Toyota has had to ask for vehicles back en masse for minor fixes in recent weeks, the latest coming Monday for brake light switch brackets on its Sienna minivans. But that hasn't killed people's ardor for the brand. The automaker has taken the top spot in as the most-considered auto brand among new-car shoppers in Kelley Blue Book's (KBB.com) Market Intelligence Brand Watch study.
Toyota, which held forth as the most considered automaker since KBB started doing its Marketing Intelligence Brand Watch in 2007, had dropped to No. 2 starting late last year through June during its recall. That made room for Ford to take the lead spot.
KBB says besides being the most-considered auto brand, Toyota in the third quarter was also the most-considered brand for cars, crossovers SUVs, while consideration for Toyota Tundra and Tacoma trucks are also up.
Ford was the second most-considered brand in the study based on online surveys of 2,700 in-market new-car shoppers at kbb.com in July and September this year. After Ford came Honda, Chevrolet, Nissan and Hyundai.
But Toyota is not leading by much. The study shows there is a gap of only one percentage point of consideration separating Toyota, Ford and Honda. Kelley Blue Book says Hyundai, which topped Nissan for the No. 5 spot in the second quarter dropped to sixth place while Nissan's consideration rose three percentage points.
Ford was the most-considered truck brand, with what KBB calls a dramatic increase in consideration since the second quarter. Honda stayed on as the most-considered minivan brand, though Chrysler and Dodge, which launched the minivan segment in the first place, saw a slight uptick in consideration the quarter versus the second quarter. Mitsubishi was on the list as the top-rated brand for cool factor/vehicle image.
"The latest Brand Watch data from Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence indicates that Toyota is slowly recovering from its public-perception crisis and regaining a position of prominence in the minds of new-car shoppers," said James Bell, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com, in a statement. He says strong offerings from the other lead brands are not going to make it easy for Toyota to remain the most-considered brand.
The most important factor driving brand consideration is durability and reliability, according to KBB. After that comes fuel efficiency, driving comfort, driving performance and safety.
The firm says that in consideration of the non-luxury SUV/CUV segment, both Nissan and Jeep saw their levels of consideration grow versus the prior quarter. Subaru for the first time was top-ranked brand among the importance factors of safety and versatility/flexibility.
In the luxury auto segment, the top brand for cars was BMW, followed by Lexus, Audi, Acura and Mercedes-Benz. For overall luxury brands, regardless of vehicle type Lexus was the most-considered brand in the third quarter. Second through fifth place were Acura, Cadillac, Lincoln and BMW.