This year's Australian Corporate Reputation Index, published by market research firm AMR, saw Mazda land in second - up from fifth in 2016 - to trail Air New Zealand, which climbed even further from sixth.
Other companies in the Strong category, outside of automotive, included JB Hi-Fi (last year's top scorer), Qantas, ING Direct, Apple, Samsung (third in 2016, now 14th) and Wesfarmers, among others.
Ford has never ranked particularly well, achieving no better than 20th, but Holden was positioned at seven in the 2012 rankings.
Nissan has previously featured, but has been absent from the list since 2015. In 2012, it ranked at 15, falling to 17 in 2013 and 20 in 2014.
AMR says its study measures overall reputation, while also factoring in the Australian consumer view on each company's products and services, innovation, workplace, citizenship, governance, leadership, and financial performance.
The study uses the IBIS World Top 2000 Company list to assess revenue, while all other data is drawn entirely from consumer surveys. Companies listed are not permitted to provide data or details of their own.
This year's full list can be found here. (Link opens in new tab.)
Listen to the CarAdvice team discuss this latest study below, and catch more like this at caradvice.com/podcast.