DETROIT – Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> again topped an annual U.S. consumer survey on brand perception released on Friday as all the top automakers' scores rose from last year.
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"The brand leaders have a really strong hold on the mind-share of the consumer," Jeff Bartlett, deputy auto editor online for Consumer Reports, said in an interview.
"We're seeing much less space between brands. In other words, consumers seem to think many excel in the areas that matter most to them and it's harder for brands to stand out."
For example, he said safety is very important to consumers, but most cars are pretty safe.
The survey comes less than a month after the Detroit auto show, during which the industry showed off its latest vehicles and concept cars.
Bartlett said the survey was "one window into what consumers are thinking" and is often a lagging indicator influenced by news headlines or neighborhood experiences.
Each of the top 10 saw perception scores rise in the survey. It is based on how consumers perceive each brand in seven categories: quality, safety, value, performance, design, technology and green attributes. The first two categories remain the top buying factors, the magazine said.
Toyota led with a score of 133 points, up about 11 points from last year. Ford, Honda and Chevy saw their total perception scores respectively rise about 2 points to 117.8 points, about 26 points to 114 and more than 7 points to 94.4.
Rounding out the top 10 after Mercedes (77.4 points) and Volvo (76.5 points) were GM's Cadillac (66.2 points), BMW (65.6 points), Chrysler's Dodge brand (55.8 points) and Tesla (54.8 points).
Tesla, relying largely on its new Model S all-electric sedan, gained about 13 points and Dodge's 23-point gain bumped Toyota's Lexus brand to 11th from 9th last year.
The bottom five in the survey were BMW's Mini brand (10 points), Fiat (8 points), Chrysler's Ram (7 points) and Mitsubishi <7211.T> and Toyota's Scion (each at 6 points).
(Reporting By Ben Klayman in Detroit. Editing by Andre Grenon)