Consumer Reports finds Toyota out front in ‘perception’ survey

2014 Toyota Avalon (photo:

American car buyers believe that Toyota is the highest-quality car brand – followed by Ford, Honda and Chevrolet – as the four “continue to dominate in consumers’ minds,” according to an annual study by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

Toyota scored 145 points in the survey, while scores of the other three top brands exceeded 100 points.

“Toyota’s high score seems to reflect the brand’s overcoming the damage due to the publicity in 2009 to 2010 regarding sudden acceleration concerns with some its models,” said Consumer Reports in its online report about the perception survey, “Top 20 car brands as named by consumers.”

Meanwhile, Ford scored 120 points, while Honda and Chevrolet finished with 109 and 105 points, respectively. The remainder of the top 10 brands and their point totals were Tesla (88), Subaru (87), Mercedes-Benz (83), Volvo (80), Cadillac (78) and BMW (73), according to the survey.

The biggest gainers in the top 10 in consumer perceptions, with their points increases in parenthesis, were No. 6 Tesla (41), No. 6 Subaru (40) No. 9 Cadillac (15) and Chevrolet (13).

The scores reflect how car owners perceive each brand in seven categories: quality, safety, performance, value, fuel economy, design/style, and technology/innovation. Consumer Reports combined the scores for those factors for a total brand-perception score.

“Of course, perception and reality often differ,” said Consumer Reports. “Perception can often be a trailing indicator, influenced by word-of-mouth, marketing, and anecdotal hands-on experience. Analyzing the data collected from interviews with 1,578 random adults in car-owning households, we see that there is often a notable correlation as to what might inspire someone to think a brand excels.”

Consumer Reports also offered its observations on the rise of Tesla and Subaru into the top 10.

“The brand to watch is Tesla Motors,” CR said in a press release. “Tesla had a strong, very public year, with soaring stock prices, magazine awards, and exceptional crash-test performance. Innovation, performance, and sleek styling is clearly gaining attention and making a positive impression.”

“Subaru’s safety is a key factor in that brand’s ascension into the top 10,” the magazine said. “This modest-scale automaker has made big news over the past year with its ‘good’ crash-test performance, among other accomplishments … The survey results suggest consumers are paying attention.”

The magazine’s report on the “Top 20 car brands as named by consumers” and the complete “2014 Car-Brand Perception Survey,” which also includes worst-perceived brands, are available online.


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