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Gap Between Consumer-Preferred Auto Brands Decreases

Toyota received the highest score in Consumer Reports' Brand Perception Survey.

The Consumer Reports Brand Perception Survey reveals a new trend in how consumers view car brands. While the survey does not reflect vehicle quality, it does show that shoppers see fewer differences between the top auto brands and their competitors.

“Toyota, Ford, Honda, and Chevrolet, which have been perennial leaders in the survey, maintained their top positions but have seen the points gap decrease,” says Consumer Reports. “In fact, most of the top brands saw double-digit drops in their total scores.” According to the survey, the five top auto brands are Toyota (131), Ford (121), Honda (94), Chevrolet (92) and Mercedes-Benz (84).

The brands at the top of the list have seen significant drops. Toyota, for example, saw its score drop 16 points compared with last year. “The closer results reflect growing consideration for a wider set of brands,” says Cars.com. “It was followed by Ford (down 23 points), Honda (down 27) and Chevrolet (down 10). Indeed, nine of the top 10 brands' scores fell from last year's survey.”

There have also been additions. Tesla and Fisker were added because consumers are becoming more aware of automakers that make electric cars. They “scored better than many well-established brands,” says Consumer Reports. “Although awareness of those brands is relatively low compared with that of more established companies, respondents who were familiar with them held Fisker and Tesla in high regard for certain categories.”

Some of these shifts can be attributed to high gas prices and a tight economy that has nudged shoppers toward cars that are more affordable, more reliable and good on gas. It is also likely that other events, such as the Toyota recalls a few years ago, Volvo’s 2010 purchase by a Chinese automaker and Saab’s bankruptcy, have influenced the survey. “The decline illustrates the narrowing of brand perception,” summarizes the Los Angeles Times.

To assess brand perception, Consumer Reports asked 2,045 respondents what they think of auto brands based on safety, quality, value, performance, environmentally friendly/green, design/style and technology/innovation. Consumer Reports combined the seven composite scores to get the total brand perception score.

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