The Truth About Cars » Awards The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Awards Japanese Brands Dominate Consumer Reports Rankings, Detroit Three Struggling Wed, 26 Feb 2014 15:30:54 +0000 2014 Lexus GS 450h Hybrid Exterior-004

Though quality and performance have improved as of late for products made by the Detroit Three, they still have a ways to go to beat the Japanese brands dominating Consumer Reports‘ current rankings.

Automotive News reports seven of the top 10 brands rated for overall reliability and road-test performance as conducted by the magazine are Japanese, while the two top Detroit brands — Buick and GMC — tied for 12th; Ford and Jeep tied for last place.

The top-rated brand for the second consecutive year was Lexus, scoring 79 out of 100 for their lineup deemed “quiet, plush, and very reliable” by Consumer Reports. Following the luxury brand were Acura, Audi, Subaru and Toyota (tied for fourth place), Mazda, Honda, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW and Volvo (tied for 10th).

As for where the remaining Detroit Three brands landed, Chrysler took up the 14th position while Chevrolet, Cadillac, Dodge and the aforementioned Ford and Jeep rounding out the bottom of the rankings behind Nissan, the lowest ranked Japanese brand in a tie with Volkswagen for 19th.

Ford and Jeep’s dead-last ranking is the result of technology woes for the former’s MyFord Touch infotainment system, and a “crude and outdated” lineup — including a Grand Cherokee suffering from weakened reliability, and a Cherokee that the magazine says “isn’t that competitive” — for the latter. Ford, in particular, is a “sad story” according to CR director of auto testing Jake Fisher:

The Ford Fusion, not only does it look, but it drives like a good European sports car. It really does. The problem is the reliability, and that’s what’s dragging down that brand.

Meanwhile, Fisher notes that if General Motors had “a whole lineup of Impalas,” considered the best large sedan based on road tests conducted by the magazine, the automaker would be at the top of the rankings. Overall, Fisher believes the Detroit Three as a whole are “going the right way” in terms of reliability and performance.

Regarding individual models, the Ram 1500 was rated the Best Pickup over the Silverado/Sierra twins in part due to the lack of reliability information for the latter two, while Hyundai captured the trophy Best Mid-Size SUV for their Santa Fe, Subaru holding off the Honda CR-V with their Forester for Best Small SUV, and Tesla, whose Model S holds the highest overall score ever given by the magazine: 99 out of 100, takes home the Overall trophy.

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J.D. Power: Increase In Dependability Problems For 1st Time Since 1998 Thu, 13 Feb 2014 15:00:27 +0000 JD

In a new study by J.D. Power and Associates, the analyst group has found an increase in the average of dependability problems per 100 cars, the first such increase since 1998.

Autoblog reports that the firm’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study found an average of 133 issues per 100 cars made in 2011 among the 41,000 respondents who participated, up 6 percent from 126 problems per 100 cars found in 2010 models in last year’s study. The majority of the issues stem from the drivetrain, particularly those utilizing four-cylinder and diesel engines; five- and six-cylinder powerplants were less problematic.

As for the brands with the least problems, Lexus takes the prize for the third consecutive year with only 68 issues per 100 units, while Mercedes-Benz (104), Cadillac (107), Acura (109) and Buick (112) rounding out the top five.

Among the automakers, General Motors took home eight dependability awards for their 2011 models, including the Volt, Escalade and Lucerne, while Toyota won seven among their trio of brands, and Honda taking home six awards.

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Rigged Voting May Lead ADAC To Scrap Annual Award Fri, 24 Jan 2014 11:00:44 +0000 ADAC Golden Angel

German auto club Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club e.V., or ADAC, may no longer bestow their annual Yellow Angel Award after the club admitted to vote rigging.

Automotive News reports that ADAC’s communications director, Michael Ramstetter, resigned from his post after confessing he manipulated the results of the Yellow Angel Award — given to what the auto club considers as Germany’s favorite car, providing a boost in sales to the winner — to favor the Volkswagen Golf. Through Ramstetter’s actions, the Golf received 34,299 votes to take the prize; the hatch actually received 3,409 votes from the club’s 18 million members.

Club president Peter Meyer said the Yellow Angel has no future, leading to speculation that the annual prize may be scrapped. The rigging also has critics calling into question the validity of ADAC’s car safety testing, and the club’s overall credibility.

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Which Car Holds Its Value Best? Here Are The 2013 Resale Champs Wed, 12 Jun 2013 11:28:43 +0000

We all know that the value of a car crashes the moment we drive it off the dealer lot. Some do more, some less. Edmunds compiled which brands and makes hold their value more than others.

On a brand level the most prudent cars are made by Acura (honorable mention to Lexus and Infiniti), and, for the more rugged types, by Jeep (honorable mention to Ram and Jeep.) However, people choose brands, but buy cars. So here are Edmunds’ “Best Retained Value Awards” by segment.


 Any of the cars on this list should hold their value longer than cars not on the list, says Edmunds.

Retained Value Champions 2013
Segment  Winner  Honorable Mention
Sedan Under $20K  Ford Focus Honda Fit, Toyota Corolla
Sedan $20K-$30K  Honda Civic MAZDA3, Nissan Altima
Sedan $30K-$40K  Dodge Charger  BMW 3 Series, Honda Crosstour, Chrysler 300
Sedan Over $40K  Porsche Panamera  Audi S6, Cadillac CTS
Wagon Under $35K  Toyota Venza  MINI Cooper Countryman, Kia Soul
Wagon Over $35K  Ford Flex  Audi allroad, Lincoln MKT
Coupe Under $25K  Honda Civic  MINI Cooper, Scion tC
Coupe $25K-$35K  Dodge Challenger  Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro
Coupe $35K-$45K  BMW 3 Series  Audi A5, Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Coupe Over $45K  Chevrolet Corvette  Ford Shelby GT500, Porsche 911
Convertible Under $35K  Ford Mustang  MINI Cooper Roadster, MINI Cooper
Convertible $35K-$45K  Chevrolet Camaro  BMW 1 Series, Lexus IS 250 C
Convertible Over $45K  Ford Shelby GT500  Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911
Compact Truck  Toyota Tacoma
Large Light Duty Truck  Chevy Silverado 1500  GMC Sierra 1500 , Toyota Tundra
Large Heavy Duty Truck  GMC Sierra 3500HD  GMC Sierra 2500HD, Chevy Silverado 2500HD
SUV Under $25K  Nissan Rogue  Jeep Compass, Kia Sportage
SUV $25K-$35K  Jeep Wrangler  Honda CR-V, Ford Escape
SUV $35K-$45K  Toyota 4Runner  Toyota Highlander, GMC Acadia
SUV Over $45K  Lexus LX 570  Lexus GX 460, Acura MDX
Vans  Honda Odyssey  Toyota Sienna,  MAZDA5 ,Ford E-Series Wagon
Hybrid/Electric  Toyota Prius  Honda Civic, Prius V, Ford C-Max Hybrid


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What’s Wrong With This Competition?: Canadian Car Of The Year Edition Sun, 30 Oct 2011 17:08:53 +0000

It’s safe to say that most of the seemingly infinite number of “car of the year” competitions are so utterly bunk that they’re not even worth the effort of exposing. But the reality is that you still see advertisements for cars proudly proclaiming them the favored choice of some local, national, or media outlet’s car of the year competition. So, to show just how non-representative and unscientific these awards can be, we thought we’d share the categories from the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada (AJAC)’s “Test Fest,” which will determine the “Canadian Car Of The Year” as well as the favored cars in several categories. Our Canadian tipster writes:

They do all kinds of crap that skew the results.  For example, they use the cars “as tested” price to determine what category it falls under, rather than MSRP.  So what category the car falls under is completely at the whim of whatever car the manufacturer drops off and what category THEY want the car tested in.  You could have an Elantra fall into the “Over $21,000″ category or “Under $21,000″ category depending on content.  Same car, 2 different categories.  But it gets better.  Some of the categories I call “lump” categories because they just throw everything in one category.  My favorite is Sports Car Under $50K.  They actually have the Veloster competing against an Charger SRT8 and a C Class Merc.  No, I’m not making this us.  I’ve included the list for you, so that you may try and decipher WTF these boobs are doing.

Hit the jump to check out the categories for yourself. But first, it should be noted that despite previous questions about the AJAC award’s ethics, the competition now has a page on its website dedicated specifically to enumerating the ethical obligations of participating journalists and the award’s organizers. Unfortunately that page is limited to the following content:

Code of Ethics

AJAC Ethical Guidelines

Under review.


Small Car < $21K
Chevrolet Sonic Sedan
Fiat 500
Honda Civic Sedan
Hyundai Accent
Kia Rio S
Nissan Versa Sedan
Scion iQ

Small Car > $21K
Ford Focus
Hyundai Elantra
Subaru Impreza
Volkswagen Beetle

Family < $30K
Chevrolet Orlando
Chrysler 200
Kia Optima LX
Mazda 5
Toyota Camry
Volkswagen Passat TDI

Family > $30K
Chevrolet Volt
Dodge Charger
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Kia Optima Hybrid
MINI Countryman
Toyota Prius V

Luxury Car
Acura TL
Buick LaCrosse eAssist
Chrysler 300S
Infiniti M35h
Lexus CT200h
Mercedes C-Class C350 4MATIC

Sports/Performance < $50K
Buick Regal GS
Dodge Charger SRT8
Honda Civic SI Coupe
Hyundai Veloster
Kia Optima SX
Mercedes C-Class Coupe

Sports/Performance > $50K
BMW 1 Series M Coupe
Chevrolet Camaro Convertible
Chrysler 300 SRT8
Hyundai Genesis R-Spec
Mercedes CLS C-Class
Porsche Cayman R

Prestige > $75K
BMW  6 Series Cabriolet
Jaguar XKR-S
Mercedes S-Class S350 BlueTEC 4MATIC

SUV-CUV < $35K
Dodge Journey
Jeep Compass
Jeep Wrangler

SUV-CUV $35-$60K
Dodge Durango
Ford Explorer
Range Rover Evoque
Volkswagen Touraeg TDI

SUV-CUV > $60K
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
Mercedes M-Class

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Your Nominations Please: Announcing The 2010-2011 Lutzie Awards For Outrageous Auto Exec Quotes Mon, 29 Aug 2011 22:57:05 +0000

Whether agree that automotive PR needs to take more risks or you think it takes more than enough risks already, we can all enjoy the outlandish quotes that do emanate from industry executives in spite of the protective PR-professional bubble that surrounds them. And though TTAC has only had the institutional follow-through to hold a single “Lutzie Award” in the past, I figured that next week (when I’ll be presenting a flood of content based on my extended rap session with Maximum Bob) would be the perfect opportunity to bring them back. And in order to do so, we need you, our readers, to make the nominations. So fire up the search engine of your choice, and hit the jump for nominating criteria and the rules of this year’s awards.

The basic premise of the Lutzie awards is simple, and has not changed since this site’s founder first laid them down:

The Lutzie is our award for the industry executive who made the most outlandish statement or statements, demonstrated a total disconnect with reality and/or inserted their pedal extremity firmly into their oral cavity with alarming regularity. We’re looking to you for nominations, starting today. Tell us who you think is most deserving of the award and give us a quote that illustrates their worth in a comment below.

Nominations will stay open through Friday of this week, and then TTAC’s editors will narrow the list down to our ten favorites. On Wednesday of next week (technology permitting), we’ll announce our official ballot and open voting for 48 hours. We will then announce our winner with great pomp and circumstance, bringing glory to the waywardly loudmouthed winning executive. One final rule: because it’s been a long time since we’ve held these awards, nominated quotes can come from any time between 1/1/10 and 8/31/11. Good luck to all, and may the most outrageous quote win!

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Ask The Best And Brightest: What Is Your Car Of The Year? Mon, 10 Jan 2011 14:12:32 +0000

Chevy’s Volt and Ford’s Explorer won North American Car and Truck of the year, a result which surprised precisely nobody here at Cobo Hall. The Volt beat out Nissan’s Leaf and Hyundai’s Sonata, while the Explorer beat out Dodge’s Durango and Jeep’s Grand Cherokee. But forget the well-fed journos who make up the NACOTY jury… what is your car and truck of the year… and why?

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Saab Fan Blog Inspires Official Award Fri, 06 Aug 2010 22:50:11 +0000 Anybody who made it through the last 12 months or so with their passion for the Saab brand intact deserves some kind of free psychological screening and endangered species protection award. Hell, anyone who made it through the last 20 years… you know what, this isn’t the moment for cynicism. Through the wrenching chaos of GM’s often-abortive attempts to sell Saab, the website SaabsUnited has stood  by its brand, aggregating the most complete Saab sale coverage on the web, and generally consoling the faithful. Oh yes, and suffering through a relentless stream of cynicism from yours truly (sorry guys, it’s all we know). Anyway, for being the keepers of hope when all hope seemed lost, Saab has named and annual award after SaabsUnited which

will be made annually as the company’s way of expressing its gratitude to people like [SU founder Steven Wade] and others who continue to show us such great support.

This might seem like so much PR fluff, but having read SU daily during the height of the Saab sale drama, I’m forced to say that SaabsUnited is a testament to the new power of the internet. Never in the history of the autoblogosphere has a blogger ever become so close to the center of a story on the strength of sheer passion alone. Even when it seemed like Spyker and GM were ready to call the brand quits, SU was there, agitating and organizing. At a time when automotive passion seems to be at something of a low tide, SaabsUnited showed that brand loyalty verging on the unreasonably fanatical is still alive. For that, they deserve a moment of recognition… even if some of us still think Saab’s still deep in the doodoo.

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Chung Mong-Koo, Alan Mulally And Martin Winterkorn Named “Auto Executives Of The Year” Mon, 12 Jul 2010 19:03:04 +0000

According to the Korea Times, Automotive News has named its “Auto Executives Of The Year,” bestowing its North American honors upon Ford CEO Alan Mulally, its European award to VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, and its Asian award to Hyundai CEO Chung Mong-Koo. Mulally is credited with improving Ford’s US-market position during a sales downturn, while Winterkorn was honored for his bold plan to move most of VW’s vehicles to only three modular platforms. But perhaps the most controversial award went to Chung, who has improved Hyundai’s standing in the global industry, but has suffered more than his fair share of legal problems in the process.

While most write-ups of the award focus on Hyundai’s sales growth, and critical acclaim for such new products as the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, Chung Mong-Koo has spent the last several years fighting accusations of embezzlement and political fraud. Convicted of raising a $100m slush fund back in 2007, Chung was sentenced to three years in prison, only to receive a presidential pardon for his “contributions to the Korean economy.” In short, because his bribe checks cleared.

And though Chung was able to evade a number of attempts to put him behind bars (no head of a chaebol, or Korean family-owned conglomerate has ever served a full prison sentence), his malfeasance has still hurt his company. Only this year, Mong-Koo was found guilty of “managerial malfeasance” for selling shares in Hyundai Group subsidiaries despite the fact that the share sales damaged the company’s standing. According to the ruling in that case, brought by 14 Hyundai shareholders,

The court has recognised the fact that Chung made Hyundai Motor participate in the share sales to head off any threat to the Hyundai Group’s managerial rights, even though it could inflict damage on his company. This is a case that reveals the problem of family-run management that focuses on the interests of major stockholders and the executives of Hyundai Motor

In short, Chung Mong-Koo, who once refused a request by his father, former Hyundai Group boss Chung Ju-yung, to step down from his position at the top of Hyundai/Kia Motors, has hurt his company on numerous occasions by acting with little regard to the rule of law and fair competition. Sure, Hyundai is showing many signs of improvement, but naming its CEO as the top Asian auto executive only months after he was fined $60m for managerial malfeasance sends a problematic message. Surely Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda was  disqualified for AN’s award due to its CEO’s challenges with a global recall scandal… so why wasn’t Chung disqualified for being charged with managerial malfeasance after being sued by his shareholders?

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Chart Of The Day: Domestic Content Edition Wed, 23 Jun 2010 22:45:46 +0000

These are the ten vehicles that NHTSA says are made from 90 percent domestically-produced components [via]. Notice a common thread there? Yes, the correct answer is Ford involvement, but according to, the task of crowning a “king of domestic content” isn’t as simple as NHTSA’s number. doesn’t give away the secret recipe for its American Made Index, but it says that it weighs parts content (minimum requirement: 75 percent) against sales to find the maximum economic impact. It also models excludes vehicles built exclusively outside the U.S. or models that are being phased out (akaTown Car, and the Mercurys). Here is the top of their list for 2010:

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The TTAC Academy Ad Awards, By Popular Vote Category. And The Winners Are … Sat, 27 Mar 2010 15:57:04 +0000

With both Niedermeyers away, Friday’s heroes were Steven Lang and Cammy Corrigan. The two of them, sometimes at odds over matters of faith, saved TTAC from an otherwise assured traffic disaster, caused by the absence of our dear leaders. The two most read posts on Friday’s TTAC were Steven Lang’s review of the Kia Optima in first place, and Cammy Corrigan’s “Ask The Best And Brightest: Have A Favourite Car Ad” in a close second.

Who says there is justice in this world? Steven had to get, drive, and describe a Kia Optima. Hard work. Cammy only had to ask “what are your favourite adverts or advertising campaigns from the auto world?” And the nominations kept pouring in. At the time of this typing, there were 112 comments, most of them with a link to an ad, as required. Some incorrigibles posted without a link, shame on you, stand in the corner.

Not only were the ads posted, they were watched. Due to the work of our Canadian crack coders, we can see how many times someone clicks on a link. Data derived from the click-count are the key to the easiest to write category: “By Popular Vote.” And the winners are… (ranked from most clicked on down:)

The 1984 Little GTI won the most hearts, minds and clicks of the Best & Brightest. Credit: Green Destiny, ScottyDriver.

Second in place was a more serious one, a 420 SEL Mercedes Benz traveling on a highway outside of Melbourne, some time in the late 80s. It had a head-on collision. No fun at all. Usually, not something shown in a TV commercial. But the B&B love it. Credit: Ben.

Next in line is the Isuzu Gemini, which spawned a whole genre of car ballet commercials (to be featured in a later TTAC post.) Credit: Niky

Safety (or smashed cars, you be the judge) rank high in popularity amongst the Best and Brightest, as evidenced by the strong showing of this ad for Volvo’s insipidly named SIPS (Side Impact Protection System). Credit: Cammy Corrigan.

This ad for a Toyota Vios presaged the ghost in the machine problems of possessed Toyotas. They were just a tiny bit off: Loch Ness Monster eats man. Credit: FishTank.

Next in line is an old standby on the Youtube circuit, the lady with the fake steering wheel. It also generated a whole fake steering wheel genre, not to be featured in a future TTAC post, as most of the sequels were duds. The original actually should be disqualified, as it is not a car commercial in the true sense of the word. But we are in a weekend mode and let it slide. Credit: Pgcooldad. Extra credit for nominating it as “My all time favourite non-car car commercial.”

Next comes a classic from Doyle Dane Bernbach’s and Volkswagen’s best times. The venerable “Have you ever wondered how the man who drives a snow plough drives to the snow plough?” Credit: Wgmleslie.

Ah, the Volkswagen classics. Where would advertising be without them? The squeaky earring that needed a dab of oil won the ad many awards and VW a lot of Golf customers. Credit: PaulieWalnut.

Often discussed, but finally found by intrepid B&B searchers: The “Unpimp your ride” ad, with them men and women in white. Credit: Educatordan.

The “By Popular Vote” category starts with a Volkswagen and ends with three Volkswagens. Tribute to Wolfsburg’s great contributions to advertising. As someone who had been there for several decades, I can assure you: The tribute is not totally undeserved.

Any suggestions for tomorrow’s category? Best cute little animals? Best underage drivers? Best commercial set to boomer rock’n’roll?

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Totally Unrelated Edition Thu, 10 Dec 2009 22:47:36 +0000 Groan

What’s that you say? Chrysler’s planning on spending $170 per projected vehicle sale on advertising next year? That could be as much as $1.4b! Well, we can’t give the Journey a prize for obvious reasons, but they do have a new Ram out this year… Truck Of The Year it is!

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Audi A3 TDI Named Green Car Of The Year Thu, 03 Dec 2009 18:07:54 +0000 But it's white!

Today, on the last day of media access to the LA Auto show, the mystic powers that be continued VAGs green run by selecting the Audi A3 TDi as the 2010 Green Car of the Year (The Jetta TDi won last year). In the running this year were the Audi A3 TDI, Honda Insight, Mercury Milan Hybrid, Toyota Prius and Volkswagen Golf TDI. According to the LA Auto Show,

The Green Car of the Year® award is a program that honors environmental leadership in the automobile field and recognizes vehicles that are readily available to consumers during the award year. Green Car Journal/ editors perform an exhaustive review of vehicle models to identify the five finalists. The winner is ultimately decided by jurors such as Jay Leno, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Carroll Shelby, Matt Petersen of Global Green USA and the Sierra Club’s Carl Pope, along with Green Car Journal editors.

Interesting then that this same bunch of car czars chose the Chevy Tahoe two years ago for getting 1 MPG better than the gasoline version. Anyone feeling some Volt love in 2011?

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Strategic Vision’s “Total Value” Turkey List Fri, 27 Nov 2009 15:35:24 +0000 Picture 52

What do you say about a purported “Total Value Index” that includes such notable turkeys as Honda’s Insight, Mercedes’ R-Class, and Chrysler Aspen? No seriously, what do you say? Did nobody at Strategic Vision notice that the Aspen has been discontinued or that the Insight is actually less compelling than a Civic Hybrid? Besides, can we be done with surveys that find different ask people how much they love the car they just dropped a load of money on? If you’re dumb enough to spend money on an Aspen, you’re dumb enough to say it has more “total value” than any other mid-size ute. But why does SV have to give your dumb, self-justifying opinion even the thinnest veneer of credibility? Here’s what Strategic Vision’s President has to say about the list:

Durability alone and simply satisfying customers is not enough for buyers who demand both immediate and long term Value. Customers no longer feel constrained to consider only the ‘usual suspects.’ Because of increased quality, competitive prices and manufacturers fighting for their lives to provide Loveworthy℠ vehicles, this is truly an exciting time for car buyers, today and in the near future. Manufacturers are listening and reacting quickly to stay competitive.

By discontinuing models that appear on the list? Sigh. Match these vehicles against their sales numbers, and you’ll see that the only consumer opinions that count (i.e. the ones backed by purchases) are very different than this list.

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Canadian Car Of The Year Kerfluffle Tue, 24 Nov 2009 20:04:26 +0000

Ah, car of the year (COTY) awards. The magical time of year when every magazine, website, and national auto journalist association decides that it has to make a definitive call on the best automobile that money can buy. And though nobody on the consumer end really takes these things seriously (when have you ever heard someone say they bought a car because it was (institution name here’s) COTY?), the folks in charge of these awards get incredibly intense about their mission. Take the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) and its self-righteous rage at a Canadian journalist, Michael Banovsky, who had the gall to report that the Canadian COTY competition removes perfect scores (as revealed in the judge training webinar video above). The AJAC immediately demanded a retraction, clarifying what their video didn’t:

No votes were thrown out, but rather if any appear as a 10, they are “discounted” to 9.9 during tabulation by the international accounting firm of KPMG. This has been the practice for many years because, as any experienced automotive journalist knows, nothing is perfect, especially something as complex as a motor vehicle.

Banovsky’s response:

I encourage and appreciate debate about the much-respected Canadian Car of the Year (CCotY) competition, widely regarded as one of the most thorough vehicle evaluations in the world. However, I also demand complete public transparency with not only the voting process, but how votes are weighted, tabulated, and scored. Since Canadian vehicle manufacturers spend tens of thousands of dollars to enter models for consideration in the CCotY and the car buying public spends tens of thousands of dollars on purchases based on results of the competition, complete transparency is a must.

And he’s got a good point. In the video above, the AJAC claims that providing journalists with a free track day and OEMs with marketing fodder are only “secondary benefits” of the competition. The primary purpose is “to provide consumers with sound comparative information on vehicles that are new to the market… to assist them in making informed shopping and purchase decision.” But if that were truly the case, its judging criteria and complete competition data would be made publicly available, in which case judges would not have had their scores altered.

In reality though, informing good consumer choices has nothing to do with the Canadian, or any other, COTY competition. After all, how can the AJAC be so adamant that no car deserves a perfect 10 score, when the entire point of the exercise is to elevate a single vehicle across every segment, price point capability? Consumers buy different vehicles based on their individual needs, and suggesting that a single model should be perceived in a more favorable light regardless of ones’ individual needs is downright anti-consumer. Indeed, the very idea of awarding a single vehicle the title of “Car Of The Year” is undeniably a product of the industry-media complex. Hiding the “secondary benefits” of marketing fodder and a free journo trackday behind the veneer of consumer education is frankly, a bad joke. Though the Canadian COTY may not (as Autoguide suggested then retracted) be rigged, that doesn’t mean the CCOTY is in any way a meaningful competition. As such, who cares if they throw out perfect scores or not. If AJAC is serious about providing valuable consumer information, they would do well to heed Mr Banovsky’s critique, rather than blindly and defensively lashing out at him.

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IIHS Moves Crash Test Goalposts, Pisses Off Toyota Wed, 18 Nov 2009 21:02:57 +0000

The IIHS has released its “Top Safety Picks 2010,” and thanks in part to the addition of roof crush tests that exceed federal standards (4x vehicle weight for an “acceptable” score) , a spot of drama has ensued. Not a single Toyota, Lexus or Scion made the list, for example, causing Toyota’s Irv Miller to lay into the IIHS [via Jalopnik].

In 2009, Toyota won more IIHS Top Safety Pick (TSP) awards than any other manufacturer. Toyota continues to improve vehicle passive and active safety, including improvement of past winners of IIHS TSP. IIHS’ statement that Toyota was shut out for 2010 is extreme and misleading, considering there are 38 Toyota, Lexus and Scion models, and only three were tested for roof strength by IIHS: Camry, RAV4 and Yaris. This is the first year IIHS has included its own roof strength tests, which exceed federal standards, for TSP consideration. All Toyota vehicles meet or exceed Federal Safety Standards for frontal and side impact, roof crush resistance and rollover protection.

Well, Toyota, if you play the IIHS’s game (and based on Miller’s TSP-counting, you are) you can’t start whining about losing just because the goalposts were moved. Moving goalposts and exceeding federal requirements is what the IIHS does. The IIHS’s single aim is to continually move the safety benchmark ever upward, without taking fuel efficiency, packaging or any other inevitable design compromises into account. Live by the sword, die by the sword. If meeting federal standards is enough (and it is), just ignore the IIHS like former TSP winners and 2010 losers BMW, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Saab are. Or better yet, join the debate over whether or not increased roof crush standards actually make cars safer. As it’s played out, Miller’s response serves only to reduce the automaker’s likability factor and lend credence to rumors that Toyota fudges structural issues and hides the truth.

Here are your 2010 IIHS Top Safety Pick Winners:

Large cars
Buick LaCrosse
Ford Taurus
Lincoln MKS
Volvo S80

Midsize cars
Audi A3
Chevrolet Malibu built after October 2009
Chrysler Sebring 4-door with optional electronic stability control
Dodge Avenger with optional electronic stability control
Mercedes C class
Subaru Legacy
Subaru Outback
Volkswagen Jetta sedan
Volkswagen Passat sedan
Volvo C30

Small cars
Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control
Kia Soul
Nissan Cube
Subaru Impreza except WRX
Volkswagen Golf 4-door

Midsize SUVs
Dodge Journey
Subaru Tribeca
Volvo XC60
Volvo XC90

Small SUVs
Honda Element
Jeep Patriot with optional side torso airbags
Subaru Forester
Volkswagen Tiguan

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Ford Fusion Named Motor Trend Car of the Year Tue, 17 Nov 2009 19:42:50 +0000 (courtesy: Motor Trend)

The Ford Fusion is a perfectly competent yet utterly bland vehicle. It’s proof that American firms can compete in the mass-market vanilla sedan segment, but not because it does anything particularly well. Its strength is nothing more than an absence of the glaring issues that kept Detroit out of the Accord/Camry sweepstakes. Which is why Motor Trend doesn’t get overly carried away with the credibility-straining praise of the vehicle itself (with the requisite glaring exceptions, to wit: “the Fusion SE goes from mild-mannered commuter to worthy canyon charger”). So instead, the praise gets spread to the lineup as a whole: “the 2010 Ford Fusion’s impressive bandwidth as a model range was one of the many factors that helped it earn the 2010 Motor Trend Car of the Year award,” we’re told. What this boils down to: you can get a hybrid powertrain in addition to four-pot and six-pot engines. In short, MT gave the Fusion COTY because it does everything a Camry does, but, crucially, it’s from Detroit. Well, Hermosillo, Mexico, actually. Still, its advertising budget still comes from Detroit, and that makes all the difference.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Tomorrow’s Award Today Edition Mon, 16 Nov 2009 20:12:49 +0000 Count those chickens...

Time Magazine goes ahead and gives an unproven, unavailable vehicle a “Best Invention of 2009″ award.

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Consumer Reports’ Reliability Results Tue, 27 Oct 2009 18:38:37 +0000 Sometimes shooting par is good enough

Though we don’t have a [sub] for Consumer Reports‘ members-only data, their latest reliability survey summary has enough interesting tidbits to warrant a mention. Based on their subscriber base’s 1.4m autos, and using only data available for at least 100 examples of a given model, the survey is one of the better indicators of reliability out there (although when it comes to this topic there is no gospel). If nothing else, it’s hard to argue that CR’s reliability results aren’t influential, so sales are definitely at stake. The results? All Toyota/Lexus/Scion received ratings of “average” or better, an improvement over last year when CR found Camry V6, Tundra V8 4WD, and the Lexus GS AWD to be lacking. Honda/Acura and Subaru also showed extremely well where complete data was available, and Hyundai/Kia models were average or better except for Sedona and Entourage. Hybrids also scored surprisingly well, with nine gas-electrics scoring above average. But CR is making the biggest fuss over Ford, which they say is “on par” with the Japanese firms on all but a few truck-based models.  The rest of the Detroit firms? Not quite so much.

General Motors is a mixed bag. Among the bright spots is the redesigned Chevrolet Malibu; in its first year, the four-cylinder version is better than average and the V6 is average. The Buick Lucerne with a V8 and the Pontiac G6 with a four-cylinder are above average, and the Chevrolet Avalanche has improved to average.

But a quarter of GM models are still well below average in reliability. Some that didn’t fare well are fairly new designs that did well in our testing, such as the Cadillac CTS and the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Saturn Outlook SUV triplets. Chrysler trails the pack. Almost two-thirds of its products rate below average for reliability. The redesigned 2008 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans earned low scores, as did the Chrysler Sebring V6 and Dodge Avenger sedans and the Jeep Liberty SUV. The Sebring Convertible has the worst score: 283 percent worse than average. The only above-average models are the Dodge Caliber hatchback and Jeep Patriot SUV.

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Spot The Shark-Jumper Thu, 15 Oct 2009 15:43:59 +0000 Really?

Is it Motor Trend for giving the Outback an “SUV of the Year” award, or is it “the original SUV alternative” for being in contention at all?

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Car of the Year Selection Process Fri, 03 Jul 2009 11:42:50 +0000

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JD Power Initial Quality Survey 2009 Arrives Mon, 22 Jun 2009 21:38:49 +0000

And we don’t care. Again. Still. If there’s a more nebulous concept out there than “initial quality,” we’re not aware of it. Check minus.

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Just What the World Needs—Another COTY Award Sat, 13 Jun 2009 12:21:07 +0000

We've been quite vocal in our opinion of "Car of the Year" awards such as those sold handed out every year by Motor Trend. Even worse are those picked by non-automotive rags, where a COTY announcement ranks right up there with their pronouncements of the years trendiest sunglasses or the best place for the killer mojitos Yet, for whatever reason, Esquire has decided the world needs yet another of these useless (to everyone but their advertising department) awards.]]>

We’ve been quite vocal in our opinion of “Car of the Year” awards such as those sold handed out every year by Motor Trend. Even worse are those awards bestowed by non-automotive rags where a COTY announcement ranks right up there with their pronouncements of the years trendiest sunglasses or the best place for killer mojitos. Yet, for whatever reason, Esquire has decided the world needs yet another of these useless (to everyone but their advertising department) awards.

At least “the magazine for men” is up front about their selection criteria and admits “picking a car of the year is not a scientific business.” They have their “own set of priorities.” They explain a Car of the Year “should be able to stir the ol’ loins . . . it should also be attainable for most men . . . be sharp enough to impress a date and restrained enough to park next to your boss . . . [be] thrilling but not profligate, handsome but not faddish . . . [and] fulfill the mundane, practical needs of year-round transportation but also pack enough beans under the hood to give you a queasy feeling when you realize the guy in the Porsche is instigating a race.”

So their selection criteria are totally arbitrary yet are things to which a pistonhead can relate. Fair ’nuff. However, the one criterion that you’d think essential is missing: that you can actually buy one. Their “first ever” COTY? The 2010 Ford Taurus SHO. That’s right. They gave an award for the best car you can buy to a car that isn’t even for sale yet. The 2010 Taurus won’t be seen in the showrooms (SHOrooms?) until some time next month. But hey! Once it’s there, it’ll have a ready-made advertising campaign; a state of affairs that I suspect also applies to Esquire. Whatta deal!

[TTAC welcomes former Managing Editor Frank Williams back to the autoblogosphere.]

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Volvo Snags What Car? Green Car Award Tue, 09 Jun 2009 14:34:05 +0000

What Car? magazine’s award for the year’s greenest car goes to the Volvo S40 DRIVe. The British magazine picked the diesel because its CO2 emissions are basically the same as a second generation Prius, but it’s considerably more fun to drive. The car is not available in the States, and the Honda Insight and 3-gen Prius were not available across the pond in time for eligibility. Still, it makes one wonder: Is the hybrid really the way to save the planet. I’ve driven both the S40 (regular gas) and the Insight, and, well, it’s like comparing apples and ice cream. If I could get all my vitamins in a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s, I’d never hear a crunch again, know what I mean?

The Volvo puts out 104 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Toyota is claiming the 2010 Prius puts out 100 grams of CO2 per kilometer. For comparison sake, that’s half of what an Audi A8 emits.

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Consumer Reports Annual Auto Report: Winners And Losers Fri, 27 Feb 2009 17:38:49 +0000

Consumer Reports has released its annual auto issue and scorecard, and the results are hardly shocking. CR loves them some Toyota, Honda and Subaru, singling out the big H as building the most reliable lineup of vehicles (Element excepted). Toyota came in second, with the Prius winning top spot in CR’s new “value” ranking. Only Toyota’s Yaris and FJ Cruiser were unable to earn a “recommend” grade from the report. Mercedes has improved its reliability, reckons CR, but European brands are still lagging. On the American front, Ford is singled out as the high point among the American automakers, as “some Ford models now rival their competitors” from Japan. Too bad they’re the F150 and Flex, which compete for a shrinking market segments. Unfortunately, that’s as good as the news gets for Detroit.

Detroit only builds 19 percent of CR’s “recommended” vehicles, with efficiency and reliability lagging behind the Japanese competition. And as CR bluntly puts it, “the domestics don’t have any competitive small SUVs or small cars.” Buick Enclave, Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Pontiac G8, and Saturn Outlook fared the best of GM’s models. Chevy’s Avalanche was inexplicably named a pickup “top pick.”

And Chrysler? The less said the better. After tying with Suzuki for last place last year, Chrysler has elbowed the competition out, claiming the bottom spot for itself. Not a single Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep product was recommended by CR. Chrysler’s vehicles “have noisy, inefficient, unrefined powertrains, subpar interiors, and poor visibility,” reckons CR. All of which has the Freep’s Mark Phelan wondering where it all went wrong. “The dismal showing raises serious questions about Cerberus’ management of the automaker it acquired in 2007 and the credibility of the company’s proposals as it seeks government loans to stay in business,” says the notorious Detroit booster. “Thank you sir, may I have another?”

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