The intense publicity surrounding Toyota's recent recalls seems to be having a pronounced effect on the company's image among its current customers. That's the news from a recent follow-up to the Consumer Reports 2010 Car Brand Perception Survey. Among consumers who drive a Toyota regularly, 60% said they would most likely purchase a Toyota the next time they are in the market for a new car. That's down 10% points from the December 2009 survey. As a result, Toyota slipped behind Honda, while loyalty for Chevrolet and Ford changed little among owners.

To provide a snapshot of how public perceptions of Toyota are shifting in light of its cascading safety recalls, the Consumer Reports National Research Center repeated part of the 2010 Car Brand Perception Survey. For this follow up, a random, nationwide telephone survey was conducted over February 4-8 of 1,832 adults who said that their household owns a vehicle.

Despite the attention Toyota has received due to safety concerns, the overall impact on the brand integrity in the eyes of the consumer was less than one may have anticipated, though admittedly this is a developing situation. Among the top brands, purchase intent among all consumers changed by a notable amount between the two surveys for only one brand; Toyota registered a decline of nearly 4% points. The change was similar between genders, but purchase intent declined more among respondents aged 18 to 44 years old than those aged 45 and over.

Even with this modest decline, Toyota purchase intent among all respondents remains greater than all brands except Ford (17%) and Chevrolet (14%).

While brand loyalty among current owners has declined, it remains greater than other popular makes, including Chevrolet (52%), Ford (51%), and Dodge (28%). Notably, Dodge owners are less likely to purchase another vehicle from that brand than in December, at 28% versus 32%.