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IRVINE, Calif. — On Thursday, Kelley Blue Book rolled out its 2010 Brand Image Awards, which honor the brands that consumers perceive to be the best when it comes to certain qualities or attributes — such as comfort, performance, family-friendliness and prestige, just to name few categories.

The awards, which are in their third year, honor automakers in nine categories and are based consumer perception data via KBB Market Intelligence Brand Watch study.

"Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence data, and the Brand Watch study in particular, can provide manufacturers with a unique perspective into the minds of how in-market new-car shoppers view their brand," stated James Bell, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book and kbb.com. 

"Much too often, brands take a 'shotgun' approach and offer several different marketing messages over time rather than focusing on the one or two that best resonate with the audience," he added. "The Brand Image Awards, chosen by in-market car buyers, honor the brands that were successful in communicating a cohesive message across their vehicles and raising the profile of their overall brand image."

Leading the pack, as far as overall awards, was Porsche, which took home three (Coolest Brand, Best Performance Brand, Best Exterior Design Brand — Luxury). 

"These are very important awards, because they are based on what consumers think about our brand," stated Detlev von Platen, Porsche Cars North America president and chief executive officer. "It's great to reaffirm that consumers have such a high opinion of Porsche, especially since it comes from Kelley Blue Book — a company consumers really trust for accurate and objective vehicle information."

Ford and Lexus each won in two categories, while Chevrolet and Mercedes-Benz earned one award apiece.

Offering his commentary on the Brand Image Awards, Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for KBB and Kbb.com, noted: "If you believe the marketing credo ‘perception is reality,' then you cannot help but be encouraged about the prospects of the winners of Kelley Blue Book's 2010 Brand Image Awards.

"The brands included on this elite list have convinced the car-buying public at large of the considerable virtues of their vehicles, and that correlates well with success in the crowded automotive marketplace," he added.

The list of winners, with editorial commentary included, is as follows:

Best Comfort Brand: Lexus

"Known from the very beginning for their quiet, comfortable highway rides, Lexus vehicles continue to offer more and more occupant-coddling amenities. Combined with renowned reliability and consistently high dealership ratings, the Lexus brand delivers a relaxing ownership experience."

Best Performance Brand: Porsche

"Porsche is an automaker so uniquely focused on performance that when it announced it had an SUV in the works, it sparked disbelief, confusion and even anger in some circles. The dust from that disturbance settled years ago, and Porsche continues to design and build cars (and SUVs) that deliver a unique driving experience built not just on numbers, but on feel.  he new four-door Panamera only adds to the mystique."

Most Rugged Truck Brand: Ford

"When the Ford F-150 was named Most Rugged Truck Brand in 2009, we noted that it had been the best-selling vehicle in the country for 27 years in a row. Make it 28 years in a row and another Brand Image Award.  And while the newest F-150 is surely the toughest yet, it's also the smoothest-riding and most feature-packed Ford pickup in history. "

Most Family-Friendly Brand: Ford

"In 2009, Ford attracted a lot of attention and accolades with a slew of family-style vehicles like the redesigned Fusion, three-row Flex crossover and a new, more relevant version of one of the all-time great family sedans — the Taurus.  Combined with world-class reliability ratings, the Ford product renaissance is proving especially popular with families." 

Coolest Brand: Porsche

"In 2009, the Brand Image Awards for Coolest Brand, Best Performance Brand and Best Exterior Design Brand (Luxury) went to one automaker: BMW. This year, all three again go to one automaker: Porsche. Performance and cool have forever gone hand in hand, and Porsche's uncompromising, laser-like focus on driver enjoyment makes its cars distinctively desirable."

Best Exterior Design Brand — Luxury: Porsche

"When your lineup includes the most iconic design in the history of the automobile, you get an automatic bid into any design conversation. The same evolutionary approach that's helped turn the 911 into a legend carries through the lineup, as Porsche continues to eschew design fads or gimmicks in favor of confident consistency."

Best Exterior Design Brand — Non-Luxury: Chevrolet

"Chevy's designers are on a roll. The styling renaissance that started with the latest Tahoe SUV and continued with the current Malibu sedan continues to evolve in the form of new cars like the Chevy Equinox crossover, Chevy Traverse three-row crossover and, of course, the new Chevy Camaro. Even the Corvette looks better than it has in decades. Backed up by a newfound, pervasive feeling of quality, we wouldn't be surprised to see Chevy win more Brand Image Awards in the coming years."

Best Interior Design Brand: Lexus

"Lexus interiors aren't extravagant, plush or boundary-pushing, but the fit, finish and attention to detail deliver long-term allure. Clean, comfortable and simple define the typical Lexus interior, which remains user-friendly even as it continues to host more and more technology.

Best Prestige Brand: Mercedes-Benz

"Kelley Blue Book visitors have named Mercedes-Benz the Best Prestige Brand three years in a row, and we suspect the streak will continue for the foreseeable future. While its competitors push varying combinations of performance, precision and style, Mercedes-Benz remains the luxury brand of luxury brands."