Can You Guess Which Car Was Rated the Brand of the Year? (Hint: It's Not Ford!)

GM Chart
GM Chart

GM data by YCharts . Dates of comparison: 1/1/2013-1/1/2015.

Of the many auto manufacturers that consumers have to choose from, only six brands performed reasonably well enough to rank above the industry norm. It's instructive to note those that fell below average, including GM's Buick brand, all three of Fiat Chrysler's brands, Hyundai, Kia, and Mazda, among others.

Which automakers ranked highly? Subaru came in sixth, Nissan was fifth, and as we noted earlier, Ford and Chevy came next in order, respectively.

Overcoming adversity

Honda Motors finished in the runner-up position. While this might seem to call into question the predictive quality of the survey's financial performance, as its stock has lost nearly a quarter of its value between 2013 and 2015, it also seems to prove the saying that the exception proves the rule. This year's full-line automotive brand of the year was Toyota , whose stock has outstripped the performance of all the other manufacturers, gaining more than 30% during the past two years.

Image source: 2015 Harris Poll EquiTrend.

This is surprising, not least because of the many recalls the automaker has been involved in, from the stuck gas pedal a few years ago, for which it paid a $1.2 billion fine for covering it up, to the faulty airbags made by industry supplier Takata that led it to recall 12 million cars globally. This is also one of the reasons Honda's stock is down so much -- it was affected by the recall much more severely than any other car manufacturer, as it apparently knew about the deadly defect for a decade.

A year-in, year-out reputation for quality and performance has helped the Toyota Camry to be one of the most popular cars on the market, and push the carmaker to the pinnacle of automotive brands. Image source: Toyota.

Despite Toyota taking hits to its reputation, in general, the public holds its vehicles in high regard, which explains why its Camry was the best-selling car in 2014. Through the first eight months of 2015, it's leading again.

Rev your engines

Motorheads can endlessly debate the finer points of which car is better, whether they rank it based on power, performance, or some other number appreciated by grease monkeys. But it may be that investors would be better served by looking at which auto manufacturer's brand consumers think is best. How they vote with their pocketbooks just may be an indicator of how the carmakers' stocks will perform.

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The article Can You Guess Which Car Was Rated the Brand of the Year? (Hint: It's Not Ford!) originally appeared on

Rich Duprey has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Ford and General Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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