Consumers Choose The Best And The Worst Car Brands

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
consumers choose the best and the worst car brands

Tesla is one of the ten highest rated car brands in America, says the Consumer Reports 2012 Car-Brand Perception Survey. Is that a good thing? Marketers are troubled by this development. The trouble is not that a newcomer like Tesla is rated so highly.

Overall, the halos of the top brands are fading fast.

Toyota, Ford, Honda, and Chevrolet, perennial leaders in the survey, maintained their top positions but have seen the points gap decrease. Most of the top brands saw double-digit drops in their total scores. Which allows smaller companies to catch up.

At the turn of the millennium, people in highly developed countries started to tire of brands. Words like “brand blase”, “anti-brand” and “reverse snobism” made the rounds. It started with fashion, where the display of fancy labels became gauche, and low priced outlets like H&M or Uniqlo became cool. Cars were one of the last areas where brands made a difference. Now it seems to be their turn.

“Overall, the car-brand leaders do not stand out from the pack the way they did only a couple years ago,” says the study. Toyota continues to dominate overall in brand perception, although it slipped a 17 points, compared with last year’s survey results. Other top brands, Ford, Honda, and BMW, likewise dropped more than 20 points. Cadillac and Chevrolet saw only single-digit decreases.

America’s Top Car Brands 2012


America’s Worst Car Brands 2012

BrandScoreInfiniti16Mazda16Jeep12Suzuki11Mercury10Land Rover8Fiat7Mini7Mitsubishi7Saab5
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  • Dimwit Dimwit on Jan 24, 2012

    Mazda was the shocker for me. Try that in Canada and it'll be a different story. Mazda is always a perennial favourite up here.

  • Beta Blocker Beta Blocker on Jan 24, 2012

    My wife has a 2008 Honda Accord and I drive a 2009 Mazda 6. The Accord has about 40,000 miles on it, and the Mazda about 25,000. Rather than getting a second Accord back in 2009, I got the Mazda 6 because Honda had moved away from the core of the sport sedan market with their latest Accord design philosophy, especially with their Accord interiors. In our experience, the Mazda 6 is every bit as good a car as the Honda Accord -- or better if responsiveness and handling are considered -- and the quality and attentiveness of Mazda dealer service in our area is just as good as, if not better, than Honda's dealer service. Mazda's low rating is a bum rap, plain and simple.

    • Duffman13 Duffman13 on Jan 25, 2012

      I picked up a 3 hatch for my wife in 2010, and I can say the same thing about that car. Compared to My RSX-S when it was stock and leaving out the power deficit, the 3 is just as nice to drive and has been just as reliable. My mother-in-law has a 2009 Civic that I've driven on occasion, and the fact that it doesn't have a hatch notwithstanding, the 3 is better than the civic in almost every qualitative and quantitative way, whether it be interior fit&finish, power delivery, enjoyable handling, etc. With how crappy the '12 civics are, I don't know why anybody would buy one over the mazda aside from perception of honda as a brand granted, 0% interest for 60 months is great too and what really got us in the door to buy the car

  • Pgcooldad Pgcooldad on Jan 25, 2012

    Perception is not reality when it comes to Jeep. Go price a used Wrangler. How about Grand Cherokee's Plant adding 1100 jobs to add a third shift? And Mazda, Infinity, Mercury so low! My perception of Consumers Report continues to be the same - bird cage liner!

    • LectroByte LectroByte on Jan 25, 2012

      My experience with a new Jeep a few years back was the thing was in the shop every other month for leaky axle seals or electrical problems or something that a $30,000+ vehicle should not have, but I did like it for its offroad capabilities. For the money spent on it, though, I had way higher expectations and ended up trading it in after 2 and a half years and 28,000 not-so-glorious miles. I'd probably not consider them again.

  • AoLetsGo AoLetsGo on Jan 25, 2012

    Silly me I thought Teslea was an English tea?