Consumer Reports said Toyota Motor Corp.
held the top place as the best overall brand in its annual Car-Brand Perception Survey, followed by Ford Motor Co.
Third-place Honda jumped 26 points to 114 points to close within 4 points of Ford, followed by General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet brand, Daimler's Mercedes-Benz brand and Volvo. The top six brands overall finished in the same rank order as in 2012.
The scores — based on a survey — reflect how consumers perceive each brand in seven categories: quality, safety, value, performance, design/style, technology/innovation and environmentally friendly/green.
Combining those factors gives Consumer Reports the total brand-perception score. "This past year brought stability and increased sales to much of the automotive industry.
"Yet, the brand awareness scores for some like BMW, Buick and Hyundai have declined," said Jeff Bartlett, deputy auto editor online, for Consumer Reports.
"The data shows that it has become harder for companies to compete for share of mind. Consumers are not seeing as much differentiation between brands as they have in the past."
Quality and safety remain the top two car-buying factors for consumers, followed closely by value and performance.
Chrysler's Dodge brand made the top 10 brand list this year (ninth), jumping 23 points to boot Toyota's luxury brand Lexus off the list.
Dodge scored 56 overall, compared with Lexus' 50.
Dodge did not score at the top of any one category, but the magazine said the brand had modest gains in numerous categories.
Also in the top 10 was Cadillac at seventh, followed by BMW and Tesla in 10th.
The worst brand rankings were Toyota's Scion, tied with Mitsubishi with a score of 6, followed by Chrysler's truck brand Ram at 7 and Fiat at 8. Rounding out the lowest 10 are Mini, Land Rover, Jaguar, Mazda, Jeep and Porsche.