(USA TODAY) -- Think that all cars are looking or seeming more alike? You've got company.
Toyota remains the top brand among Americans surveyed. But consumers say the differences between the top car brands are shrinking, according to a survey by Consumer Reports magazine's National Research Center.
Toyota, Ford, Honda and Chevrolet maintain their top positions in the latest annual survey of automotive perception, but the points between them have narrowed. And most of them fell in their point totals.
The Consumer Reports 2012 Car-Brand Perception Survey scores reflect how consumers perceive each brand in seven categories: safety, quality, value, performance, environmentally friendly/green, design/style and technology/innovation.
"Dramatic events in the automotive industry seem to be affecting how consumers view auto brands. Erratic gasoline prices and a struggling economy have pushed consumers to prize low operating costs and good reliability," said Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports deputy editor for autos online.
Toyota continues to dominate overall in brand perception, although it slipped a significant 17 points, compared with last year's survey results. Other top brands, Ford, Honda and BMW, saw their scores drop more than 20 points. The two leading General Motors brands, Cadillac and Chevrolet, did relatively better with only single-digit decreases.
By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY