5 of America’s Favorite Automotive Brands

Tesla Model S Red

There’s a lot that goes into making a company great. Great product, a great public persona, and great people, among other things. At the end of the day, though, the public’s perception of a brand is perhaps one of the most important factors in a company’s success.

Who better to take a temperature of this metric than Consumer Reports, which has built its name on the tests, reviews, and feedback of the customers themselves? The magazine just released its top 20 list of automotive brands that are leading in brand perception, and the following include the top five.

“These scores reflect how consumers perceive each brand in seven categories: quality, safety, performance, value, fuel economy, design/style, and technology/innovation,” Consumer Reports explained. “Combining the scores for those factors gives us the total brand-perception score.” Here’s how the top five leaders stack up — any surprises?

5. Tesla

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) has established itself as a leading force behind alternative fuel powertrains, and can be credited with the recent acceleration of electric vehicles in mainstream applications. Given the relentelessly positive press from critics and automotive authorities about its Model S sedan, its no surprise that consumers have a high regard for the brand; it scored an 88, up 41 points over the last survey that was circulated.

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4. Chevrolet

General Motors’ (NYSE:GM) flagship brand shows with a score of 105 that it still resonates with consumers, and the bailout program isn’t leaving a terribly sour taste in customers’ mouths. That’s an improvement of 13 points over the last survey; Chevrolet has won critical acclaim for its new Corvette Stingray, the new Silverado line of pickups, and its plug-in hybrid Volt continues to be a leader in its segment.

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3. Honda

Despite losing 13 points since the last Consumer Reports survey, Honda (NYSE:HMC) hung in there with 109 points, just beating out Chevrolet for third place. Honda’s overhauled Accord hybrid leads the midsize sedan hybrid segment with 50 miles per gallon in the city, and its Accord and Civic are continuously among the top ten best sellers in the U.S.

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2. Ford

Ford (NYSE:F) saw a tremendous year during 2013, with improvements seen across the board. Consumers appear to realize it too, which placed Ford in second in terms of brand perception. The Michigan-based company scored 120, three points over its score from last year; it’s likely to get better, too, as Ford is working on 16 model rollouts in the U.S. this year alone.

Toyota Venza

1. Toyota

Toyota (NYSE:TM) remains the leader in brand perception, with 145 points for a secure position in first. The company was able to add four points onto its prior score, indicating that the damage from its unintended acceleration debacle is being repaired. Though Toyota led the industry in recalls during 2013, its apparent that consumers thing no less of the brand, which has a proud history of reliability and quality.

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