Buying a Car based on Perception versus Reality

Consumer Reports recently issued a report about car brand perception versus reality with some very intriguing results. People had to rank based on seven crucial areas: safety, quality, value, performance, environmental friendliness, design, and technological innovation. Here’s what they had to say were the tops in those areas, along with their scores:

Brand perception – Top 5

1. Toyota – 193
2. Honda – 149
3. Ford – 109
4. Cadillac – 102
5. Mercedes-Benz – 100

Brand Perception – Bottom 5

5. Jeep – 21
4. Hummer – 19
3. Saab – 18
2. Mazda – 17
1. Suzuki – 7

Ok, I won’t disagree that I perceive most of those brands as high or low quality, but let’s see what their real reliability scores indicate as the best brands:

Real Brand Reliability – Top 10

As a note, these are results based on Consumer Report’s annual reader surveys and are not based on data directly from the service divisions of the automakers. That means these results are still a bit skewed, but at least are based on real data:

1. Scion
2. Acura
3. Honda
4. Toyota
5. Lexus
6. Infiniti
7. Subaru
8. Hyundai
9. Mitsubishi
10. Kia

Scion huh? Well, it’s run by Toyota, but many people still aren’t familiar enough with Scion products to rank them highly. Plus since they market to “budget shoppers”, people automatically think they’re lower quality.

The biggest surprises on the list are Hyundai and Kia. Apparently their public relations departments aren’t getting the word out to consumers. People still think of Hyundai as a cheap Honda knockoff, and most probably can’t spell the name correctly. Hopefully the new Hyundai Genesis will prove people wrong, as it continues to receive accolades for build quality and value.

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