Motor Trend Automotive Awards Go To Chevrolet, Volvo
By Burt Carey
General Motors may be onto something here. While the personal truck industry for the most part stuck with big, burly and beefy, GM turned back time on us all by reintroducing its mid-sized Chevrolet Colorado for 2016.
For its efforts GM earned the Motor Trend Truck of the Year and Car of the Year for 2016.
Volvo’s XC90 was named Motor Trend’s SUV of the Year.
The winners were announced this week in the publication’s December issue.
Fast approaching its 50th birthday, the Camaro impressed the judges so much that it beat more than two dozen other automobiles for the Car of the Year title, including the Audi TT, BMW 7 Series, Honda Civic, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Mercedes-Benz GT S and Toyota Mirai, all of which were finalists in this year’s competition. The last time Camaro was named Car of the Year was in 1982, when the Z28 stormed across American roadways.
Judge Jonny Lieberman admitted to being surprised by a car that was supposed to be forever in the shadow of the Ford Mustang: “Before we started, had you asked any of us nine judges if the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro had a snowball’s chance in Hyundai’s desert proving grounds of winning our 2016 Car of the Year honors, almost all of us would have said no,” he wrote. “Most of us would have been surprised to even see the Camaro as a finalist.”
Built on an Alpha platform, the Camaro sports two versions. The RS version fits a 3.6-liter V-6 packing 335 horsepower under the hood. Its connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The SS model is what really got the judges’ collective hearts pumping. It’s loaded not only with a 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 that kicks hard with 455 horsepower but also with a 6-speed manual transmission.
Cars, trucks and SUVs were judged based on six criteria: advancement in design, efficiency, safety, value, engineering excellence, and performance of intended function. While automakers covet Motor Trend’s annual awards, which have been presented since 1949, being lauded with a trophy made of gold calipers doesn’t guarantee huge sales or long-term success. Volkswagen twice was named Car of the Year (2012 Passat and 2015 Golf), only to fall into disgrace with the discovery of intentional tampering of air-quality tests. Showroom fizzlers include the 2013 Tesla Model S and the 2011 Chevy Volt.
But with some 80,000 Camaros sold each year, GM’s Chevrolet division has a solid base on which to build.
It appears the market may be tilting the automaker’s way in the mid-size truck arena as well. Chevrolet reported sales of nearly 73,000 Colorado pickups in the first 10 months of 2015. What’s even more pleasing to GM execs is that its GMC Canyon (a sister vehicle to the Colorado), Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 were also Truck of the Year finalists, along with the Nissan Titan XD and Toyota Tacoma.
Volvo’s sleek XC90 won over the largest field ever in the SUV category, an indication of the popularity of SUVs and crossovers. Other finalists in that category included the Honda Pilot, Lincoln MKX, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class and Nissan Murano.