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A private Chicago-based company recently studied the customer service reviews of more than 7,000 car dealerships in 100 U.S. cities. The study revealed several of the “pushiest” brands. Inversely, the OEMs that seemed to encourage less pressure be put on customers surprised me. Let’s dive into the methodology and results.

The business, Tinting Chicago, swept over 40,000 low-to-mid-star Google reviews. It targeted keywords that would indicate “relentless, insistent, and hassling sales tactics.” There were 37 words on the list, including terms related to aggressive, intimidating, and pressuring attitudes toward folks looking to buy a new car.

Two of the pushiest car dealership brands have the same parent

Of the 20 brands flagged, Fiat, Kia, and Chrysler dealerships seemed to have the highest incidences of “pushy” interactions with customers.

Fiat and Chrysler are operated by Stellantis, a Dutch company with 14 automotive brands. Some of these brands, like Chrysler, had American roots: Dodge, Jeep, and Ram.

These days, Fiat and Chrysler aren’t known as bestselling brands in the U.S. market. For instance, Fiat attempted to launch its 500 as an EV until it stopped production a few weeks ago. In like manner, Chrysler isn’t far off, as the brand’s 2024 lineup includes only the Pacifica minivan and Voyager fleet van. Chrysler discontinued its single remaining sedan, the 300, last year.

We didn’t expect to see Kia

While not on the 2023 bestselling list, Kia has seen record U.S. sales in recent years, mostly via the Sportage SUV. 2023 was 13% better for Kia than 2022, and sales remain relatively strong in 2024.

Since the Sportage, K5 sedan, Carnival van, and Telluride SUV have seen success, we’d expect the dealership sales interactions to reflect customer sentiment for the products.

A dark colored Kia Sorento SUV photographed outside in very close view of the left front wheel, fender, and door
Kia Sorento | Kia

Luxury brands are absent from the 20 pushiest dealerships 

In another key point, the study highlighted that luxury brands were not flagged for aggressive sales tactics. Surprisingly, according to the study, “the more money you’re expected to spend, the less hassle from the sales rep.”

In any case, the results of the study were certainly a mixed bag. Here’s the full list of the 20 pushiest dealership brands:

  1. Fiat
  2. Kia
  3. Chrysler
  4. Hyundai
  5. Mazda
  6. Nissan
  7. GMC
  8. Dodge
  9. Honda
  10. Toyota
  11. Ford
  12. Mitsubishi
  13. Volkswagen
  14. Chevrolet
  15. Independent
  16. Subaru
  17. Buick
  18. Jeep
  19. Acura
  20. Volvo

Source: Tinting Chicago