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What is the Most Popular Foreign Car in Each State?

Everyone seems to have a strong opinion about which automaker puts out the best vehicle. Where I grew up, you had to profess your allegiance to Ford or Chevy at an early age and remain loyal throughout your life. Needless to say, brand loyalty and tribalism are a real part of our culture and always will be.

For our latest research piece, we wanted to continue the debate but with a slightly different angle. To that end, the Obrella research team took a look at the popularity* of foreign automakers in the United States, omitting domestic brands altogether. From hundreds of foreign automakers, we selected the 15 most popular and dug deeper into the data from there.

Automaker Popularity Distribution by State

The below graph shows how many Facebook “likes” automakers have in each state, divided by 1000. Each row uses color scales to show the least and most amount of “likes” in each state.
Car Import Popularity Distribution by State

Noteworthy Observations

  • Although BMW has the edge all along the west coast, Mercedes closely rivals the fellow German automaker across the southwest.
  • Toyota has an apparent stronghold in the southeast, from Florida up to West Virginia.
  • Suburu makes a surprise showing in Montana and Maine, also putting up strong numbers in Mountainous states like Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
  • Honda’s strength lies predominantly flat terrain states, commonly battling Toyota for key territories.
  • Tennessee is the only state where BMW and Honda come out even.
  • Idaho stands out in the west as the only win for Toyota.
  • Lexus has a weak showing, but makes its mark in Washington DC with a strong 2nd place.
  • Kia is largely unpopular in comparison, but holds its strongest position in Hawaii.


A metric as ambiguous as popularity can be defined in so many ways and still be accurate. Our research uses data from Facebook to show how many people “like” a given auto brand in each state. We don’t pretend that the data is a representation of actual vehicles purchased or currently on the road; rather, it’s a visualization of how much traction or brand penetration each automaker has in a geographical area, at least with Facebook users ages 13 and up.

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