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Ford Soars, Toyota Stumbles in Consumer Reports Survey
The New York Times

January 5, 2011, 12:02 PM

Ford has matched Toyota and outdistanced Honda in a new survey by Consumer Reports that tries to gauge how positively consumers perceive various brands.

“We saw some pretty dramatic movement related to Ford and Toyota,” said Jeff Bartlett, the magazine’s deputy online automotive editor, in a telephone interview. Since the survey’s inception five years ago, Toyota always “dominated by a long shot,” he said.

But this year’s survey, released Wednesday, showed that Ford had moved up significantly over the last two years as Toyota, troubled by recalls and negative publicity, had fallen, according to a Consumer Reports statement.

The survey was based on a nationwide telephone survey in December of 1,721 adults in homes where at least one vehicle was owned. Participants were asked to consider factors like environmental friendliness, safety, performance, quality, value, design/style and technology/innovation. But while perception might get consumers into showrooms, the magazine said it did not necessarily “directly represent the actual qualities of any brand’s vehicles.”

Toyota received 147 points, a decline of 46 points over the last two years. Ford earned 144 points, an increase of 35 points over that same period. Despite Toyota’s three-point advantage over Ford, Consumer Reports called it a “statistical tie.”

Mr. Bartlett said participants ranked Ford ahead of Toyota in safety, value, performance and design, while Toyota ranked ahead in technology and the “environmentally friendly/green” category. Without Toyota’s victory in the green category, Ford would have claimed the overall top score, the magazine said.

Third over all was Honda with 121 points. The magazine said that the brand’s score had fallen 28 points over the last two years.

The following automakers placed fourth through tenth: Chevrolet, 102 points; BMW, 93 points; Mercedes-Benz, 90 points; Volvo, 84 points; Lexus, 69 points; Cadillac, 66 points; and Subaru, with 50 points.

The magazine called out four brands in particular for their significant drops over the last year:

  • Toyota, down 49 points.
  • Subaru, down 31 points.
  • Chevrolet, down 22 points.
  • Lexus, down 11 points.

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