Ford gains ground in customer perceptionWed, 05 Jan 2011
The Ford brand gained ground in consumers' minds this year as Toyota slipped, though the Japanese juggernaut still leads the pack by a slight margin.
Over the last two years, Ford climbed 35 percentage points while Toyota dropped 46 percentage points, according to the latest survey from Consumer Reports.
During this time, Ford (144) moved within three points of Toyota (147). A year ago, Toyota held a significant lead in the rankings, 196 to 140.5.
Toyota lost ground in the wake of its massive safety recalls, which have dented its image considerably. Meanwhile, high marks for the Fusion hybrid and 2011 Explorer helped Ford close the gap.
The scores in the survey reflect how customers perceive each brand in seven categories: safety, quality, value, performance, design/style, technology/innovation and environmentally friendly/green capability.
Interestingly, while Toyota still leads in brand perception, Ford pulled ahead in the categories that resonate with consumers: safety, quality and value.
Toyota remained strong in environmental friendliness, a category that continues to become less important to consumers. The Consumer Reports survey indicates that 28 percent of consumers now find it to be an important factor when purchasing a car.
The most important factors, according to the study, are safety (65 percent), quality (57 percent) and value (51 percent).
Other category winners include Volvo, in safety. Honda took over the quality category, just ahead of Ford, though in value, Ford edged out Honda. BMW and Porsche again top the list for performance, where Ford came in third.
Luxury brands took top honors for design and style, with BMW taking first, followed by Porsche, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz.
Toyota led in technology, ahead of Mercedes, Ford and Lexus.
The Consumer Reports study was done using a random telephone survey of 1,721 adults in households that had at least one car.
By Jake Lingeman