Consumer Reports 2010 Car Brand Perception Survey results just published

After one of the worst years ever for the auto industry, which automakers do you think came out of 2009 with an unsullied reputation? Consumer Reports just published its 2010 Car Brand Perception Survey and the results are a bit perplexing. Naming the manufacturers that slipped last year would probably be a piece of cake, but try to guess which ones came out ahead of their 2008 rankings.

Before you try to guess, here are the ground rules. According to CR, "The scores reflect how consumers perceive each brand in seven categories: Safety, quality, value, performance, design/style, technology/innovation, and environmentally friendly/green." Further, "The scores reflect consumers' total perception level of a brand across those categories, and not the actual qualities of the brand's individual vehicles."

The overall top brands in the rankings were the usual suspects for the most part. Toyota was tops (guess CR readers haven't heard about that sticky gas pedal thing), followed by America's sole avoider of bankruptcy, Ford, then Honda. Somewhat surprisingly, Chevrolet placed fourth – bankruptcy be damned. Carmakers improving by the largest percentage over last year were an equally mixed bag. Chevy and Ford improved quite a bit, but the company posting the biggest gain was Subaru, which mirrored the success it had on the showroom floor in 2009.

Perhaps even more interesting were the bottom brands. Not surprisingly in these green-leaning times, Hummer scored the lowest as a brand, followed closely by GM problem-child, Saab. The Swedish firm was actually tied, though, with Ford's forgotten brand, Mercury, and shockingly, recent Ford divestiture, Mazda. Dropping the most this year were luxury brands like Porsche, Lexus and Lincoln. How Porsche and Lexus dropped so much is a bit of a mystery, but Cadillac droppng 15 points was a real head-scratcher considering the success of the CTS.

The complete survey is an interesting read, as are the full rankings. The top scorers in each category is particularly revealing. Before you click the source link below, though, try to guess where your favorite brands placed. You might be as surprised as we were.

[Source: Consumer Reports]