Mazda wins best car brand honors in annual vehicle awards

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Hyundai, Dodge, Porsche, and Lexus also won awards for individual categories

What are the best vehicle brands or best certified pre-owned cars and trucks consumers should consider? The latest U.S. News & World Report’s vehicle awards have been announced, and it’s an interesting mix of imports, domestic-built vehicles, and trucks.

To determine the winners, U.S. News Best Cars panelists averaged the overall total scores of all a given brand's products in each award class with the brand receiving the highest overall average score being named the winner in the category. The overall scores the judges use come directly from the U.S. News Best Cars rankings, which are based on a combination of the consensus of the other automotive reviewers, safety scores, and reliability data.

The best vehicle brand winners

The Best Vehicle Brand awards evaluated 34 different brands and four categories -- luxury, truck, SUV, and cars. For the Best Certified Pre-Owned Program (CPO) award, the report looked for the CPO program that offers buyers the most benefits.

Here are this year’s best of the best:

Best Car Brand

U.S. News awarded Mazda the Best Car Brand award simply on the strength of the well-loved Mazda3, Mazda6, and Mazda MX-5 Miata. “All three models have top-notch performance that puts an emphasis on direct, sporty handling, as well as quality interiors that are more upscale than their price tags might suggest,” the judges wrote. Mazda’s getting used to winning. This is the sixth consecutive year the company has won this award.

Best SUV Brand

The review panel found a new winner for the SUV category this year -- the Hyundai SUVs (Tucson, Palisade, Santa Fe, et al). The judges said the lineup’s new take on sport utility vehicles did the trick. “With so many updated models, Hyundai SUVs win points for offering buyers the latest in driver assistance and infotainment technology at an affordable price.”

Best Truck Brand

The Dodge Ram won the Best Truck Brand award on the strength of its Ram 1500 model. Despite the reality that the Ram 1500 has become a frustration of several recalls, it got glowing marks from the judges because it functions as both a work vehicle and a daily driver. The panel gave several thumbs-up to Dodge for its “top-notch” infotainment system and interiors that are as good as the trim of luxury SUVs.

Best Luxury Brand

Another six-time winner is Porsche, which while pricey and thought of as more of a sports car, “offers a lineup of vehicles that effortlessly marry performance with upscale panache.” 

"Many buyers know the type of vehicle they want but not the best brands for their needs," says Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News Best Cars. "The Best Vehicle Brand awards point consumers to the brands that excel in producing the type of vehicle each buyer is interested in."

Best Certified Pre-Owned Program Winner

Lexus -- which only manages a 3.5 star rating from ConsumerAffair reviewers -- won its fourth straight Best Certified Pre-Owned Program award. The judges cited the brand’s lengthy warranty coverage, numerous program perks, and the dependability record of its pre-owned vehicles as main factors in its victory.

The Lexus CPO warranty includes coverage for up to two years, no mileage limit, and no deductible. Lexus CPO buyers are also given free roadside assistance and a free loaner car, not to mention four complimentary factory maintenance service visits in their first two years or 20,000 miles of ownership.

"Lexus has a well-deserved reputation for reliability that makes Lexus models appealing CPO cars," says Page Deaton. "On top of that record of dependability, Lexus offers used car buyers an excellent CPO warranty, as well as a long list of CPO program benefits, like free maintenance visits and a free loaner car."

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