Consumer Reports just released the results of its brand perception survey for 2014, ranking Toyota, Ford, Honda, and Chevrolet head-and-shoulders above the rest of the top 10.
The magazine’s top four automakers remained in the same positions as last year although Toyota and Ford – the top two – dropped by a few points while Honda and Chevrolet both got small bumps. Those four led the total top 10 by a wide margin, each scoring over 100 points.
But the biggest story is arguably that Tesla bumped Mercedes-Benz out of fifth place by leaping from its 10th-place, 55-point score last year to 88 in 2014. Mercedes gained over its previous score, but fell to seventh place behind Subaru.
It was a banner year for Tesla with record-setting sales topping the company’s predictions. Its stock soared, baffling Wall Street analysts even while CEO and co-founder Elon Musk caused a string of controversies serious enough to make seasoned auto executives toes curl.
Last year, Dodge sat just above Tesla with 57 points but dropped from the 2014 list entirely. Subaru was the only newcomer.
Jaguar, Maserati and Land Rover made up the three worst of the bottom 10. Maserati is working to bolster its image this year, seeking greater sales volume. Its new Ghibli sedan is aimed at cars like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class as a new entry-level model. The move comes as BMW executives acknowledge a need for even smaller products for future gains in the luxury market, but Maserati is still going all-in. The company released a surprise Super Bowl ad last weekend; a high-profile publicity stunt for a car that few consumers recognize.
Tata-owned Jaguar and Land Rover made up the other bottom spots with Jag dragging the worst of all. Just like Maserati, the British luxury brand will reach for greater sales volume soon with a compact sedan set to fight the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. The losers list isn’t filled exclusively with expensive brands, either. Scion, Ram, MINI, Mitsubishi and Jeep all ranked among the worst 10.