Ford, Chevrolet, and Toyota have a commanding lead in car brand awareness, as determined from interviewing car owners for the 2012 Car Brand Perception Survey.
Consumer Reports’ 2012 Car Brand Perception Survey reveals how consumers rank car brands across seven purchase-influencing factors, such as safety, quality, and value. And the research also sheds light on what brands consumers are likely to purchase from for their next new car. Ford, Toyota, and Chevrolet lead purchase intent, though Honda has a higher brand loyalty rate than its domestic competitors.
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 Buick Encore paves the way for a new market segment: The very-compact upscale SUV. The Encore is smaller than the Chevrolet Equinox. In fact, it is 13 inches shorter than a Toyota RAV4. When it launches next year, the Encore may be the first vehicle of its kind in America. The BMW X1 and Audi Q3 are its natural competition, but the Buick is expected to beat them to market here, assuming those Germans even make it here at all.
As I made my last tour of the Cobo Center show floor in Detroit, it struck me how few new models stood out to me this year. I love that most unveilings were practical, or at least skewed toward the practical, from traditional mainstream models edging upscale to prestige brands reaching down toward mainstream budgets. The cars that etch themselves into my memory are distinctive in appearance, function, and/or mission, leaving so many others anonymous in an army of clones.
A total of 115 vehicles have earned the 2012 Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) including 69 cars, 38 SUVs, 5 minivans and 3 pickups. Eighteen new models make the list this year including the Acura MDX, Acura TL, Acura TSX, BMW X3, Buick Verano, Honda Accord, Honda CR-V, Honda CR-Z, Honda Fit, Honda Insight, Honda Pilot, Honda Ridgeline, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Scion xD, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Camry, Toyota Prius V, and Toyota Yaris.
“Small Buick” may sound as unnatural as “loose tights” given Buick’s long history of large cars. But the newly reconstituted General Motors has been gradually recasting Buick as a full-line brand, and the Verano is a building block toward that goal. It’s a small sedan using the same platform as the Chevrolet Cruze, but with longer overhangs, more sound-deadening materials, a nicer interior, and more available options. Prices start at $23,470 and top out just under $29,000.
Consumer Reports recently unveiled the results of its latest reliability survey, showing that Asian brands continue to occupy the top-tier, claiming nine of the top 10 spots in our rankings. However, the findings among the domestic brands are noteworthy, and there’s plenty of good news within each segment.
The other issue inherent to electric cars, in addition to their limited range, is how long it takes to recharge them. A “quick” 30-minute recharge could make a big difference for electric car drivers, albeit it’s still longer than a fill-up. And one reason such fast chargers have been slow to appear—other than cost, who pays for them, and how do they become profitable—is that it can be hard to get a bunch of car companies to agree on anything. So when seven automakers agree to a new standard for charging, it sounds like a breakthrough. Except when the rest don’t.
Drivers and front passengers in crossover vehicles made by General Motors could soon get another layer of protection during collisions. Today, GM announced it will offer a new centrally-mounted air bag that is said to better protect occupants in side-impact crashes.
Some days are better than others, especially if they are spent at a private test track with dozens of new cars. Several members of the Consumer Reports Cars team went to the Monticello Motor Club last week for the annual International Motor Press Association (IMPA) track days, sampling the latest cars on a 3.6-mile race track. Naturally, the staff found some favorites from among these high-speed first impressions.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and General Motors are recalling more than 4,000 Buick LaCrosse vehicles for failing to meet federal requirements for electronic stability control, or ESC.
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