DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co. matched Toyota Motor Corp. as the most favorably viewed auto brand by U.S. consumers in a survey released today by Consumer Reports magazine.
Ford has climbed 35 percentage points in the last two years, while Toyota has fallen 46 points, leaving the automakers “in a statistical dead heat,” the Yonkers, New York-based consumer magazine said.
Toyota declined as it recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide during the past two years. Ford, the only major U.S. automaker to avoid bankruptcy, improved its reputation for safety, quality and value, the magazine said.
“Ford built on the momentum seen in last year's study, likely the result of a model lineup with improving performance, reliability and styling,” Consumer Reports said in a statement today. “The massive recalls announced by Toyota earlier this year contributed to the tarnishing of its public image as measured by the poll.”
Safety, quality, and value continued to be the most important factors for consumers who are considering the purchase of a new car, Consumer Reportssaid.
The magazine said Toyota maintained a significant lead in a survey category that continues to become less important to consumers: environmentally friendly/green. Toyota leads the category by a large margin, with a score of 46, compared to second-place Ford at 18. Without Toyota's standing in the green category, Ford would have clearly claimed the top overall score, the magazine said.
The survey also found that "environmentally friendly" and "green factors" continue to drop -- with only 28 percent of consumers finding it to be an important factor, down by 4 percentage points since last year and by 12 points since 2008. The drop is likely a sign of leaner economic times and an unwillingness among consumers to spend more for green technologies, the magazine said.
The ten most recognizable brands, and their score, based on the perception of car owners are: Toyota (147), Ford (144), Honda (121), Chevrolet (102), BMW (93), Mercedes-Benz (90), Volvo (84), Lexus (69), Cadillac (66), and Subaru (50). Honda and Chevrolet retained their third and fourth place finishes, while BMW leapt over Volvo and Mercedes-Benz to capture fifth place, the magazine said.
The four brands with a double-digit drop in brand perception are Toyota (-49 points), Subaru (-31 points), Chevrolet (-22 points) and Lexus (-11 points). After a 23-point jump last year, Subaru declined to fall below its 2008 score.
Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted the nationwide survey Dec. 2 through Dec. 6 of 1,721 adults in households that had at least one car.