Consumer Reports' 2008 Car Brand Perception Survey: Drivers See Toyota, Honda as Best Overall

But perception is not always reality







Jan 08, 2008, 00:00 ET from Consumer Reports

    NEW YORK, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumers perceived Toyota
 and Honda brands to be best by a wide margin, followed by Ford, Chevrolet,
 and GMC, according to Consumer Reports' 2008 Car Brand Perception Survey.
 The survey also revealed that car buyers consider safety and quality as the
 most important considerations, followed by value, performance,
 environmental friendliness, design, and technical innovation.
 
 
 
     The latest Auto Pulse survey conducted by Consumer Reports' National
 Research Center, the Car Brand Perception Survey, focused on how consumers
 perceive and rank car brands in the seven key areas mentioned above. It
 also looked at which of these factors are most important to consumers when
 buying a vehicle. Category rankings and analysis can be found online in the
 Cars section of http://www.ConsumerReports.org.
 
 
 
     Toyota and Honda topped overall rankings with scores of 189 and 146
 points, respectively, and took a place in the top five in six of the seven
 categories. Ford finished third with 112 points, followed by Chevrolet with
 110, and GMC with 102. Chevrolet and Ford are the only U.S. brands that
 rank in the top five in more than one category; each makes the cut in three
 areas. Among brands that fared worst, Acura finished with eight points,
 followed by Audi (14 pts.). Mitsubishi (21 pts.), Mercury (22 pts.), and
 Buick (25 pts.).
 
 
 
     Dig deeper, though, and in many cases, consumers' views do not
 accurately reflect the automaker's recent track record. For example,
 Mercedes-Benz finished in the top five for quality. But the brand placed
 33rd out of 36th in Consumer Reports' latest rankings for predicted
 reliability, a measure of quality over time. Toyota earned a top spot in
 this category. And while its vehicles have typically rated well in areas
 associated with quality, the brand slipped from first place to fifth in the
 same predicted reliability ratings.
 
 
 
     "It is well worth doing your research before making a purchase," said
 Jeff Bartlett, deputy autos editor, ConsumerReports.org. "Depreciation,
 reliability, safety and other factors may be different from what you
 associate with a particular brand."
 
 
 
     With a score of 77 percent in the Safety category, Volvo is clearly
 first in consumers' minds. No other category is so unilaterally dominated
 by one brand. But in another example of perception over reality, Subaru
 scored well in the Safety category, yet many lower-trim models don't
 include electronic stability control, a highly recommended safety feature.
 Other automakers consistently on the cutting edge of safety technology --
 such as BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz --- don't make it into the top five.
 Among new-car shoppers, 63 percent felt safety is the most important
 consideration.
 
 
 
     When it comes to Value, Korean brand Kia finished well with 23 percent
 of consumers saying they think the brand is a good buy. While this could be
 a reflection of the make's low-cost models and long warranty, the predicted
 depreciation for some Kia models is poor -- not a good-value
 characteristic.
 
 
 
     While some perceptions don't match reality, others do. BMW and Porsche
 led the Performance category with 28 and 25 percentage points,
 respectively. The vehicles from both brands have consistently earned high
 ratings in performance in testing at Consumer Reports' 327-acre Auto Test
 Center.
 
 
 
     Coming in at 49 percent, Toyota dominated the Environmentally
 Friendly/Green category, likely due to the company's role as a pioneer in
 hybrid technology and its strong-selling Prius hybrid. The Prius is also
 one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles Consumer Reports has tested.
 Consumers consider environmental friendliness substantially more
 significant (35%) than styling (23%), and more than twice as significant as
 technology and innovation (15%).
 
 
 
     In the Design/Style category, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus virtually tied
 (24%), with both holding a slim margin over Cadillac (23%). In general, car
 buyers in this survey rated styling low among purchase considerations, but
 it's easy to underestimate the sales potential of head-turning styling.
 This is the only category in which Toyota and Honda did not rank in the top
 five.
 
 
 
     As for Technology/Innovation, Toyota (30%), Lexus (29%), Honda (20%),
 Cadillac (18%), and BMW (17%) rounded out the top five brands.
 
 
 
     Methodology
 
 
 
     To learn about consumers' car brand perceptions, the Consumer Reports
 National Research Center conducted a random, nationwide telephone survey
 from December 6-10, 2007, contacting 2,037 adults. The survey data was
 collected from the 1,720 adults whose household owns at least one car.
 
 
 
     Overall brand perception is an index calculated as the total number of
 times that the particular make was mentioned as an exemplar across all
 seven categories, divided by the total unaided mentions. This approach
 adjusts for awareness level, ensuring every brand has an equal chance of
 leading a category, not just the best-selling or most well-known brands.
 
 
 
     Category scores reflect the number of times that the particular make
 was mentioned as an exemplar of the particular attribute, again adjusted
 for awareness.
 
 
 
     Consumer Reports' Auto Pulse Survey Series
 
 
 
     Throughout the year, Consumer Reports conducts Auto Pulse surveys that
 track current opinions, perceptions, and buying trends -- the pulse -- of
 the American consumer automotive marketplace. Results are announced to the
 media and posted to http://www.ConsumerReports.org, the largest paid Web
 publication.
 
 
 
     With more than 7,000,000 print and online subscribers, Consumer Reports
 is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer
 products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program
 of any U.S. publication or Website; the magazine's auto experts have
 decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To become
 a subscriber, consumers can call 1-800-234-1645. Information and articles
 from the magazine can be accessed online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org.
 
 
 
     APS PULSE SURVEY #11 - CAR BRAND PERCEPTIONS
 
 
 
     The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it
 may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R)
 is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit
 organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe
 marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect
 themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To
 maintain our independence and impartiality, CU accepts no outside
 advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the
 interests of consumers. CU supports itself through the sale of our
 information products and services, individual contributions, and a few
 noncommercial grants.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

SOURCE Consumer Reports
    NEW YORK, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumers perceived Toyota
 and Honda brands to be best by a wide margin, followed by Ford, Chevrolet,
 and GMC, according to Consumer Reports' 2008 Car Brand Perception Survey.
 The survey also revealed that car buyers consider safety and quality as the
 most important considerations, followed by value, performance,
 environmental friendliness, design, and technical innovation.
 
 
 
     The latest Auto Pulse survey conducted by Consumer Reports' National
 Research Center, the Car Brand Perception Survey, focused on how consumers
 perceive and rank car brands in the seven key areas mentioned above. It
 also looked at which of these factors are most important to consumers when
 buying a vehicle. Category rankings and analysis can be found online in the
 Cars section of http://www.ConsumerReports.org.
 
 
 
     Toyota and Honda topped overall rankings with scores of 189 and 146
 points, respectively, and took a place in the top five in six of the seven
 categories. Ford finished third with 112 points, followed by Chevrolet with
 110, and GMC with 102. Chevrolet and Ford are the only U.S. brands that
 rank in the top five in more than one category; each makes the cut in three
 areas. Among brands that fared worst, Acura finished with eight points,
 followed by Audi (14 pts.). Mitsubishi (21 pts.), Mercury (22 pts.), and
 Buick (25 pts.).
 
 
 
     Dig deeper, though, and in many cases, consumers' views do not
 accurately reflect the automaker's recent track record. For example,
 Mercedes-Benz finished in the top five for quality. But the brand placed
 33rd out of 36th in Consumer Reports' latest rankings for predicted
 reliability, a measure of quality over time. Toyota earned a top spot in
 this category. And while its vehicles have typically rated well in areas
 associated with quality, the brand slipped from first place to fifth in the
 same predicted reliability ratings.
 
 
 
     "It is well worth doing your research before making a purchase," said
 Jeff Bartlett, deputy autos editor, ConsumerReports.org. "Depreciation,
 reliability, safety and other factors may be different from what you
 associate with a particular brand."
 
 
 
     With a score of 77 percent in the Safety category, Volvo is clearly
 first in consumers' minds. No other category is so unilaterally dominated
 by one brand. But in another example of perception over reality, Subaru
 scored well in the Safety category, yet many lower-trim models don't
 include electronic stability control, a highly recommended safety feature.
 Other automakers consistently on the cutting edge of safety technology --
 such as BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz --- don't make it into the top five.
 Among new-car shoppers, 63 percent felt safety is the most important
 consideration.
 
 
 
     When it comes to Value, Korean brand Kia finished well with 23 percent
 of consumers saying they think the brand is a good buy. While this could be
 a reflection of the make's low-cost models and long warranty, the predicted
 depreciation for some Kia models is poor -- not a good-value
 characteristic.
 
 
 
     While some perceptions don't match reality, others do. BMW and Porsche
 led the Performance category with 28 and 25 percentage points,
 respectively. The vehicles from both brands have consistently earned high
 ratings in performance in testing at Consumer Reports' 327-acre Auto Test
 Center.
 
 
 
     Coming in at 49 percent, Toyota dominated the Environmentally
 Friendly/Green category, likely due to the company's role as a pioneer in
 hybrid technology and its strong-selling Prius hybrid. The Prius is also
 one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles Consumer Reports has tested.
 Consumers consider environmental friendliness substantially more
 significant (35%) than styling (23%), and more than twice as significant as
 technology and innovation (15%).
 
 
 
     In the Design/Style category, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus virtually tied
 (24%), with both holding a slim margin over Cadillac (23%). In general, car
 buyers in this survey rated styling low among purchase considerations, but
 it's easy to underestimate the sales potential of head-turning styling.
 This is the only category in which Toyota and Honda did not rank in the top
 five.
 
 
 
     As for Technology/Innovation, Toyota (30%), Lexus (29%), Honda (20%),
 Cadillac (18%), and BMW (17%) rounded out the top five brands.
 
 
 
     Methodology
 
 
 
     To learn about consumers' car brand perceptions, the Consumer Reports
 National Research Center conducted a random, nationwide telephone survey
 from December 6-10, 2007, contacting 2,037 adults. The survey data was
 collected from the 1,720 adults whose household owns at least one car.
 
 
 
     Overall brand perception is an index calculated as the total number of
 times that the particular make was mentioned as an exemplar across all
 seven categories, divided by the total unaided mentions. This approach
 adjusts for awareness level, ensuring every brand has an equal chance of
 leading a category, not just the best-selling or most well-known brands.
 
 
 
     Category scores reflect the number of times that the particular make
 was mentioned as an exemplar of the particular attribute, again adjusted
 for awareness.
 
 
 
     Consumer Reports' Auto Pulse Survey Series
 
 
 
     Throughout the year, Consumer Reports conducts Auto Pulse surveys that
 track current opinions, perceptions, and buying trends -- the pulse -- of
 the American consumer automotive marketplace. Results are announced to the
 media and posted to http://www.ConsumerReports.org, the largest paid Web
 publication.
 
 
 
     With more than 7,000,000 print and online subscribers, Consumer Reports
 is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer
 products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program
 of any U.S. publication or Website; the magazine's auto experts have
 decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To become
 a subscriber, consumers can call 1-800-234-1645. Information and articles
 from the magazine can be accessed online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org.
 
 
 
     APS PULSE SURVEY #11 - CAR BRAND PERCEPTIONS
 
 
 
     The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it
 may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R)
 is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit
 organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe
 marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect
 themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To
 maintain our independence and impartiality, CU accepts no outside
 advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the
 interests of consumers. CU supports itself through the sale of our
 information products and services, individual contributions, and a few
 noncommercial grants.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 SOURCE Consumer Reports