The Truth About Cars » car of the year The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 20:45:49 +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 » car of the year NAIAS 2013: Cadillac ATS Is COTY, Ram 1500 Wins Truck Award Mon, 14 Jan 2013 13:23:00 +0000

No surprises here…the Cadillac ATS and Ram 1500 are North American Car and Truck of the Year. Thank god it wasn’t the FR-S. Sergio Marchionne quipped that “we deserved to win” the truck award. And I don’t disagree with him. GM’s new full-sizers are going to have a tough battle ahead of them.

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Chevrolet Volt, Vauxhall/Opel Ampera Named 2012 European Car Of The Year Mon, 05 Mar 2012 16:58:49 +0000

On the back of last year’s win for the Nissan Leaf, the Chevrolet Volt and Vauxhall/Opel Ampera has won the 2012 European Car of the Year award, beating out the Citroen DS5, Fiat Panda, Ford Focus, Range Rover Evoque, Toyota Yaris and the Volkswagen Up!

The Volt/Ampera beat out the Volkswagen Up!, with the Focus ranking third. Two jurors from England’s CAR magazine explained their voting patterns (you can read them here and here). Juror Georg Kacher, who voted for the Evoque in first place, summarized his drawbacks for Volt/Ampera twins, stating that it was prevented from getting his first place vote because

 it commands a steep asking price, is no performance champ, and consumes too much fuel once the initial battery charge has been used up

I haven’t driven the Up!, but the Evoque and Focus are both fine cars in my opinion and could have easily taken the title. The Volt and Ampera will both be sold in Europe under different dealer channels and branding (Chevrolet being more downmarket and selling rebadged Daewoos relative to Vauxhall/Opel’s slightly more upscale positioning) and seeing the sales breakdown between the two will be a fun exercise once the two are on sale across the continent.

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Also Dude, Truck Of The Year Is Not The Preferred Nomenclature. Truck/Utility, Please Tue, 31 Jan 2012 19:41:18 +0000

The shifty definition of “truck” for the NACOTY Truck of the year awards means that car-based vehicles like the Ford Explorer and Range Rover Evoque are eligible to win the “Truck of the Year Award” – but not for much longer.

The NACOTY jury has given crossovers an out, by re-branding the award as “Truck/Utility of the Year”. Let’s face it – if the award were restricted to just body-on-frame type truck or SUVs, the pool of candidates would be pretty limited. If you’re a die-hard truck guy, there’s still the Texas Truck Rodeo.

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Hyundai Elantra, Range Rover Evoque Win North American Car/Truck Of The Year Mon, 09 Jan 2012 16:15:33 +0000

Jack has already expressed his displeasure with the Evoque being named winning another Truck of the Year, but his blood pressure won’t be rising just yet. The Evoque, along with the Hyundai Elantra, just took home the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards.

The nominees for the Car award included the Elantra, Ford Focus and VW Passat, while the truck award was composed solely of crossovers with the Evoque, Honda CR-V and BMW X3 nominated. The 30-vehicle shortlist can be viewed here. The truck category is devoid of any body-on-frame vehicle.

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Car of the Year Revisionism, 1995 Edition: If Not the Cirrus, What? Fri, 09 Dec 2011 19:00:16 +0000 There’s a nice comfortable cushion of years between the present and the 1970 and 1976 Motor Trend Cars of the Year, which gave our discussions about What Might Have Been a certain detachment. Today’s Car of the Year Revisionism discussion, however, takes as its subject a car that’s still with us in large numbers.
The Cirrus wasn’t exactly a smash hit (unless you count sales to rental-car companies), and it hasn’t left a deep impression in our minds. Perhaps MT might have made a better choice… and here’s your chance to look back with 16 years of hindsight and make some suggestions. If you’d like to include imports for the sake of argument, do so; the Maxima was the Import COTY for ’95. So, what’s it gonna be? The Neon? The Accent? The Aurora? The VAZ-21099?

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Car of the Year Revisionism, 1976 Edition: If Not the Volaré/Aspen, What? Thu, 08 Dec 2011 18:30:32 +0000 We went all 20/20 hindsight on the 1970 Motor Trend COTY choice yesterday, and today we’ll be jumping right into the depths of the Malaise Era for the MT gurus’ 1976 choice: the Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volaré
The Volaré and Aspen were the successors to the successful-but-aging-poorly A-Body compacts, the Dodge Dart and Plymouth Valiant (though the Dart and Valiant were available along with the Volaré and Aspen for the 1976 model year). The new Mopar compacts had reasonably modern chassis and suspension design, but the styling was frumpy and they were far thirstier than the Dodge- and Plymouth-badged Simca and Mitsubishi captive imports. Car of the Year material, or not? For the sake of flame wars argument, we’ll include imports (for reference, the Toyota Celica Liftback won MT‘s Import Car of the Year award in ’76). What’s it going to be? The hot-selling ’76 Cutlass Supreme, with its perfect-for-the-time styling? The Pucci Edition Lincoln Mark IV? The Plymouth Arrow? Discuss.

Image source: Old Car Brochures

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Car of the Year Revisionism, 1970 Edition: If Not the Torino, What? Wed, 07 Dec 2011 18:00:46 +0000 Having just spent a weekend officiating at a race with one of the perpetrators of the latest Motor Trend Car of the Year choice, I got to thinking about past controversial COTY choices… and what choices we might make today, with the benefit of hindsight. Second-guessing the 1971 and 1983 choices is fish-in-a-barrel stuff (though I think the very radical-for-Detroit Vega deserved the award in spite of its terrible execution), but you can find tough choices all the way back to 1949. Today we’re going to talk about 1970′s Car of the Year winner: the Ford Torino.
The Torino wasn’t a fundamentally new car for 1970 (though it did get a sheetmetal redesign and a longer and wider chassis than its predecessor), and it didn’t break any new technological ground. It was a good-looking machine, to be sure, and it could be had with a mighty 375-horse 429-cubic-inch engine, but did it deserve the award? If not, what new or “substantially upgraded” 1970 car would you choose, were you to go back in time equipped with Svengali-grade hypnotic powers to change the minds of the MT War Council? To make things more interesting, we might revise the rules to allow imports to be considered for the purposes of this debate (the Porsche 914 won the Motor Trend Import Car of the Year Award in ’70, by the way), but that’s up to you. The AMC Hornet? The second-generation GM F-body? The Saab Sonett III? Discuss.

Image source: Old Car Brochures

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Feature: Five Automotive Passenger Pigeons Sun, 15 Nov 2009 18:20:22 +0000 (

Passenger pigeons were the most common bird found in North America. So common that flocks numbering 2 billion were up to a mile wide and 300 miles long. In other words, the average North American in the 18th and 19th Century saw a lot of these pigeons. You could easily argue that a passenger pigeon sighting in 1812 was something on the same scale today as seeing mind-numbing crap on TV. Not a particularly noteworthy or unique experience. So what took the passenger pigeon down? It was a combination of things but the biggest factor was that these pigeons tasted pretty good (a lot like chicken) and they were plentiful-hence a cheap source of food.bThey were wiped out at the pace of millions per year, so the last documented passenger pigeon named Martha died on September 1st 1914. In other words, something the average American had seen every day was extinct in a matter of a few decades. Quick extinction of a very common species is not a phenomenon exclusive to Mother Nature because cars can disappear overnight too. Here are a few that will soon be joining that “whatever happened to…” list.

The 1971 Chevrolet Vega-this car had the best press in the world because GM orchestrated a brilliant pre-introduction PR campaign. They kept dropping hints about the car to an extremely curious press but never really leaked any substantial information. Then, when the Vega was unveiled, it really captured the imagination of the auto world. It had a sporty European look, disc brakes, coils all around and an exotic aluminum engine.

It was Motor Trend ‘Car of the Year’ in 1971 and was picked as Reader’s Choice ‘Economy Car of the Year’ at Car and Driver. They sold 277,000 of these 1st year econo- boxes and it was a great moment for Chevy-until the reviews came in after 20-30,000 miles. GM cheaped out on the aluminum engine and used cast iron heads so the bond was never really good between head and block. Vegas became instant oil burners and to be honest, they also cheaped out on the build and material quality.

The net result was the cars sucked mechanically and in build quality, they were cheap and disposable and they disappointed a lot of owners in 1971. They were as common as dirt in the early 70s but try and find a stock, mint condition 1971 Vega in 2009. It would have to be stored in a vacuum sealed garage with 2 miles on the dial.

1972 Dodge D100 pickup-these were actually a pretty decent looking departure from the boxy D 100 look that Dodge leaned on from 1961-71. In fact, the cosmetics compared favorably in some ways to the legendary 1972 Chevy C10 plus Chrysler trumped the competition by introducing the Club Cab-the first entry into more space in a pickup.

The problem was that Chevy was at the end of the run for its design from 67-72 and the 1973 GM set the bar for design in 1970s trucks. In 72, Dodge had a nice looking truck with decent appointments but it was stuck in the 60s design that GM had just left behind.

Dodge also had some serious rust issues with these trucks around the wheel wells and the government mandated smog crap was a disaster for Mopar engines. They just hated damp and cold conditions and that automatic choke problem was a big problem for anything with a pentastar on it for most of the 70s.

They sold 100,000 of these trucks but try and find a 72 Dodge truck at a show. Worse, if you want to be cruel, count the number of 72 Chevys at the same show. Dodge trucks were just that-trucks. So they lived a fairly short, beat the hell out of me, unglamorous life as a workhorse then disappeared off the face of the earth.

Because of this horrible abuse, the AT&T, or highway maintenance 72 Dodge fleet trucks that were so common in the 70s were used up and became a part of automotive history by the time Ronnie Reagan took the oath of office. They didn’t even save the 1972 Dodge call truck from the TV show Emergency.

1973 Plymouth Fury-This was the workhorse of cars back in 1973. They were a natural taxicab with great interior room and, if you were falling down drunk and didn’t take a cab home, they also made great police cars. Either way you got the roomy back seat. 1973 Furys were all over the place. They were unglamorous working vehicles and the closest they came to looking sporty was when Dad ordered a station wagon with the fake wood on the side.

The Arab oil embargo sounded the death knell for these giant cars- nobody outside of police agencies saw any value in these big Furys and the styling was getting old. They had some rust issues but no more than average. The quirky “I hate cold, wet weather” carb was probably their biggest mechanical liability.

They were just too big and outdated at the wrong time so even though Chrysler sold 288,000 of these 4-wheeled Clydesdales, they are a heartbeat away from the passenger pigeon Hall of Fame. Vintage NYPD police car collectors are the only guys with even a remote interest in these cars that used to jam up every urban street in North America.

1974 Honda Civic-The Civic was the answer to the problem that 73 Furys couldn’t solve-they were fun, ran great and most of all they were lethal to the efforts of OPEC to hold a world hostage to oil prices. The Civics looked contemporary-even cutting edge in style so they clearly said “welcome to the 70s” to buyers. They pulled down 40 MPG, had decent power and, with the addition of the CVCC motor and a 5 speed, gave the little Civic some real sportiness. Sales topped 100,000 in 1974.

They ran like Swiss watches, quickly establishing early Honda engine reliability as a constant but they had one fatal flaw. In their rush to save weight, Honda put some pretty thin metal in the Civic-the result was disastrous for the future of these mid-70s icons. Most owners really enjoyed their Civics but the concept of a long-term relationship for the tragically rusty Civic was, at best, a dream for anybody living outside the non humid- no rainfall Death Valley zip code.

1977 Toyota Celica-Most people liked to call the lift back version of this car the Japanese Mustang and the term fit. This was a good-looking little car and, even though those back seats made a Mustang fastback back seat feel like a limousine ride, the Celica was a winner in every way. The 20 R engine was evolved from earlier engines and it was indestructible, economical, reliable and it had decent power and great economy. These cars sold like crazy from the start-1.5 million from 1970-77. They were found everywhere as North Americans became more familiar with the positives of these imports. They appealed to younger buyers and like the Civic, their timing was great during the soaring gas price era of the mid-70s.

The Celica was taken down by some of the same issues as the Civic. The light metal wasn’t great so these cars practically disintegrated over 2 or 3 North American winters. Heat was also a bit of an issue in northern climates for Celicas-they had trouble keeping up with the demands of a real winter and drivers often looked through frosty windows as part of a Celica cold weather experience. Interiors weren’t really big enough for super-sized Americans either and seats didn’t hold up well with 200 pounders.

Like the Civic, the Celica established Toyota as a player in car building and as we all know, they cured most of the rust and interior space issues. But it didn’t stop these cars that were once so common, from becoming a member of the Passenger Pigeon Hall of Fame.

In almost every example these were above average vehicles in many ways and they covered city streets in the 70s like a flock of passenger pigeons.

But like those unlucky birds, we’re down to the “Marthas” of 1971 Vegas, 72 Dodge pickups, 73 Plymouth Furys, 74 Honda Civics and 1977 Toyota Celicas.

For more of Jerry Sutherland’s work go to

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