This Is the Most Popular Car Brand of 2021, According to Consumers

Buying a new car can be both an exciting and stressful endeavor. From learning about all the different vehicles available on the market to negotiating with fast-talking salespeople, the decision-making process about what car is best for you takes more than a little bit of time, attention, and effort. And to help you navigate that process and make an informed decision that you hopefully won’t regret, Best Life consulted a recent J.D. Power study to find the most popular car brand of 2021.

The J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study is based on responses from 110,827 owners of new 2021 model-year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The survey took place from Feb. through July 2021 and researchers asked owners to consider 37 attributes, which ranged from “the sense of comfort they feel when climbing into the driver’s seat to the exhilaration they get when they step on the accelerator.” Based on the responses, each car brand was given an overall APEAL index score measured on a 1,000-point scale. For this ranking we used the 18 mass market automotive brands tracked in the study. Now, without further ado, read on to discover the most popular car company of 2021.

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18

Chrysler

Chrysler dealershipChrysler dealership
FotograFFF / Shutterstock.com

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 826

It has been a tough several years for Chrysler. In addition to receiving the lowest brand index score of all the companies rated by J.D. Power, the struggling brand also received the lowest rating on the American Costumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Automobile Study for 2020-2021.

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17

Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi vehicles at dealershipMitsubishi vehicles at dealership
MDart10 / Shutterstock.com

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 827

While its overall brand index score is on the lower end of the list, Mitsubishi’s new 2022 Outlander Sport and Eclipse Cross models have received high marks in the 2021 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study.

16

Buick

Buick dealershipBuick dealership
Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 829

Buick is a car company that has had some trouble keeping up with the times over the years, but while its J.D. Power brand index score is the third lowest on this list, the company’s ACSI score improved one point from last year. Plus, its 2021 Buick Enclave was recently rated the second-best luxury large SUV by Consumer Reports.

15

Jeep

an orange Jeep Compass car drivingan orange Jeep Compass car driving
Jan Klimen / Shutterstock

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 830

In addition to its overall brand index score of 830, Jeep’s Gladiator model received the second-highest rating in the midsize pickup category on the J.D. Power study.

14

Volkswagen

Volkswagen Cars and SUV DealershipVolkswagen Cars and SUV Dealership
jetcityimage / iStock

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 834

Volkswagen may not be the highest-rated brand on this list, but the company is in the middle of a major shift that promises to bring big changes in the coming years. According to CNN Business, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess “wants electric cars to make up half of the Volkswagen Group’s sales in 2030, and 100 percent of its sales in major markets should be zero-emission by 2040.”

“There’s a lot of business potential and it’s still a long way to go,” Diess told CNN Business in reference to autonomous vehicles, another priority market the brand is pursuing. “Our first fleets probably will come to market in 2025, and the first private cars driving autonomously also in 2025 or 2026.”

13

Subaru

A silver Subaru AscentA silver Subaru Ascent
Steve Lagreca / Shutterstock

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 835

Subaru has earned a reputation for building dependable, safe, and affordable vehicles, and that’s exactly what consumers like about the brand.

“Great car for the value,” one satisfied Subaru owner wrote on ConsumerAffairs. “[I] feel safe every time I get behind the wheel, especially when it comes to bad weather. Snow, sleet, [and] driving rains can’t keep me off the roads. [I] would recommend it to everyone.”

12

Toyota

Toyota SiennaToyota Sienna
Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 838

In addition to making long-lasting sedans like the Camry and Corolla, Toyota also makes top-of-the-line minivans. The brand’s Sienna received the highest ranking in the minivan segment of the J.D. Power study.

11

Honda

Honda dealershipHonda dealership
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 839

When you think of Honda, the company’s popular sedan models like the Civic and Accord likely come to mind, but the company’s Ridgeline model was the highest ranking midsize pickup of 2021, according to the J.D. Power study.

10

Chevrolet

A Chevrolet dealership in Warren, Michigan. Founded in 1911, Chevrolet is a subsidiary of General Motors and manufactures a variety of cars and trucks.A Chevrolet dealership in Warren, Michigan. Founded in 1911, Chevrolet is a subsidiary of General Motors and manufactures a variety of cars and trucks.
iStock

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 845

Chevrolet had a really strong year in terms of its new models—the company took home the highest honors in three categories of J.D. Power study: premium sporty car (Corvette), midsize SUV (Blazer), and large SUV (Tahoe).

9

Mini

MINI dealership in New JerseyMINI dealership in New Jersey
Alan Budman / Shutterstock.com

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 847

Known for its compact Çooper model, Mini found itself tied with two other brands when it came to its overall brand index score from the J.D. Power study. And while the automaker didn’t take the top spot in any particular category, the 2021 Mini Countryman finished second behind the Ford Bronco Sport in the small SUV category.

8

Mazda

Mazda dealership in Las VegasMazda dealership in Las Vegas
RYO Alexandre / Shutterstock.com

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 847

Mazda may not have won any specific awards in the J.D. Power study, but the brand received a solid index score that found it tied with Mini and one more popular car maker. And plenty of consumers have good things to say about the company’s vehicles.

“My Mazda gets great gas mileage, which is one of the main reasons I purchased it over other small SUV/CUV models,” a verified reviewer wrote on ConsumerAffairs. “It also has a stylish design that I like. The next time I purchase a new car I would seriously consider getting another Mazda SUV.”

7

Hyundai

Indianapolis - Circa March 2018: Hyundai Motor Company Dealership. Hyundai is a South Korean Multinational Automotive Manufacturer IIndianapolis - Circa March 2018: Hyundai Motor Company Dealership. Hyundai is a South Korean Multinational Automotive Manufacturer I
iStock

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 847

Hyundai, the third of three brands that received an index score of 847, had vehicles that ranked near the top in several categories of the J.D. Power study. The Hyundai Accent was the second-highest rated small car, the Hyundai Elantra was the second-highest rated compact car, the Hyundai Sonata was the second-highest rated midsize car, the Hyundai Santa Fe was the third-highest rated midsize SUV, and the Hyundai Palisade was the third-highest rated upper midsize SUV.

6

Kia

Kia dealershipKia dealership
Shutterstock

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 856

Kia, which is part of the Hyundai Motor Group, also received some notable accolades in the 2021 J.D. Power study. The brand’s K5 model was the highest rated midsize car and the Kia Telluride was the highest rated midsize SUV of 2021.

5

Ford

Ford dealership in IndianapolisFord dealership in Indianapolis
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 858

In addition to having the fifth highest J.D. Power brand index score on this list, Ford also received an ACSI score of 78 in 2021, which is two points higher than its score the year prior. In the J.D. Power study, the Ford Bronco Sport and the Ford Mustang Mach-E received the highest ratings in the small SUV and compact SUV categories, respectively.

4

GMC

A white GMC Sierra TrukA white GMC Sierra Truk
Sergey Akhrameev/Shutterstock

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 861

GMC, a General Motors brand, is known for its large SUVs and trucks, which continues to be true in 2021. The brand’s Sierra HD was the highest ranked large heavy duty pickup truck of 2021, according to the J.D. Power study.

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3

Nissan

nissan brand company logo on a car, original brand namesnissan brand company logo on a car, original brand names
Shutterstock

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 866

Nissan was the study’s biggest gainer in terms of its overall brand index score, improving its 2020 score by 22 points to earn an 866 in 2021. The automaker also received the award for the top overall model in the J.D. Power study for its 2021 Nissan Altima.

2

Ram

Dodge RamDodge Ram
Mike Mareen / Shutterstock.com

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 881

Ram, which is owned by Stellantis, is a truck brand that was spun off from Dodge in 2009. In addition to the Ram 1500 being the highest ranked large light duty pickup in the J.D. Power study, the 2021 Ram 2500/3500 was the second-highest rated truck among the large heavy duty pickup trucks.

1

Dodge

Dodge dealershipDodge dealership
CineCam / Shutterstock.com

J.D. Power 2021 brand index score (out of 1,000): 882

The fact that Ram split off from Dodge didn’t stop the latter brand from being the highest scoring car company on the 2021 J.D. Power study. With an overall brand index score of 882, Dodge beat out Ram by just one point in the 2021 rankings. In terms of how the brand’s specific vehicles fared, the Dodge Charger and the Dodge Durango were the second-highest rated vehicles in the large car and upper midsize SUV categories, respectively.

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