Tesla Model S Declared the Most-Loved Car in America—Again

Tesla developed a winning formula with its electric sedan. But can other manufactures copy it…and can Tesla repeat it?

byLiane Yvkoff|
Electric Vehicles photo

For the second time in three years, the Tesla Model S has been voted the "Most Loved Model" in the United States.. The electric sedan earned a Consumer Love Index (CLI) of 652 out of a possible 1000, which easily put it in first place; the Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan earned the next-highest index, with a score of 583.

In case you've never heard of this award before, the CLI was created by brand consulting firm Strategic Vision, and measures the amount of love buyers experience with their new cars and trucks. The San Diego, California-based agency surveyed owners of vehicles available on the market between October 2015 and July 2016, and compiled data from more than 120 different aspects of the ownership experience, ranging from interior door handles to taillight design to performance. Owners grade each factor on a scale from “7—I Love It” to “1—I Hate It”.

The Model S coming out on top isn't a huge surprise. Owners of the electric luxury sedan are famously fanatical about their car and the brand. It's this passion that helped it capture this designation in the index's inaugural award in 2014; Tesla would have repeated its success the following year, but due to sampling reasons, Strategic Visions couldn't include it in the 2015 CLI. So the brand went out of its way to ensure enough owners were surveyed to keep it in the running for 2016.

Why is the Model S so popular even in its fourth year in the market? Compared to other luxury models, Model S owners are happier with their vehicle's acceleration from stop, technical innovations, and electronic displays, explains Alexander Edwards, President of Strategic Vision.

"It's a performance car first, and an environmentally-friendly electric vehicle second," says Edwards, and that's what sets it apart from other EVs and alternative powertrain vehicles on the market.


But the question remains as to whether Tesla can maintain its leaderboard status as other brands follow it into the luxury EV realm.

"With difficulties in roominess and interior appointments and ingress, there are enough problems that may make customers say, 'This was great, but I was to see what else is out there,'" says Edwards.

Even Tesla may not be able to repeat such a runaway success, as seen by less sanguine ratings from Model X owners. Customers still love the perceived environmental friendliness of the electric SUV, its integration of technology, and its acceleration, but the vehicle has a lot of shortcomings—such as door malfunctions and interior workmanship—that give people pause in an expensive luxury vehicle.

It's not just bleeding edge luxury vehicles that have the potential to steal its owners hearts, however. The enthusiasm of Tesla owners isn't much of a surprise—but the love millennials have for their vehicles is.

Media, analysts, and start-up executives have been predicting a steep drop in vehicle adoption in favor of ride-sharing options such as Uber and Lyft. But Strategic Visions' data shows that Gen Y happens to love the vehicles they purchase—regardless of whether it is a premium or economy model—and give them higher ratings than other groups. The reason is simple: Nothing beats the emotional benefits of owning your car.

"Vehicles today are not just satisfying their needs to go places and stay connected with others. They are providing means for younger people to become ideal versions of themselves as they come to rely upon, have freedom in, feel good about, and ultimately love all the things that their new vehicle does for them.” says Edwards. “There is no easier way to become Batman than to be behind the wheel of your own, personal Batmobile.”

The CLI's top five luxury vehicles overall were: the Tesla Model S (652), the Mercedes C-Class sedan (583), the BMW 3 Series (581), the BMW X1 (560), and the BMW X5 (552).

As for economy models, the top five were: the Nissan Juke (542), the Volkswagen Golf GTI (532), the Subaru XV Crosstrek (516), the Subaru Legacy (510), and the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (506).