ECONOMY

Kelley Blue Book has announced the winners of its 2014 Brand Image Awards, which look at brands with "attributes that capture the attention and enthusiasm" of customers in the market for a new car.

The award is divided up into luxury brands and everyone else non-luxury brands, with a number of sub-awards in each group. There's also a single award for truck brands. Taking the crown for the best everyman brand (for the second year in a row) is Honda, while Mercedes-Benz was the king of the luxury brackets. Ford, meanwhile, had the best image among pickup buyers.

Honda was also named the most trusted brand among shoppers, while Kia, GMC, Mini and Chevrolet also snagged awards for value, refinement, performance and styling, respectively. Secondary winners in the luxury ranks include Lexus, Buick, Porsche and Jaguar. Mercedes was also named the most refined luxury brand.

"The classic saying 'perception is reality' falls true with the Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Awards, as more than 12,000 in-market new-car shoppers have voiced their opinions about today's automakers," said Hwei-Lin Oetken, vice president of market intelligence for KBB. "With strong marketing communications coming from auto manufacturers and dealers, and the increased importance of peer reviews and ratings, consumers today are more influenced than ever to take interest in a brand, ultimately affecting their vehicle purchase decisions."

Take a look below for KBB's video recap of this year's awards, as well as a press release detailing the winning attributes of each brand.

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Kelley Blue Book Announces 2014 Brand Image Award Winners
Honda Holds Reign for Best Overall Brand, Most Trusted Brand; Kia, GMC, Jaguar Win First Brand Image Awards

IRVINE, Calif., April 9, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2014 Brand Image Award winners, based on annual new-car buyer perception data, are announced today by Kelley Blue Book, www.kbb.com, the leading provider of new and used car information. The Kelley Blue Book® Brand Image Awards recognize automakers' outstanding achievements in creating and maintaining brand attributes that capture the attention and enthusiasm of the new-vehicle buying public. Award categories are calculated among luxury, non-luxury and truck shoppers.

"The classic saying 'perception is reality' falls true with the Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Awards, as more than 12,000 in-market new-car shoppers have voiced their opinions about today's automakers," said Hwei-Lin Oetken, vice president of market intelligence for Kelley Blue Book. "With strong marketing communications coming from auto manufacturers and dealers, and the increased importance of peer reviews and ratings, consumers today are more influenced than ever to take interest in a brand, ultimately affecting their vehicle purchase decisions."

2014 Brand Image Award Winners: Non-Luxury Brands

Honda
Best Overall Brand
Honda
Most Trusted Brand
Kia
Best Value Brand
GMC
Most Refined Brand
MINI
Best Performance Brand
Chevrolet
Best Car Styling Brand
2014 Brand Image Award Winner: Truck Brand

Ford
Best Overall Truck Brand
2014 Brand Image Award Winners: Luxury Brands

Mercedes-Benz
Best Overall Luxury Brand
Lexus
Most Trusted Luxury Brand
Buick
Best Value Luxury Brand
Mercedes-Benz
Most Refined Luxury Brand
Porsche
Best Performance Luxury Brand
Jaguar
Best Car Styling Luxury Brand
For two years running, Honda has been named the Best Overall Brand, securing the highest average scores among all 12 Brand Watch factors, including affordability, "cool" factor, driving comfort, driving performance, durability/reliability, exterior styling, fuel efficiency, interior layout, prestige/sophistication, reputation, ruggedness and safety (listed in alphabetical order). Strong consumer perception of the Accord, Civic, CR-V and Odyssey helped drive Honda's success in earning the top honor among all automakers.

This year, Mercedes-Benz captured the Best Overall Luxury Brand title from 2013 winner BMW by obtaining the top average Brand Watch factor scores among all luxury makes and being highly regarded with its strong lineup and performance AMG variants.

Reclaiming the top spot among truck shoppers, Ford ousts last year's winner, Toyota, from the Best Overall Truck Brand category. Ford has won five out of six times Kelley Blue Book has announced this award. The F-150 and Super Duty F-250 and F-350 helped the manufacturer earn back the award for 2014, as truck shoppers ranked the brand highest among all other truck brands.

For three years in a row, Honda has earned the award for Most Trusted Brand, and for 2014, the Accord, Civic, CR-V and Odyssey supported the boost in Honda's scores. Meanwhile, Lexus holds its ground as the Most Trusted Luxury Brand for the second consecutive year with help from the ES, IS, LX and RX models.

Kia earns its first-ever Brand Image Award in 2014 for Best Value Brand, taking the crown from last year's winner Honda. Kia received high marks on affordability and fuel efficiency, primarily driven by the Optima, Rio, Soul and Forte models. Buick is a repeat winner for the Best Value Luxury Brand, and the manufacturer's entire lineup, including the LaCrosse, Regal, Verano, Enclave and Encore, has positively influenced car shoppers' perceptions.

"Kia has come a long way in the eyes of the consumer," said Arthur Henry, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "Once known only as an economy car with good gas mileage, the brand has evolved through product growth and maturity into a high-value brand. This is a similar path fellow import brands Honda and Toyota took in the 1970s. In fact, Kia edges out Honda this year for the Best Value Brand title."

Benefitting from its upscale Denali trim models, GMC also wins its first Brand Image Award as 2014's Most Refined Brand, with high ratings for comfort, interior layout and prestige/sophistication. Mercedes-Benz has a second consecutive win for this category among luxury brands, and historically has scored very high in prestige/sophistication since the inception of the Brand Image Awards in 2008.

MINI wins Best Performance Brand for the second year in a row, with help from the MINI Cooper for its high ratings for "cool" factor and driving performance. Like MINI, Porsche holds steady as a repeat winner as Best Performance Luxury Brand since 2010, due to strong ratings for a number of models in its lineup, including the 911, Cayman, Panamera and Cayenne.

Jaguar earned its first Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Award as 2014 Best Car Styling Luxury Brand for its attractive F-TYPE, XK, XF and XJ series, while Chevrolet reclaimed the Best Car Styling Brand title from last year's winner Ford.

"Chevrolet had a slew of redesigns during the past year, which have captured the consideration of car shoppers," said Henry. "Chevrolet decided to take a daring approach with its styling and it paid off. The models primarily driving the success of Chevrolet's expressive design efforts are the Corvette Stingray and Camaro."

The 2014 Brand Image Awards are based on consumer automotive perception data from Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence's Brand Watch study. Brand Watch is an online brand and model perception tracking study tapping into 12,000+ in-market new-vehicle shoppers annually on Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com. The highly comprehensive study offers insight into how shoppers perceive important factors driving their purchase decisions, and captures brand/model familiarity and loyalty among new-car shoppers.

For more information about the 2014 Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Awards, please visit http://www.kbb.com/new-cars/brand-image-awards/.

For more information and news from Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com, visit www.kbb.com/media/, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kelleybluebook (or @kelleybluebook), like our page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kbb, and get updates on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/+kbb/.

About Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com)
Founded in 1926, Kelley Blue Book, The Trusted Resource®, is the only vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry. Each week the company provides the most market-reflective values in the industry on its top-rated website KBB.com, including its famous Blue Book® Trade-In and Suggested Retail Values, and Fair Purchase Price, which reports what others are paying for new cars this week. The company also provides vehicle pricing and values through various products and services available to car dealers, auto manufacturers, finance and insurance companies, and governmental agencies. Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc. is a subsidiary of AutoTrader Group, which includes AutoTrader.com, vAuto, VinSolutions and HomeNet Automotive. AutoTrader Group is a majority-owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises.