DETROIT -- Toyota, Ford and Honda continue to maintain the top three spots in a survey of consumer perceptions about automotive brands, but their lead over other brands is shrinking, Consumer Reports says.
Only two points behind Honda this year was Chevrolet, followed by Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo, Cadillac, Lexus and newcomer Tesla to round out the top ten.
Saab, Fiat, Mini and Mitsubishi had the worst overall brand perception, according to the survey by the magazine.
Saab, which was declared bankrupt in December, earned only five points in overall brand perception while Fiat, Mini and Mitsubishi were all tied with seven points.
Most of the top brands saw double-digit drops in their scores.
Toyota dropped 16 points, from 147 points in 2011 to 131 points this year. Ford and Honda dropped 21 and 27 points, respectively.
"Dramatic events in the automotive industry seem to be affecting how consumers view auto brands," Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports' deputy editor for autos online, said in a statement. "Erratic gasoline prices and a struggling economy have pushed consumers to prize low operating costs and good reliability."
The survey is based on data collected Dec. 1 through 5 from 1,702 adults in households with at least one car.
The magazine said the scores were adjusted to correct for awareness of brands and provide a more level playing field for new brands such as Fiat, Fisker, and Tesla. Its margin of error is plus or minus 2.4 percent with a 95 percent confidence level.