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http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Columns/articleId=107524

Steven Cole Smith of Edmunds.com said:
It's Never Too Early to Predict the Inevitable "Car/Truck of the Year" Vehicle Winners
Date Posted: 10-10-2005

We love "…of the Year" pronouncements, don't we? Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Tonys — even people: Miss America is essentially "Best Unmarried, Socially Conscious, Swimsuit-Wearing Woman of the Year," right?

So perhaps it's time — or ahead of time, really, but we're often absurdly ahead of the curve here at Inside Line — to start thinking about the "Of the Year" vehicles for 2006. One organization has already begun the deliberations: The North American Car (and Truck) of the Year (NACOTY) jury, a conglomeration of about 50 automotive journalists, has just released their short list of candidates.

I say "they," but in the interest of full disclosure, it's more like "we," as I am a juror, as are my columnist colleagues, Michelle Krebs and Ken Gross. Right there, you have a suggestion of just how diversified this group is. Ken is inarguably one of America's leading automotive historians. Strolling with Ken through a vintage car show is a sobering experience. We'd walk by a car and Ken would say, "A 1941 Graham Hollywood 'perfect restoration?' Not with that headlight nacelle!" I would nod and say, "Yes! How absurd!"

Meanwhile, Michelle has dedicated herself to the complex and troubling inner workings of the Detroit-and-beyond automobile business, something I try to distance myself from. I do not want to know how the sausage is made.

And what do I bring to the party? Sheer bulk and a lovely singing voice.

Anyway: The NACOTY jury comes at its selections from a lot of different perspectives. Here's the short list for 2006, from which the Car and Truck of the Year will be selected. And you can be pretty sure that all the other "Of the Year" awards, be they from Motor Trend or Car and Driver, will come from this list, too.

AND THE NOMINEES ARE:

Cars: Audi A3, BMW 3 Series, Chevrolet HHR, Dodge Charger, Ford Fusion, Honda Civic/Civic Si/Civic Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata, Infiniti M35/45, Lexus IS 250/350, Mazda Miata MX-5, Mercedes-Benz R-Class, Pontiac Solstice, Toyota Avalon and Volkswagen Passat.

Trucks: Dodge Ram/Ram Mega Cab, Ford Explorer, Honda Ridgeline, Hummer H3, Jeep Commander, Kia Sportage, Lexus RX 400h, Mercedes M-Class, Nissan Xterra, Range Rover Sport, Subaru B9 Tribeca, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Toyota RAV4 and Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

When the awards are announced in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, there will be a winner and two runners-up in both categories.

Each of the vehicles will have champions; I mean, somewhere there's always a critic who likes Vin Diesel movies and Clay Aiken albums, right? But there are some undeniable front-runners on the NACOTY list.

Carwise, there isn't a bad vehicle in the bunch. What Chevrolet has done with the HHR is commendable, especially at its bargain-basement base price. The BMW 3 Series is superb, but it — as with the Infiniti, Lexus, Toyota and Volkswagen entries — updates an already good vehicle. Same thing with the Hyundai Sonata, but that car, at its price, is a quantum leap forward, as opposed to just a leap. Ditto the Honda Civic, especially the Si version, and the Mazda Miata MX-5. The Pontiac Solstice, for my money, is a brave indication of what General Motors in general, Bob Lutz in particular, can do when everyone sings in harmony. Same thing with the Ford Fusion, albeit in a less dramatic presentation.

At this point, I think the Solstice deserves it, but I retain the right to change my mind.
Truckwise: I'd expect the final four to come down to the Honda Ridgeline, Lexus RX 400h, Jeep Commander and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. I'd include the Hummer H3, a far better vehicle than any of us were expecting, but I'm not sure it's the Year of the Hummer. My colleagues like the Commander and Ridgeline better than I do, but everyone seems reasonably taken with the Lexus. Fuel mileage may not be as good as the public expects from a hybrid, but if you look hard at the technology in this vehicle — and how seamlessly it works — it's impossible to discount it. The Lexus RX 400h is arguably the most complex vehicle ever offered to the public, and it's a project only Toyota, and its spare-no-expense budget, could pull off.

I'd probably give it my top vote, but I suspect the Ridgeline is the favorite.

But that's just me — a man who bought a 1991 Mercury Capri, new. And liked it. What do I know?
 

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I really hope people realize the Solstice SHOULD win these awards... because it is absolutely REVOLUTIONARY and segment-moving compared to the "upgrades" of everything else.
 

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Solstice, Car of the Year? But how can this be? I thought Edmunds stated the MX5 was gee like a Bazillion Quintillian times better. :confused: :D
 

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jimbo said:
Solstice, Car of the Year? But how can this be? I thought Edmunds stated the MX5 was gee like a Bazillion Quintillian times better. :confused: :D
Well, Scott Oldham wrote the comparison test, while Steven Cole Smith wrote this piece. I take this to mean that Oldham's conclusions in the comparison are likely different that Steven Cole Smith's.

Also keep in mind that Steven Cole Smith admits that the MX-5 is a great vehicle, but emphasizes that it is also an update on what was already a very good vehicle. I take this piece to mean that he feels the Solstice, as an all new car, has an edge over the MX-5.

Now I do not exactly get this from this piece, but a lot of Car of the Year awards also take into account some sort of "market impact." In other words, what is the hot new car of the year. The Sol certainly would score in this respect. It is trading for over sticker in some markets, GM has a LONG waiting list, and it has a hot, standout design.

I think it does have a good chance to win the award, even with all of that stiff competition.
 

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Biggest Bang For The Buck!

If the Solstice doesn't get 'car of the year', it certainly deserves the 'biggest bang for the buck' award. :cheers:
 

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Chief Jay said:
If the Solstice doesn't get 'car of the year', it certainly deserves the 'biggest bang for the buck' award. :cheers:
RIGHT ON! I put down $1000 and have been :banghead: for almost six months now. :lol:
 
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