The people have spoken: Toyota, Ford, Honda, and Chevrolet excel over other brands in the minds of adult car owners, though the brand’s advantages are less this year than in the past. These are among the findings of the 2012 Car-Brand Perception Survey, conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.
The survey scores reflect how consumers perceive each brand in seven categories: safety, quality, value, performance, environmentally friendly/green, design/style, and technology/innovation. Combining those factors gives us the total brand-perception score, as shown in the chart below. While the scores reflect a brand’s overall image in consumers’ minds, they do not represent the actual qualities of any brand’s vehicles.
It used to be that Toyota ruled over all brands, with a greater lead over mid-pack brands due to being identified as a leader in multiple categories. This year, the overall score for Toyota and second-place Ford are lower than in years past, though they remain distinguished as the only brands with triple-digit results.
The latest survey results show consumers are identifying with more brands than before, making it harder for most brands to stand out from the competition. It also signals that car buyers may be seeing the merits in more brands, rather than so closely identifying single brands as owning a given category.
Top 20 Car Brands by Perception
Toyota and Ford still rule the list by enviable margins, though the midpack performers see few points separating brands.
With consumers becoming more aware of electric cars, we added small, specialty companies Fisker and Tesla to our latest survey; they scored better than many established brands. Although awareness of those brands is relatively low compared with more well-known automakers, respondents who were familiar with them held Fisker and Tesla in high regard for certain categories. Tesla even scored high enough to make the top 10.
Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a random, nationwide telephone survey of 2,045 adults from Dec. 1-5, 2011, and collected survey data from 1,702 adults in households that had at least one car.
See our complete story on the 2012 Car-Brand Perception Survey to see how the brands measured up in the seven categories, how they compare against last year’s results, and which brands remain the lowest ranked.