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AutoNation, Hendrick Automotive Group score top marks in Reputation report

Reputation Score is measured on a scale of 0 to 1,000 and analyzes the digital presence of locations across more than 70 industries.

The 2022 Automotive Reputation Report results are in, and Subaru and Lexus top the list for brands with the best reputations. Subaru came first for non-luxury brands, and Lexus was top of the list for luxury brands. Meanwhile, AutoNation came in number one in the Public Dealer Group category, and Hendrick Automotive Group got top honors for best privately owned dealership group.

And the winners are

Last year’s report had Nissan and its Infiniti brand taking top honors in both categories. This year’s winners, Subaru and Lexus, both ranked in second place last year. AutoNation held the third-place position last year before climbing to the top spot this year, while Hendrick ranked in first place two years in a row.

Florida-based AutoNation ranked first on Automotive News‘ list of the top 150 dealership groups in the U.S. this year. The company had retail sales totaling 262,403 new vehicles in 2021. Hendricks Automotive Group, based in Charlotte, N.C., came in at number six. The dealership group listed retail sales of 103,949 last year.

Marc Cannon, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Experience Officer at AutoNation

Marc Cannon, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Experience Officer at AutoNation, said, “We’re thrilled to be the number one-ranked dealer group for Reputation Score. This is a testament to the great work of our 22,000 Associates coast-to-coast.”

“Reputation score has been a critical benchmark in helping us understand the importance of our online review presence, Customer feedback, and satisfaction as AutoNation,” Cannon said.

Cannon noted that AutoNation considers the Reputation Score and the positivity of customer reviews to be one of the most important measuring sticks for the company.

“We take tremendous pride in how our dedicated Associates serve our Customers and represent our company values daily,” he said. “As we respond to shifting Customer needs, we continue to utilize our Reputation score to measure how our teams contribute to the overall Customer experience.”

The importance of digital reviews

The report is compiled by Reputation, a company that uses customer feedback to help businesses improve customer experience and satisfaction. Dave Mingle, Reputation’s Global Head of Customer Experience, said input is essential no matter where it comes from. 

And with the rise of digital platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and even TikTok, it has become even more critical. Many younger consumers take to the internet to share their experiences and opinions of brands, and their social media mentions are vitally important for businesses.

“Brands have to be listening there and participating in that in order to keep those customers engaged,” Mingle said.

Joe Fuca, Reputation’s CEO, said, “Dealer groups are continuing to face a rapidly changing industry, making it more important than ever to understand how customer interactions can enhance the sales process, from lead generation and revenue growth to customer loyalty and advocacy.”

How the rankings are decided

Reputation uses a scoring system based on customer reviews to compile the list and focuses on elements like positive sentiment, visibility, and engagement. The company analyzed over 33 brands and 20,000 public and private dealership groups by measuring around 5 million customer reviews.

The company’s Reputation Score is measured on a scale of 0 to 1,000 and analyzes the digital presence of locations across more than 70 industries. Dealer groups are weighted based on overall review sentiment, business listing accuracy, and indicators used to judge customers’ experiences and opinions on both digital and on-site interactions.

Customers say online reviews are more important than ever

Reputation also surveyed customers about their digital shopping habits and found that online reviews and first impressions gained through online platforms were important for most buyers.

  •  85% said online reviews are important
  • 65% said dealerships need at least a four-star rating to earn consideration
  • 43% used Google to decide where to buy a car
  • 40% want to schedule a test drive online
  • 61% want to browse inventory online

The survey also found that consumers are willing to travel for top-rated dealerships, with 70% of buyers saying they would drive up to 20 miles for the dealership of their choice.

Electric vehicle popularity increasing

The total number of reviews dropped by 3% over last year, which Reputation says is likely because fewer people purchased cars in 2022. However, reviews of electric vehicles are on the rise.

“I think that builds enthusiasm for the industry and for the new technology,” Mingle said. “Now, whether that turns into sales or not? I don’t know, but you first have to build awareness and excitement for demand to come.”

The top five ranking brands and dealer groups are listed below.

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