Automakers wield some of the most powerful and valuable brands in the world, and they spend billions of dollars each year building and protecting those reputations. Representing the combined wisdom of the American car-buying public, the 11th annual Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Awards recognize automakers' outstanding achievements in creating and maintaining brand attributes that engender enthusiasm among new-vehicle buyers.

This isn't just a quick poll or online survey based on how someone feels at that moment. The Brand Image Awards are based on insights collected via our annual Brand Watch study, which taps into more than 12,000 in-market new-vehicle shoppers annually who do their research at KBB.com.

Our annual Brand Image Awards include 13 brand winners across seven categories, providing guidance for just about every type of car buyer, from performance seekers to value shoppers. The trophies are presented to the winning automakers on the floor of the New York Auto Show.

The Brand Image Awards recognize top mainstream and luxury brands in each of six categories, plus one winner in the truck segment.

 

Best Mainstream Brands in 2018

Best Overall Brand: Honda

Honda returns to the top spot this year on the strength of one of the freshest, most impressive vehicle lineups in the entire industry. It's familiar territory for the automaker, which claimed this year’s Best Value Brand and Most Refined Brand trophies, too. By providing buyers with well-built, hassle-free transportation for the past several decades, Honda has built a world-famous reputation for quality and reliability.

Most Trusted Brand: Subaru

Subaru's recipe for building affordable, dependable vehicles with all-weather grip and high safety standards has turned ordinary buyers into devout followers. Makers of long-lasting vehicles that can go more places with more confidence, it's easy to see why KBB.com visitors have named Subaru their Most Trusted Brand for the fourth year in a row.

Best Value Brand: Honda

Combining a well-documented reputation for reliability, outstanding resale values and a uniquely appealing brand of refinement, it should surprise exactly no one that Honda has claimed the Best Value Brand award four years in a row, and seven of the past eight. And value is a powerful motivator in the new-car market. A perennial sales success, many of Honda’s vehicles are among the best-sellers in their respective segments.

Most Refined Brand: Honda

Of the three Rs that define Honda -- reliability, resale value and refinement -- the last one is perhaps the hardest to grasp but also the most critical. While competitors continue to close the gap in reliability and resale value, Honda’s unique brand of refinement remains unmatched. Few mainstream automakers seem to pay quite as much attention to the little things, and even fewer do it with such success.

Best Performance Brand: Mazda

The Mazda3 and Mazda6 are arguably the most fun-to-drive cars in their segments. The same can be said for the CX-3, CX-5 and CX-9 SUVs. And the endlessly entertaining MX-5 Miata roadster is in a class of one. Needless to say, this is a deserving win for Mazda. And they look the part, too, with Mazda also claiming this year’s style honors.

Best Styling Brand: Mazda

From the Mazda3 compact car to the CX-9 three-row SUV, it’s not hard to argue that Mazda makes the best-looking vehicle in every segment where it competes. And the beauty is more than skin deep, with interiors that combine high-quality materials with tasteful minimalism and just the right amount of contemporary detailing. Buyers who insist that form follow function will be pleased to know that Mazda is also this year’s Best Performance Brand.

Best Overall Truck Brand: Ford

The F-Series has been the best-selling truck line in the country for more than 40 years, so the fact that KBB.com visitors would name Ford the Best Overall Truck Brand isn't surprising. But the automaker isn’t resting on its laurels. The 2018 Ford F-150 is the most innovative truck on the market, mixing an advanced architecture with a long list of useful features and technologies.

 

Best Luxury Brands in 2018

Best Overall Luxury Brand: Lexus

For the third year in a row, our top luxury award goes to a brand built on quality from day one. While style and emotion are growing facets of the brand’s appeal, it’s the renowned reliability, top-notch dealership experience and class-leading resale values that continue to earn Lexus all the awards, accolades and devoted repeat buyers.

Most Trusted Luxury Brand: Lexus

The year’s Best Overall Luxury Brand is also the Most Trusted Luxury Brand, two trophies that Lexus takes home for the third year in a row. A commitment to dependability has helped define the brand since it launched as Toyota's luxury division nearly three decades ago, and that laser-like focus has helped build a loyal following and high levels of trust throughout the marketplace.

Best Value Luxury Brand: Buick

As quiet and comfortable as ever, the Buick lineup continues to grow more contemporary and more luxurious with each new generation. Priced and positioned between popular mainstream and upscale luxury brands, Buick offers the best of both worlds for buyers more interested in enjoying the features and amenities of a luxury car than owning the fanciest badge.

Most Refined Luxury Brand: Mercedes-Benz

From the elegant exterior designs to the richly appointed interiors to underlying vehicle architectures steeped in cutting-edge technology backed by more than a century of experience, Mercedes-Benz vehicles embody sophistication in all its forms. Mercedes-Benz isn’t just this year’s Most Refined Luxury Brand in the automotive space, it’s one of the most established and respected brands in the world.

Best Performance Luxury Brand: Porsche

Porsche has now won this award seven years in a row, and there seems to be no end in sight. Few brands are as synonymous with anything as Porsche is with performance. Even as the lineup continues to expand to include more sedans and SUVs, the automaker has done a masterful job maintaining the brand’s storied mystique. And not with clever ads and big marketing spends, but with vehicles that continue to back up the brand promise. At every turn.

Best Styling Luxury Brand: Jaguar

Sultry styling is engrained in Jaguar’s rich heritage, and it’s alive and well in its dynamic lineup of cars -- and now, SUVs -- today. From the gorgeous F-Type coupe and convertible to the new F-Pace SUV, Jaguar’s modern design ethos marries performance and beauty like few others. The fluid lines and bold designs are unmistakably Jaguar, helping it win this trophy for the fourth time in the past five years.

 

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