If you're looking around for your next off-road vehicle or mulling over potential truck modifications, there's a good chance you might use your own personal opinions to influence your decision. Peer reviews, past experiences, media stories - all of these qualities may come together to impact what you think about a certain automaker. That perception has a major effect on the industry, so it is only logical that organizations would want to study it further.
Consumer Reports recently conducted a study on perception of auto brands. The publication asked the general public for opinions on different carmakers and then used the results to determine which companies stand out from the pack when it comes to perception.
"The key word is 'perception.' Consumers are influenced by word of mouth, marketing and hands-on experience," said Jeff Bartlett, deputy automotive editor of Consumer Reports. "Often, perception can be a trailing indicator, reflecting years of good or bad performance in a category, and it can also be influenced by headlines in the media."
People could have their opinions affected by major recalls, controversies, much-hyped new models or other events. Similarly, if there were big breakthroughs in technology or safety, it could have had a positive impact on how a brand was perceived. Ultimately, the opinion will largely be based on past driving experiences.
What drivers want
To complete the study, Consumer Reports focused on a few key areas that drivers deemed to be the most significant. At the top of the heap was quality, with 90 percent of respondents claiming it was in their top three most important factors. That narrowly edged out safety, which had 88 percent of the vote, and then performance, value and vehicle economy. Design and style, along with technology, were also key aspects, but didn't rank as highly as the others.
After all the votes were tallied, Consumer Reports found that Toyota took the No. 1 spot for most positive perception. It was considerably ahead of second-place Ford. Rounding out the top five were Honda, Chevrolet and Tesla.
While the results represent how people feel about cars in a wide variety of segments, it could extend to trucks and SUVs that are commonly used for off-roading. Ford has always been a favorite among adventurers, for example, which could be why its perception is so positive. On the other hand, Toyota has historically lagged behind its competitors with regard to truck sales, so some positive publicity could drum up interest in the vehicles.