Ford Gains On Toyota In 'Consumer Reports' Survey

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Ford Motor Company has risen almost to the top of an annual brand perception survey by Consumer Reports. The Detroit automaker is now just behind Toyota, after its years-long effort to improve quality coincided with devastating recalls by Toyota.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The Ford Motor Company continues to accelerate, at least in one influential ranking. A new survey by Consumer Reports places Ford just a hair behind Toyota as the top car brand.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports.

TRACY SAMILTON: According to Consumer Reports, car owners perceive the Ford brand as nearly equal to the Toyota brand, and on key factors of safety, quality and value, they rank Ford better than Toyota. Ford also was best non-luxury brand in a recent J.D. Power survey.

Jesse Toprak is an analyst with TrueCar.com.

Mr. JESSE TOPRAK (Analyst, TrueCar.com): This was long-term planning that is now paying off.

SAMILTON: Toprak says Ford set its sights on catching up to Toyota more than four years ago. The company took out a huge loan that it used to get through the recession without government help and to improve its cars.

Mr. TOPRAK: If you look at Ford's product portfolio now, it is the best they've ever made, not even close to anything else they've ever made in the past.

SAMILTON: As for Toyota, no one expects the company to just relinquish its crown as the quality leader without a fight.

Dave Sullivan, an analyst with AutoPacific, thinks Toyota eventually will recover.

Mr. DAN SULLIVAN (Analyst, AutoPacific): People that have a Toyota love a Toyota, want to buy another Toyota. But people that don't are scared of going after Toyota because of all the recalls. And the recalls haven't stopped.

SAMILTON: Ford says it will keep up the pressure. The company plans to introduce several new vehicles this year.

For NPR News, I'm Tracy Samilton in Ann Arbor.

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