By on October 15, 2009


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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32 Comments on “Spot The Shark-Jumper...”

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    More like “Station wagon of the year” – How on earth is this a SUV, and why would anybody with more than 2 working brain cells buy it over a regular Legacy wagon?”

  • avatar


  • avatar

    @ Mirko: because there is no regular Legacy wagon.

  • avatar

    There are a lot of cars this year that, IMHO, are “car of the year” material, but very few trucks I’ve seen on various short lists can make the grade.

    But seriously, we need to take all these “car of the year” and “employee of the month” awards with a grain of salt; Remember that in the 80s, both the excremental Renault Alliance and the K-car won KOTY awards, and many believe they are seriously rigged.

  • avatar

    ^ And the Plymouth Volare before that.

  • avatar

    Does anybody-except for the staff at Motor Toones-really take this award seriously? Considering the
    number of flops they have nominated over the years
    (Corvair, Vega, Citroen SM, FrancoAmerican Alliance
    to name but a few)this award has to be seriously rigged.

  • avatar

    The Outback is a great wagon but it’s not an SUV and since MT has traded its last shred of credibility to fight off C7 I would regard this award as background noise.

  • avatar

    Jumped the shark? Years ago.

    It’s time to bury the carcass.

  • avatar

    OK, setting MT’s dismal rep aside for a moment…

    Take a look at the other vehicles in this competition for a moment. Of them, only one, the 4Runner, is what people would consider a “traditional” SUV – a body-on-frame design, skewed towards off-road performance.

    The rest are all crossovers.

    So, given that, and the fact that the market for traditional midsized SUVs like the 4Runner is as dead as dogshit, what’s the most significant new model in that group? I think the Outback makes a strong case for itself in that regard.

  • avatar

    Motor Trend is a weird publication. (Most of) their writers don’t like manual transmissions, and they don’t like utilitarian SUV’s or trucks. They seem to push every segment, at every opportunity, towards being a softly sprung mid sized sedan with an auto tranny.

    I was looking through the latest one (the new car list is pretty cool actually) and I noticed them raving about the ultimate M3/911 being the PDK equipped versions. I don’t know anyone who would actually buy either car and consider the auto anything but a traffic compromise. And I really don’t know anyone who thinks an auto equipped sports car is more fun, even if they would pull the trigger on a slushbox for other reasons. That is an city commuter’s opinion, and really not the right criteria (IMO) by which those particular cars ought to be judged.

    As far as the SUV’s go, they awarded the Forester with SUV of the year IIRC awhile ago, and really it’s just an oversized wagon. Now, I don’t have a problem with preferring wagons, I surely do myself, but that vehicle is only half competing with it’s ostensible competitors at best. It’s a vehicle that, if it really must (no, it shouldn’t) be included in the comparison, deserves a strong second place with a text heavy footnote, not an outright win. The real burn on that one is the Forester’s nearly worst-in-class auto tranny, which is what they tested for that award.

  • avatar

    It’s definitely large enough to be one now.

  • avatar

    More like “Spot the piece of bloated garbage with a crummy whiney transmission and a sub-Chrysler interior and a junky head-gasket busting four cylinder engine and a yugo interior and big bertha curb weight but still can’t tow anything like a real SUV and won’t last nearly as long but every other owner will tell you that’s a lie because Subarus last forever even though they don’t.”

  • avatar

    @ mikenolan
    Well, how would that not seem like a rigged award?

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    Maybe they should wait until something is released that is truly worth Car/Truck/SUV of the year and then give out the award. There is no need to give the award every single year.

  • avatar


    I’m no fan of the new Legacy or Impreza (Subaru died to me as a brand when they beat the Impreza with successively larger ugly sticks and got rid of the Legacy Wagon) but as the owner of an 11 year old Impreza that in that timeframe has had one fault (an O2 sensor replaced under warranty) I back up the claim that Subarus last…

  • avatar

    The vehicle is a “special utility vehicle” according to EPA standards. So is the PT Cruiser for that matter. As car standards become ever more onerous, expect more and more clever techniques for gaining the benefits of light-truck EPA status.

  • avatar

    the ’10 may not be a “real” SUV but it’s surely not a wagon … I’ve driven wagons for much of the past 20 yrs.+ and rejected the ’10 OB out of hand when I test drove it as too much of an SUV-like hulk. I bought an ’09 Outback, a real wagon.

    Call the ’10 a CUV, SUV, POS, or whatever, but it’s no wagon.

    cheers …

  • avatar
    Jonathan Gregory


    Thankfully, crow is not on my menu.

  • avatar

    MT’s COTY award is the Pulitzer of new car accolades. The Cadillac of questionable judgment.

  • avatar

    But seriously, we need to take all these “car of the year” and “employee of the month” awards with a grain of salt; Remember that in the 80s, both the excremental Renault Alliance and the K-car won KOTY awards, and many believe they are seriously rigged.

    Yeah yeah, and Hitler was Time’s Man of the Year once too. However, in the defense of the K Car, for what it was, which wasn’t much, and for the time it existed (a time when a California special Corvette thumped out nearly 200 HP and flew down the 1/4 mile in a blazing 8.5 secs) it was a pretty good car and a decent value at the time. Many people forget that Chrysler invented the 10yr/100k mile warranty around this time to peddle its Krap so that was thrown as part of the COTY as well.

    You’re right bout MotorTrend though. I’ve always found it to be more of a commericial enterprise that leans more to what Joe Average customer would buy, not dream of.

  • avatar

    Years ago I read Motor Trend demanded of companies that wanted to have a vehicle considered for “X of the Year” some payback such as free loaner cars in the event they won. Anyone know if this is still the case?

  • avatar

    50Merc: Autoweek busted MT in the late 80s for that COTY blackmail. Perks, junkets, ad pages, loaners, etc. whoever un-assed the most free stuff got the prize. Scum bags.

    It matters not to me any longer whether they still do that.I have never trusted the rag ever since. Shameful. They used to be my favorite from the time I was 10 years old.

    Delorean23: I think you’re mistaken about the 10/10 on the K Car warranty. Chrysler had 5/50,000 miles in the 60s and went to 7/70,000 at some point in the late 90s. Hyundai is the only one that has ever used 10/10 IIRC.

  • avatar

    sad that a company that (at one time, anyway) prided itself on it’s differences now is foisting vehicles on us that are very much like everything else out there. I miss the Brat! Heck, at least the four-door trucklet they sold a few years back had some character. Now, they just look like rolling blobs…much like just about every other SUV on the road…

  • avatar

    I own a 2008 last generation Subaru Legacy. Here’s what the UK’s Independent newspaper said about the new Legacy wagon this past weekend (don’t think they would award it anything, and the author John Simister used to be a regular in CAR mag):

    “Like estate cars wearing Mondeo or Insignia badges, the Legacy now needs to be berthed rather than merely parked.

    And it is, frankly, ugly. Yes, aesthetics are partly subjective, but slab sides, overblown wheel arches and a generic nose design – whose droopy sculpting and smiley front grille could have come from any lesser-known manufacturer – do not make for a handsome car. It’s true that handsome cars are harder to make nowadays, given the strictures of safety standards. But with the Legacy it seems the designers just could not remember what it was they were designing. And no one stood back and said: ‘That looks wrong.’

    Harsh words? Maybe. The tragedy is that the Legacy does have a positive design legacy. The outgoing version was the first of the breed to be a genuinely good-looking car, a machine which might tempt buyers away from an Audi on aesthetic as well as technical grounds.”

    Yup. I suspected MT of being a bribable outfit in 1962 when I was still in high school. Car of the year indeed. Never read MT since except in waiting rooms.

  • avatar

    I have to think their decision to make Shamu…sorry…the Caprice COTY has to hang over their heads like a noose. Then again (and I’m too lazy to look it up right now), I think the only other cars to choose from (domestic) were the 4-door versions of the Cutlass Supreme/Grand Prix/Lumina and the Dodge Spirit.

    I don’t think an award should have been handed out that year…

    More Motor Trend funny business:

    If anyone else here is from SW Ohio/Northern Kentucky, you have probably seen this. There is a dealer owner/dealership named Tom Gill (Chevrolet…trust me when he speaks, he puts the HICK in Ve-HICK-le in vehicle since that’s how he says it.) Now he’s flooding our TV sets that he’s a “Motor Trend” approved dealership when it comes to products used to prep, clean, and service their cars. Since when did Motor Trend become the authority in car care and it makes no sense to me on how a car magazine suddenly “approves” how dealers take care of their cars? There’s a reason why I didn’t renew – Motor Trend needs to focus more on their product instead of handing out some kind of “seal of quality” to dealers.

    Then again, I’m still waiting for the next cover redesign of Car and Driver to read “Car and Driver brought to you by WeatherTech and Tire Rack.”

  • avatar

    Maybe they should wait until something is released that is truly worth Car/Truck/SUV of the year and then give out the award. There is no need to give the award every single year.…

    Can’t do that; think of those lost advertising dollars.

    I will also throw some defense to the choice of the K-car. Compared to other new domestics, it was the most significant entry in terms of a different design and execution compared to the others entrants. They really couldn’t tell from the COTY testing that the head gaskets were as durable as a potato chip in the rain.

    If you want a real jump-the-shark winner, it has to be the Caprice Classic LTZ. There was nothing significant about this car. From a design point of view, it was just the same BOF design with new bodywork. At least the K was a change in design philosophy. Style wise, the Caprice was nothing groundbreaking either. Motor Trend tried to save face by specifying the suspension upgrade…what a cop-out. Clearly after giving Ford the awards for a few years, they threw GM a bone.

  • avatar

    Did Subaru actually buy enough advertising in MT to qualify for a COTY nomination?

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @TEXN3 :
    @ Mirko: because there is no regular Legacy wagon.

    Then what’s this, chopped liver?

    Maybe there’s no Legacy wagon in the US, because of the “Americans don’t buy wagons” thing, but the outback is just a compromised version of it.

  • avatar

    Motor Trend? Ha. I read Peter Egan’s column and occasional articles while standing next to the magazine rack in the grocery store. The COTY dealie is really nothing more than a perk tossed to the manufacturer who spent most on MT ads last year.

    But buy a copy of that rag? Never.

    And Car & Driver? Same thing, except now that Bedard has been canned and Phillips is getting older it takes <1 minute for the grocery store perusal. Plus maybe another 15 seconds to laugh about how much more every month DED,Jr looks like the Sikh guy who runs the gas station near my house.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    The only thing that’s going to keep Motor Trend magazine alive is their licensing agreements with car dealers, along with the stuff that’s sold at Pep Boys and AutoZone with the Motor Trend label on it.

    Cycle World can’t be too far behind.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    At the beginning of the car award process, MT sits down with manufacturers with a new or refreshed car that “qualifies” for consideration(advertisers) and discusses the parameters of the “award.”

    As in, if you win, here’s how much advertising we’d like you to put in our magazine.

    And if you win, here’s how much it’ll cost you to license our COTY award (or SUVOTY or TOTY or whatever other category of the year they’re peddling). And we get paid for those mentions in any media in which you say it. BTW, there’s a minimum figure for licensing…and it just goes up from there.

    Then we’ll need a few “long term testers” to add to our fleet so our editors can drive for free.

    Then MT sits back and lets the bidding begin.

    Highest bidder = award!

    (Oh, and Subaru will be giving MT an — wait for it, spoiler alert — exclusive on the debut of their new Toyoburu sports car as part of this Outback deal.)

    MT may be a dinosaur, but they’re still riding this scam straight to the tar pit.

  • avatar

    re: DweezilSFV –

    I dunno. Chyrsler did offer a 10 yr/100K mile on their powertrains in the late 80s. However, this was far before the internet so I have very little proof other than the anecdotal.

    I remember clearly my mother purchasing an ’89 Dodge Shadow ES Turbo and her big claim on it was the 10 yr/100K mile powertrain warranty. Which we used when I blew up the turbo at 49K miles. The bumper to bumper was only good for 7/7.

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