Consumer Reports’ 2012 Car Brand Perception Survey reveals how consumers rank car brands across seven purchase-influencing factors, such as safety, quality, and value. And the research also sheds light on what brands consumers are likely to purchase from for their next new car. Ford, Toyota, and Chevrolet lead purchase intent, though Honda has a higher brand loyalty rate than its domestic competitors.
These four makes dominate among those that consumers are most likely to purchase the next time they shop for a new car. Collectively, they were singled out by more than one-half of consumers who participated in this survey.
Gender differences had men more likely to focus on truck-purveyors Ford (19 vs 14 percent women) and Chevrolet (15 vs 11 percent women). Women had a stronger preference for Toyota (16 vs 12 percent men), a brand whose sales mix heavily favors cars and crossovers over rugged trucks.
Outside of these four brands, all others counted 3 percent or less in purchase intent, revealing a major gap between the leaders and other brands.
Looking year over year, the rates are quite consistent.
Likely to purchase
|Brand ||2012 (%) ||2011 (%) |
|Ford ||16 ||18 |
|Toyota || 14 ||12 |
|Chevrolet ||13 ||13 |
|Honda ||9 ||10 |
|Dodge ||3 ||3 |
|Nissan ||3 ||4 |
|BMW ||3 ||2 |
|Subaru ||3 ||2 |
|Buick ||3 ||3 |
|GMC ||2 ||2 |
|Hyundai ||2 ||3 |
|Cadillac ||2 ||1 |
Strong purchase-intent performance is aided by a high level of brand loyalty.
Each year, we also analyze the purchase intent among the most popular vehicles in the survey. Again, we find Toyota, Honda, Chevrolet, and Ford each with more than a 50-percent brand loyalty rating. All four brands remained relatively consistent, compared against last year, with just incremental adjustments.
Making a bigger move, Dodge loyalty fell by one fifth, with just 28 percent currently declaring intent to remain loyal. The shift is surprising, as we noted last year that Dodge had moved from 32 percent to 35 percent, surmising that its revitalized product line may have been a chief contributor. It is clear that something is not resonating as well with Dodge owners now. Given the tough economy, and increased interest in fuel economy, the lack of small, efficient vehicles in its product portfolio may be impacting Dodge loyalty. Perhaps the upcoming Dart and other Fiat-aided products can address that in the future.
Another brand to note: Volkswagen has seen its purchase intent double year over year, but it still comes in at just under 2 percent. While the results mark progress, this indicator suggests VW has a ways to go to be on the short list for American shoppers in order to fulfill its ambitious sales projections.
See the 2012 Car Brand Perception Survey for further findings.
For that annual survey, the Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a random, nationwide telephone survey of 2,045 adults from Dec. 1-5, 2011, and collected survey data from 1,702 adults in households that had at least one car.