Ranked

U.S. News & World Report names Best Vehicle Brands for 2021

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

U.S. News & World Report has announced the winners of its Best Vehicle Brand awards. To get the winners, the company evaluated 34 brands that are sold in North America evaluating them based on the high quality of their vehicles. Four winners were chosen, one in each of the four categories: Best Car Brand, Best SUV Brand, Best Truck Brand, and Best Luxury Brand.

To determine which automaker reigns supreme, U.S. News averaged the overall score, as determined by the U.S. News Best Cars review team based on the consensus of the automotive press, safety scores, and reliability data, of every brand's products in each award class. The brand with the highest overall average score was named the winner in the category.

"Many buyers know the type of vehicle they want but not the best brands for their needs," says Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News Best Cars. "The Best Vehicle Brand awards point consumers to the brands that excel in producing the type of vehicle each buyer is interested in."

Best Car Brand: Mazda

2020 Mazda MX-5 RF

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

U.S. News & World Report: "Mazda wins the Best Car Brand award on the strength of the Mazda3, Mazda6 and Mazda MX-5 Miata. All three models have top-notch performance that puts an emphasis on direct, sporty handling, as well as quality interiors that are more upscale than their price tags might suggest. This is the sixth consecutive year Mazda has won this award."

Best SUV Brand: Hyundai

2022 Hyundai Tucson

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

U.S. News & World Report: "With a fresh, new lineup of SUVs in all sizes, Hyundai wins the Best SUV Brand award for the first time. The Hyundai SUV lineup ranges from the large and luxurious Hyundai Palisade to the midsize Santa Fe, compact Tucson and subcompact Venue. With so many updated models, Hyundai SUVs win points for offering buyers the latest in driver assistance and infotainment technology at an affordable price."

Best Truck Brand: Ram

2021 Ram TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

U.S. News & World Report: "Ram wins the Best Truck Brand award on the strength of the Ram 1500, which is one of the few trucks on the market to make a case for itself as both a work vehicle and a daily driver. The Ram 1500 features a coil-over suspension that makes the Ram comfortable enough for commuting but capable enough for serious towing and hauling. The Ram interior features a top-notch infotainment system with intuitive controls and a huge touch screen. The interiors of high-end Ram trims feature materials that keep pace with what luxury SUVs offer."

Best Luxury Brand: Porsche

2021 Porsche Panamera

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

U.S. News & World Report: "This is the sixth consecutive Best Luxury Brand win for Porsche. Though the brand is known for sports cars, Porsche offers a lineup of vehicles that effortlessly marry performance with upscale panache. Though almost any Porsche is at home on a racetrack, all models feature driver-focused interiors built with high-end materials and plenty of comfort."

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San Jose Hotel engineering manager Rocky Ontiveros, 60, wears a Texas mask on March 3, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new executive order that will end the statewide mask mandate and allow businesses to reopen at 100 percent capacity on March 10, 2021.

Photo by Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

Reporting by Automotive News indicates that despite Texas Governor Greg Abbott's executive order lifting the mask mandate statewide and allowing businesses to begin operating at 100-percent capacity again, automakers aren't changing their tune.

This executive order rescinds most of the Governor's earlier executive orders related to COVID-19. The original orders were put in place as a response to rising COVID-19 cases, and related hospitalizations and deaths, in 2020.

The new order removes state regulations and allows private businesses and individuals to decide on their mask wearing protocol and habits. There are currently mask mandates in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

There are fallbacks in place. A release from the Governor's office states, "If COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas get above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, a County Judge in that region may use COVID-19 mitigation strategies. However, County Judges may not impose jail time for not following COVID-19 orders nor may any penalties be imposed for failing to wear a face mask. If restrictions are imposed at a County level, those restrictions may not include reducing capacity to less than 50% for any type of entity."

Toyota

Toyota, which has a factory in San Antonio, Texas told a reporter with Automotive News that they are looking into the move but don't anticipate any immediate changes to their mask-wearing protocol. Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc. employs 2,542 people and makes the midsize Tacoma and full-size Tundra pickup trucks.

The automaker as has its North American headquarters in Plano, Texas, a northern suburb of Dallas. That facility employs around 4,400 people, most of whom have been working remotely for the better part of a year.

"The early read is – no change for us," said Scott Vazin, Group Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Toyota Motor North America, when approached for comment by Automotive News.

Toyota assembly plants traditionally offers tours of its facility to the general public. Due to COVID-19, plant tours have been suspended at all Toyota manufacturing facilities including those in San Antonio; Jackson, Tennessee; Blue Spring, Mississippi; and Troy, Missouri.

General Motors

General Motors (GM) has a big footprint in Texas. The company employs 8,133 people in the Lone Star State and works with 297 suppliers in the state across 13 facilities. Additionally, as of 2020, there are 588 GM dealership franchises in Texas.

The company's Arlington Assembly plant is home to every new full-size SUV in GM's product lineup sold globally: the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and the Cadillac Escalade. GM Financial is headquartered in Fort Worth and one of GM's IT Innovation Centers is located in Austin. Assembly plants get much of their power from wind energy harvested from Cactus Flats and Hidalgo wind farms.

There are GM Financial centers in San Antonio, Arlington, and Sugar Land; a customer service center in Austin; a parts distribution site in Fort Worth; GM Financial headquarters in Fort Worth; a commercial lending office and the South Central Regional Office are in Irving.

Patrick Morrissey, Director, Corporate News Relations at GM, told Automotive News, "We'll keep our COVID safety protocols in place to ensure we continue to protect our employees."

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There are more than 18,000 car dealerships in the U.S.

Photo by Maskot/Getty Images

Last year was a trying year of change at automotive dealerships nationwide. As COVID-19 shut down normal business operations, automakers and their dealerships were forced to quickly pivot to a new way of doing business - remote test drives, online shopping, and contactless service became the norm.

The list of 2021 Edmunds Five Star Dealers has been released, showcasing those auto dealers across the U.S. that were able to make the changes, roll with ever-changing regulations, and keep their customers happy.

To be a Five Star Dealer, a dealership must receive at least 30 reviews via Edmunds.com that average 4.5 stars or higher between January 1 and December 31, 2020. Five Star Premier Dealers earn their ratings by having 4.5 stars of higher for all 2020 sales reviews (minimum of 150).

Edmunds says that less than three percent of their dealer partners reach Five Star Status. This year, 109 dealerships earned that rank. Just 13 reached Premier status.

Nine Texas dealers were named Five Star Dealers. None earned the coveted Premier label. Of those nine, four are General Motors dealers and two sell Toyotas. Most are located in or near one of Texas's major metro areas, though there are a few outliers.

Here are the winners:

  • Baytown GMC Buick (Baytown)
  • Clark Knapp Honda (Pharr)
  • James Wood Chevrolet Buick GMC Decatur (Decatur)
  • Jeff Haas Mazda (Houston)
  • Moritz Kia Alliance (Fort Worth)
  • Nyle Maxwell GMC (Round Rock)
  • Pat Lobb's Toyota of McKinney (McKinney)
  • Tom Peacock Cadillac (Houston)
  • Vandergriff Toyota (Arlington)
In order to hold onto their status in 2022, those dealerships will need to meet the same criteria as they did for 2021.

Reputation.com recently monitored the online chit chat surrounding dealerships in the county. They ranked the Top 100 and by their calculations, five Texas dealerships made the list. No dealer made both the Reputation.com list and the Edmunds list.

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