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Auto Branding: Hold That Thought, You Might Be Wrong

2008 Saturn Aura
2008 Saturn Aura

Just for a minute, I want you to block out the opinions you have about certain auto brands. So if you always see BMW's as refined and stylish, stop. Or if you think Hyundai's are overrated, hold it. OK, now that you have a clear mind, think about this: Saturn, Suzuki, and Buick are changing their acts and are increasingly being seen in a positive light by car buyers.

I can already hear what you are saying, " yeah right. If Buick is rebounding, prove it." Well, the proof is in the latest research from CNW marketing. According to the newest survey on buyer attitudes, positive feelings about the Saturn brand among men are up 93 percent. Suzuki positives are up 30.5 percent and Buick improves 21 percent among men. For woman, Mazda positives have skyrocketed 45.5 percent, Buick has jumped 23.2 percent, and Saab's positives improved 17.5 percent.

What does all of this mean?

For Buick it's further proof that the Enclave SUV is connecting with buyers, and showing that a hot car goes further than a hot celebrity endorsement like Tiger Woods. Saturn is a similar story: New models means new attitudes. And for Suzuki, this shows the company may finally be shedding it's "also ran" image.

What about the overall winner when it comes to brand image? Porsche. According to CNW it has a positive image with 87 percent of the men and women surveyed. BMW is also in the top three for both guys and girls. So, now, if you had that image of BMW's being refined and stylish, you may go back to those original thoughts.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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