By February of each year, we are always right in the middle of awards season, and no, we're not talking about the Golden Globes, Grammys or Oscars. We are, of course, referring to Car and Truck of the Year awards, Ten Best lists and the like. A brace of trophies had already been handed out at the Detroit Auto Show and here at the Chicago Auto Show, a few more champions were crowned. As you might imagine, Toyota is usually an oft-mentioned brand during this time of year, but we figured this year might be a little different.
Coming on the heels of several high profile recall announcements by Toyota, one might expect the once-bulletproof Japanese carmaker to at least get more careful consideration when handing out the hardware. Well, even if they have gone through closer scrutiny, that hasn't stopped multiple outlets from still rewarding them for their products. Television show MotorWeek just announced their Drivers' Choice Award winners, and the Toyota Prius is their choice for best Eco-Friendly vehicle. It also claimed the title of Best of the Year overall, making it their top pick of the 2010 models.
Other category winners are listed below and there's a long press release after the jump that includes a statement by MotorWeek host and producer John Davis. While it was probably difficult to change their minds so late in the game, the statement by Davis explaining their rationale in choosing the Prius seems to have been written some time before Toyota started making so many headlines: "If you can only buy one car for your family, the 2010 Prius is the one," said Davis. "The Prius is a no-compromise vehicle that offers impressive efficiency, cutting edge technology, smart packaging and truly iconic styling."
While all of that might still apply, it's bad timing if nothing else to be handing out a top award to the Prius. In that spirit, Davis added an additional statement to clarify and defend the show's selection. In it he explained that while MotorWeek had two different Prius hybrids in their care for several months, nothing ever went wrong with them and that the show is confident that the problems will be satisfactorily addressed by Toyota.
MotorWeek was certainly not alone on that front however, as Toyota has recently been lauded by several other organizations as well. In Japan, for instance, Toyota was honored with a government energy efficiency award. Interestingly, the company chose to decline that award, though, saying that "the honor is not appropriate for a car hit by massive recalls," according to MSNBC.
Without further ado, here are the MotorWeek Drivers' Choice Award winners:
* Best Small Car: Mazda3
* Best Family Sedan: Ford Taurus
* Best Luxury Sedan: Buick LaCrosse
* Best Small Utility: Chevrolet Equinox
* Best Large Utility: Honda Pilot
* Best Pickup Truck: Ram 1500/2500/3500
* Best Eco-Friendly: Toyota Prius
* Best Sport Sedan: BMW 3-Series
* Best Sport Coupe: Chevrolet Camaro
* Best Performance Car: Audi S4
* Best Convertible: Nissan 370Z Roadster
* Best Dream Machine: Audi R8 5.2 FSI/Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
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Since Motorweek has Prius as car of the year, here is their full statement:
MotorWeek’s statement regarding issue with brakes on the 2010 Prius
“MotorWeek has been test driving vehicles for nearly 30 years, providing unbiased, independent reviews of thousands of cars and trucks. Consumers rely on us to make smart buying decisions, a responsibility we take very seriously. That’s why we want to address the issue of why MotorWeek chose the 2010 Prius as its 2010 Drivers’ Choice “Best of the Year.”
We test drove two 2010 models of the Toyota Prius for several months and never experienced any mechanical problems. The cars were put through MotorWeek’s standard performance tests, including tackling city streets, jammed highways, as well as challenging hills and mountainous terrain. MotorWeek’s “Best of the Year” selection was made well before any potential safety issues were raised. We still think it is an exemplary vehicle that is worthy of the Drivers’ Choice Award and the dozens of other awards it has received. MotorWeek is confident any potential issues will be fully addressed by Toyota. “
LaCrosse? I come from a GM family and I took a good look at the LaCrosse. It's a nicely updated mid-size sedan, but with a too-busy interior, small trunk, underpowered, and exterior styling that is a cross between a Lexus sedan and a Rendezvous. It's certainly not a luxury sedan.
I don't see how can the best sport sedan to be 3-series(328i and 335i and 335d) when M3 didn't get the best performance car, or A4(2.0T and 3.2) didn't get the best sport sedan when S4 could get the best performance car. Especially when M3 has clear horsepower and weight advantage over S4 sedan. Plus, there is not a wide enough gap in terms of horsepower between 3-series and S4.
__________________ 2008 Lexus IS350 sedan Obsidian Black/Black, 35% tint on rear windows, Michelin Pilot Super Sports.
I casually know Motorweek's John Davis, but not as a close friend or colleague. I see him at local auto shows and events and we talk (I watch the Motorweek TV show sometimes, too). Motorweek, overall, is not what I would call a biased organization by any means, though the organization's mechnic/technician, Pat Goss (who owns his own repair shop) leans heavily towards American-designed/American-badged vehicles. However, he has also has owned Mercedes products. Goss also admits that we have built some real junk here in America...he himself had a Pontiac Grand Prix that was a real lemon. John Davis, though, is a little more open-minded, and, in general, is an easier guy to talk to.