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Car Awards, What Do They Really Mean?

You've seen car commercials that boast about recent awards, but what do those awards really mean? You can find out in this article from Chrysler Factory Plans.

Spend an hour watching television these days and you're likely to see a myriad of automobile commercials. Chances are most of those ads are going to name-drop some fancy, prestigious award that has been bestowed upon the vehicle by some organization, such as J.D. Power and Associates or Motor Trend magazine. But what do these awards really mean, and how are they awarded to automakers and their products? Should buyers take these awards as an actual hallmark of excellence or is this just a marketing ploy designed to attract consumers and their checkbooks?

The answer is both. Awards are nice, but why should you care when you walk on the lot to buy a vehicle? Let's take a look at a few of the most popular and well-known automotive industry awards that car companies mention the most. It's likely you have heard of all of these awards but you're not quite sure who's issuing them or why? We have some answers for you, so the next time one of those car commercials mentions a fancy-sounding award, you can tell what the award really means when it comes to finding a truly reliable product lauded by a trustworthy organization.

J.D. Power and Associates

This is the award name probably most recognized and mentioned of all car awards. J.D. Power and Associates is a marketing company that issues a multitude of awards in various categories from automobiles to homes to electronics. In the category of automobiles, the firm compiles consumer opinions from a predetermined sample size for a range of criteria, including new car dependability, dealer service, buyer experience, third-party websites, and satisfaction of ownership, just to name a few. The company then sells the results of their surveys to the auto companies that wish to include the award as part of their advertising campaign. So, while the award is given based on consumer opinion, you could also consider it a marketing ploy as well.

Motor Trend

Motor Trend is a monthly automotive magazine, considered to be the most popular and trusted publication covering every aspect of the industry. The magazine gives out its Car of the Year award symbolized by the Golden Calipers trophy, which manufacturers usually predominantly display in commercials for the vehicle that won it. Since Motor Trend magazine is a highly-respected publication, the award comes with some influential prestige because the vehicles are judged on performance capabilities and not consumer opinion.

Kelley Blue Book

The Kelley Blue Book, also known as KBB, is the industry standard by which all cars are valued for an appraisal at the time of sale. The organization identifies its Best Buy awards based upon a range of qualifying criteria from fuel efficiency to the rate of depreciation in order to judge which vehicles are the best value for consumers. Similar to Motor Trend, consumers can take comfort in knowing that an award from KBB is presented on the strength of stringent standards that analyze every vehicle's fact-based ratings of safety, quality, value, and performance. Neither Motor Trend nor Kelley Blue Book charge automotive companies for mentioning their awards in advertising. For more information, see the article How Accurate is Kelley Blue Book?

Edmunds’ Awards

Based on Edmunds' combination of proprietary data and insights from Edmunds’ extensive vehicle testing and rating process, the Sana Monica, California, company selects Top Rated Vehicles each year. Their primary focus is to help inform consumers about best-in-class vehicles. The criteria for selecting Edmunds' Top Rated Awards include performance, comfort, technology, fuel economy and value. Edmunds' categorizes Best Cars as SUVs, family cars, sedans, towing and off-road trucks, electric cars, hybrid, sport and fuel mileage. The Edmunds' editorial team provides shoppers with in-depth vehicle reviews, automotive market insights, shopping tips and car research.

Car and Driver

Car and Driver annual awards cut through the crowded market of more than 300 cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans to find the 10 that live up to their purpose while delivering incredible value and a great driving experience.

Since 1983, Car and Driver 10Best award represents a broad automotive perspective for drivers. Each year several new vehicles are added to the list of favorites, which means a few of each past year's winners vanquish from the 10Best list. What makes the award different from other awards is that a vehicle can earn and then maintain a position on the list year after year. A 10Best nod also ensures that the cars, trucks (such as the Ram 1500) and SUVs so honored aren’t just the best of what’s new but the best of what’s for sale at less than that year’s base-price cutoff.

For two full weeks, former winners face new cars and trucks. After driving, probing, climbing into third rows, opening trunks, learning infotainment systems, doing instrumented testing, and taking diligent notes, reporters score each vehicle on a 100-point scale. The cars, trucks and SUVs that emerge all have something unique, a special power that makes them better than the rest.

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