruggedness.

Honda regained strength after a three-year slump, likely impacted by safety advancements made with Honda Sensing Features and Honda Quality Cycle, which was implemented to continuously enhance quality at every stage of product development. Honda placed as the top brand in four categories: Durability/Reliability, Reputation, Fuel Efficiency, and Technology. It took second in Safety, Driving Comfort and Affordability and third in Interior Layout.

Subaru placed or showed in nine spots and was first in Safety again. Mazda nabbed two No. 1 spots – for Affordability and Prestige/Sophistication. Volkswagen broke into the factors rankings at No. 2 behind Mazda for Prestige/Sophistication.


Sign up here to receive bi-weekly updates on news and trends dominating the automotive industry.