We may not always understand how Nielsen gets its survey data, but the results are usually pretty interesting.
Case in point: Nielsen's online division--cleverly named Nielsen Online--and its new Brand Advocacy Quotient research. By collecting data from blogs (like this one!), message boards, fan sites, complaint sites, and, we assume, major social networks like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Nielsen Online has begun compiling online-specific rankings for cars.
Nielsen doesn't share the specifics of its research strategies, but if we're reading this PDF correctly, it appears that auto brands are assigned scores in five categories: price, quality, reputation, specific personal experience, and value. Presumably, Nielsen scores brands each time they're mentioned online, with marks ranging from 100% negative to 100% positive.
Not surprisingly, at the top of the current heap we find Toyota, thanks largely to its high approval ratings in quality, value, and reputation. Toward the bottom of the pile: Hyundai (#28), which may have problems at the dealership level, given its number of complaints about specific personal experiences.
Curious about how Big Three brands stood up to the challenge? They came in as follows: Cadillac (#10), GMC (#12), Chevrolet (#15), Jeep (#16), Lincoln (#17), Saturn (#18), Mercury (#21), Pontiac (#22), Chrysler (#23), Buick (#24), Ford (#25), and Dodge (#27). And at the very bottom: Isuzu (#31). Poor Isuzu. It's okay, they can't hurt you anymore.