Ford, Toyota Locked in “Dead Heat,” Says Consumer Reports

Ford “excels in factors that consumers say matter.”

by on Jan.05, 2011

Ford gains, Toyota declines, in latest Consumer Reports Brand Perception study.

Ford and Toyota have found themselves in a statistical “dead heat” in terms of how they’re perceived by U.S. car buyers, reports Consumer Reports magazine.

The annual Car Brand Perception Survey reveals a number of trends and surprises about how motorists relate to various automotive brands.  Not unexpectedly, Toyota has taken some serious hits as a result of more than a year of scandals relating to its various quality and safety problems.  Ford, on the other hand, continues to gain momentum with an assortment of new products that seem to be hitting the sweet spot in the American market.

“Ford excels in the factors that consumers say matter most,” the influential non-profit publication reports, “safety, quality and value.”

Ironically, the good news for Ford comes just a day after Consumer Reports reviewers decided not to give a “Buy” recommendation to the maker’s Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers, contending that their “MyTouch” touchscreen infotainment systems are “overly complicated and distracting.” (Click Here for the full story.) That same technology has won numerous endorsements from other third-party reviewers, reflecting Ford’s generally positive growth in consumer perception.

The Detroit maker saw its score in the 2011 Car Brand Perception Survey rise by a substantial 35 points, for a score of 144, while Toyota’s score fell by 46 points, to 147 – a statistically insignificant gap, according to CR.

The Brand Perception study was conducted at the beginning of December using a telephone poll of 1,721 American adults.  The survey examined the way they perceived various automotive brands in seven different categories: safety, quality, value, performance, design and style, technology and innovation, and what might be described as “green-ness.”

Ford has been landing at or near the top in a variety of recent studies.  Notably, its “Blue Oval” brand was the only mainstream marque to land in the top five on the annual J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Survey – ahead of both the Toyota and Scion brands, but behind the Japanese maker’s top-line Lexus division.

The U.S. maker also scored well in another influential Consumer Reports study which rated makers according to vehicle reliability.

“Ford still dominates in terms of domestic brands,” said David Champion, the magazines lead automotive tester, adding that, “It’s getting up there now to where Toyota is.”  In fact, the Ford Fusion, he noted, was the top-ranked model in the critical midsize sedan segment, ahead of both the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, though Honda still topped the magazine’s overall reliability chart as a brand.

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