The Toyota Motor Company is one of the largest automakers in the world, rivaling the likes of General Motors, Ford, and Volkswagen in terms of market presence and global sales. In 2016, it's safe to say that the manufacturer lived up to its "Let's Go Places" slogan after securing a number of highly coveted distinctions, not the least of which was Auto Brand of the Year.
For the second time in as many years, Toyota was named Top Full Line Auto Brand by The Harris Poll, one of the more prestigious survey organizations in the world.
Toyota finished ahead of Honda and 'Big Three'
Over the past 28 years, Harris has been bestowing brand awards to organizations in a variety of industries, including automotive, entertainment, retail, travel, and restaurants, among others. Last year, Toyota accumulated the highest amount of points in Harris' EquiTrend Brand Equity Index, and the votes this time around – all from everyday consumers – were enough to put the Japanese automaker over the top once again, outdoing the likes of Honda, Ford, GMC, and Chevrolet.
This is the third time since 2011 that Toyota has been named Full Line Auto Brand of the Year.
Joan Sinopoli, vice president of brand solutions for ratings and global information firm Nielsen Holdings, which owns Harris, said that where Toyota really shows its mettle is in the luxury category.
"[S]ome brands, like Lexus, are delivering exceptional customer experiences with a reputation for dependability, while parent brand Toyota, maintains its focus on dependability at a fair price," Sinopoli explained. "Thus Toyota brands, while always high performing, this year are set somewhat apart from the rest."
She added that Toyota is proving to be something of a trend-setter, as automotive brand equity – which is measured based on brand familiarity, quality, and purchase consideration among consumers – tends to be somewhat muted compared to other sectors like retail and food services.
Falling just short of Lexus' brand excellence were Porsche, which finished second, followed by Acura, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW rounding out the top five.
KBB awarded Lexus in March
Even shortly after 2016 began, the stars seemed to be aligning for Toyota's luxury automobile. Vehicle valuation firm Kelley Blue Book bestowed Lexus with its Best Overall Luxury Brand title, saying at the time that the nameplate had "built its reputation on offering supreme luxury combined with incredible reliability – a combination that puts its brand at the top of all luxury [models]."
Toyota as a company closed out the summer on a strong note, having sold 213,125 units in the U.S. alone, down slightly from the same period last year but posting its best month in company history among Lexus-brand sport-utility vehicles, or what company insiders refer to as "luxury utility vehicles."
"Lexus LUV sales reached new heights in August with a record NX sales month, helping lead our brand to its best-ever year-to-date sales performance for our LUV lineup," said Jeff Bracken, Lexus Division Vice President and General Manager. "With improving supply on our LUV's for the remainder of the year, we are looking for a strong close to 2016."
If 2016 thus far is any indication of what's to come, Toyota looks to have a forceful finish.