Before you scoff at the idea that you could be so easily influenced by something of such relatively little importance, keep in mind what goes into making a car company's rep. It's not all "James Bond drives this" and "eco-conscious people drive that." A lot of what impacts our opinion of car makers boils down to plain old safety. For example, we bet you'd never willingly buy a car from a company with an abysmal safety rating, no matter how cool, stylish, and cheap their cars were.
With this in mind, let's look at some of the best and worst automaker reputations.
Manufacturers With Bad Reputations:
Ford has had a rough year in the recall department. Earlier this month, the American auto giant recalled 370,000 cars for a steering shaft defect that could result in users losing control of their cars.
So far, no incidents or injuries have been reported, but as recalls go, the only thing worse than a defect that potentially removes the driver's ability to drive is one that makes the car explode.
Actually, since Ford India just recalled over 160,000 cars for a faulty part that can cause fires, we'd say the beleaguered company is pretty close.
Small cars are back, thanks to high fuel prices, environmental concerns, and city-bound consumers who need wheels that won't take up two parking spaces. For all these reasons, everyone should have been psyched to see Fiat reclaim its footprint in the U.S.
But not so fast. The Car Connection says:
Italy's Fiat hasn't even been back on the U.S. market for long, but it's starting in the basement. As ALG points out, the brand will have to erase distant memories of terrible vehicles from the 1970s before it can convince legions of American buyers that the stylish, entertaining 2012 Fiat 500 subcompact is worth its $15,500 base price. Fiat earned the lowest score in the most recent PQS, at 37.5.
Manufacturers With Good Reputations:
The German automaker isn't immune to recalls – just last week, the company recalled over 130,000 cars for a faulty taillight issue.
Still, overall, the company has a reputation for quality and craftsmanship, and their brand is associated with a certain high-roller lifestyle that remains attractive, even after years of a rough economy (perhaps even because of it).
In fact, BMW has one of the highest reputations of any company – not just auto makers. Forbes recently rated it one of top companies for customer service.
Toyota has one of the most consistently-high reputations among its customers (and potential customers). Old-standby models like the Camry continue to get high marks from reviewers, while newer innovations like the hybrid Prius woo environmentally-concious consumers.
The bottom line when it comes to a good reputation for car manufacturers? Impressing that loyal customer base, while bringing in new customers with eco-friendly models – and keeping those recalls down to a bare minimum.
Images: Wikimedia Common