Ford logo - ford and toyotaA day after the influential Consumer Reports dented Ford Motor Company with its findings that the automaker's new MyTouch on-board electronics system was balky and distracting, it said that its readers ranked the U.S. automaker as equal with with Japanese automaker Toyota in how positively they perceive the brands.

Toyota scored 147 points in CR's 2011 Car Brand Perception Survey, while Ford received 144 points, a margin the magazine called a "statistical dead heat" given the margin of error in surveys. The magazine, which is widely read by car buyers, said Ford had made strides in safety, quality and value, three key parts of the survey.Ford has also benefited from the fact that it did not require a taxpayer bailout in 2009 when the Federal government took control of Ford's cross-town rivals General Motors and Chrysler.

Toyota and Ford were followed by Honda Motor Co., which scored 121 points, General Motors' Chevrolet brand with 102 points and German luxury brand BMW with 93 points. Mercedes-Benz finished sixth with 90 points, followed by Volvo with 84 points, Toyota's Lexus brand with 69 points, GM's Cadillac brand with 66 points and Subaru with 50 points.

Toyota, the world's No. 1 automaker based on sales, has struggled the last year with a series of headline-grabbing safety recalls. CR said the survey reflected the recalls' impact on the company's image. Toyota had a substantial lead over Ford in last year's survey, the magazine said.

One of the main reasons Toyota has held on to the top spot in the magazine's survey is its high scores for manufacturing environmentally friendly vehicles, especially the Prius Hybrid. The Prius is by far the most successful gas-electric hybrid vehicle in the world, so much so that Toyota plans to introduce additional hybrid models under the Prius brand.

Ford scored highest for value and was among the leaders in several categories, including safety, quality and environmentally friendly considerations.

The random nationwide telephone survey was conducted Dec. 2-6, 2010, by CR's National Research Center. The survey contacted 2,109 adults, and collected data from 1,721 adults in households that had at least one car.

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