Today's vehicles are more powerful, more efficient and safer than ever before. In fact, today's car buyer would be hard pressed to spend his or her money on a genuinely bad vehicle. But those overall improvements may have also led consumers to believe there are no real differences between the various products offered by the world's major automakers. According to the Consumer Reports 2012 Car-Brand Perception Survey, Toyota, Ford, Honda and Chevrolet have all seen their scores drop by double digits compared to last year.

The survey asks consumers to rate brands across seven categories. Consumer Reports says that by combining those categories, the organization can get a handle on how each brand is perceived in the marketplace.

This year, Toyota continued to lead in the survey, though its persistent recalls saw the brand's perception fall by 17 points this year. Ford, Honda and BMW all saw their perception scores plummet more than 20 points. The results may indicate consumers are seeing fewer differences between automakers as products continue to improve. While that's good news for smaller automakers like Hyundai, Kia and Subaru, larger names in the industry should be worried. Head over to Consumer Reports for the full report.


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  • 115 Comments
      Travisty
      • 2 Years Ago
      I honestly think it's partially due to younger buyers shopping distinct models instead of older buyers buying on branding. Older buyers focus on the brand first, then see what that brand offers, or they'll find one model that they like and stick with it. My parents (60s/70s) have bought 3 Accords in the past decade (an '01, an '07 (?) and an '11). They cross-shopped briefly with a Camry the last time, but decided to just stick with what they knew even though their '01 gave them a TON of transmission trouble. It had had it's transmission completely replaced twice under warranty within the first ~100k miles, and was a well-known problem for that year, but they still opted to stay with the brand/model. Younger buyers are far more likely to cross-shop among styles, and to pick the best one out of the various brands. When we last were purchasing a car, we focused on the style first (small hatchback) and then cross-shopped the different models (tc, xB, Mazda3, Focus, Civic, etc). If they are all similar in build quality and dependability, why burden yourself with a sub-performing model (or lesser-value model) just because of the emblem on the front?
      rkeeeballs
      • 2 Years Ago
      Many major car companies use the same vendors for their various parts...There are companies that exist just to meet the needs of auto makers ....enough to almost build their own cars.....(Magna International) is one !
      Mike Pulsifer
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's because they design their cars to be as bland and inoffensive as possible. Polarizing designs don't deliver massive market share numbers.
      Jimmery
      • 2 Years Ago
      The differences become much more evident when you test drive vehicles. After trying a few out, people get an idea of what they like or don't like among the competitors. If a person doesn't test drive to compare, it's all a wash of numbers and colours, and things tend to blend together.
      Hazdaz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Their scores might have dropped, but that might not be a bad thing for the Detroit carmakers. If brands like Ford and Chevy are really being considered to be "the same" as Toyota and Honda, then its "only" taken Detroit 30-some years, but they are finally even with the Japanese. Its kind of ridiculous that its taken so long, but I consider this a "win" for Ford and GM.
      Will
      • 2 Years Ago
      My god, I hope some of you people are trolls and don't actually think this way.
      Blakkar
      • 2 Years Ago
      That stands to reason. All their vehicles are pretty much the same thing, depending on the segment. They just look different and not always all that different.
      Burabus
      • 2 Years Ago
      CR haters are ridiculous. sorry the chevy malibu wasn't ranked the best car ever made
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Burabus
        [blocked]
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Alex
      • 2 Years Ago
      It doesn't matter if cars today are much better than their counterparts 20, 30, 40 years ago because we're comparing modern cars to modern cars. CR, as always, irrelevant.
      GangstaB
      • 2 Years Ago
      I totally agree Consumer Reports. You're totally right. I mean what's the difference between a Lamborghini and a Mazda anyways? They both make products with doors, headlights, brakes, 4 wheels with tires, and there's a steering wheel inside all of them. You sit in a seat and push a gas pedal to go and a brake pedal to stop in both. Yup Consumer Reports totally hit the nail on the head with this one.
        Chris Bangle
        • 2 Years Ago
        @GangstaB
        Your statement would be relevant if super cars were even included in this survey
          Random Guy
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Chris Bangle
          @Chris sigh...He's obviously being Sarcastic. no need to downvote him
      Mike
      • 2 Years Ago
      Before buying a car or a truck from a foreign company, think about this: Those foreign car companies that are building plants here in the USA pay American workers half of what workers from American car companies make. That's half the money to spend and half the tax revenue collected from wages! Also all the profits from these plants go right back to a foreign country except what goes into our politicians pockets. NOW TELL ME THIS IS GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY!!!!! No other country would allow foreign companies to take over their auto industry. That is exactly what is happening to the USA!!
        buck4u57
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mike
        Mike, as much as I like the sentiment of your post I have to point out something. Let me use the example of my Dodge truck: Poking around under the hood you will find an engine made in Canada, the transmission was made in Germany, all the electrical pieces are by Nippon Denso from Japan, the interior of the cab, including the dash, was made in Mexico. The springs were made in Mexico. The axles, it is a 4WD so it still has a front axle, were made by Dana in the US. All of these components were assembled in Michigan so it's an American truck, by definition. BTW, this is a 1993 model made before the Germans took over ChryCo. My "American" Chrylser 300C is even less American. The owner's manual lists all the Mercedes Benz parts and systems that were thrown together to make this car with it's Mexican made HEMI engine. I'd be surprised if it has 10% American content. I would bet it's been 40 years or more since an American company made a car with anything close to 100% American content. It's a global economy now. I'm not going to argue the merits, the economics or the politics of it, but it exists whether we as Americans like it or not.
          Rayvan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @buck4u57
          Again, you forgot about where most of the engineers work.
        Rich
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mike
        As much as I like many of the foreign cars, I will stick to buying American. Ford, GM, and even Chrysler are now making cars that are right on par with anything the foreign companies are making. And you are correct, the American companies pay their workers better and the money stays in the US.
        chapython
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mike
        It is good for the American economy. See your other post on another article. Same wording as this one.
          Rayvan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @chapython
          Yes, it's good for the economy to only employ assemblers and forget about all those un-employed engineers.
        shutdn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mike
        your misinformed... the package Toyota offers is better then what the u.s. companies offer thats why they vote out the union year after year. also Toyota now makes more cars in the U.S. then in Japan. How many cars does G.M. make in the U.S....not very many..most are made in Canada and Mexico
          Rayvan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @shutdn
          They're only assembled here. Where do the engineers work? Japan.
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