You already may be a winner!

Feb 2, 2011

Chevy’s Volt triumphed as Car of the Year and Green Car of the Year by Motor Trend and Green Car Journal, respectively, for 2011, even before consumers got behind the wheel of the production models. That’s like Miss Virginia winning the Miss America crown before she’s sashayed on stage in her sashed gown or treble-stepped an Irish jig.

Not to be left at the curb, Nissan’s electric LEAF won the race for the green across the Atlantic, being handed Europe’s Car of the Year 2011 crown on a collective total vote from 23 countries

Hyundai’s 2011 Sonata rode off with Automobile Magazine’s All Star because the sedan “emerged as an unquestioned leader in a segment that’s bursting with excellent automobiles,” and it was “painstakingly conceptualized, designed and engineered” to meet and exceed the “varied needs and wishes of demanding American buyers,” the magazine’s editors wrote.

Kelly Blue Book, now owned by AutoTrader.com, dubbed the Honda Odyssey “2011 Best Redesigned Vehicle” because it “improves on its predecessor in every way imaginable, offering a better-looking, more contemporary exterior design, a sumptuous interior stuffed with innovative features and class-leading fuel economy,” said Blue Book’s executive editorial director / executive market analyst.

The Blue Book folks also heaped praise on the Subaru brand this year because “Subaru tops Honda, Toyota and other usual suspects as our 2011 Best Resale Value Award recipient for best brand. How so? A styling renaissance is putting the vehicles on more shoppers’ radars, and what they’re discovering are cars and crossovers that are just plain nicer and better-built than they’ve long thought.” The Book also called BMW the 2011 Best Luxury Brand.

It was just a little too close to press time for the North American Car & Truck of the Year awards to be announced (Jan. 11), but last year Ford’s Fusion Hybrid got the top nod from the vote tally among “a jury of 49 veteran automotive journalists,” which also christened Ford’s Transit Connect as the 2010 North American Truck of the Year.

What about good ol’ American pickup trucks? Motor Trend, after its Volt accolade, took a safer, more traditional route in naming Chevy’s 2011 Silverado HD as Truck of the Year. Four Wheeler magazine placed its truck laurels on the roof of the 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, naming it Pickup Truck of the Year, which is different from Truck of the Year.

On the higher end, Jaguar’s 2011 XJ took the bright spot as Automobile Magazine’s 2011 All-Star. “The toughest part about this class is that it’s very hard for any one car to stand out in the crowd, and yet the XJ manages to do just that,” wrote the magazine. Bloomberg News’ automotive columnist took on the single-handed task of also crowning the new XJ as Executive Sedan of the Year. Not to left out, Popular Science had handed the almost-$73,000 car its Best of What’s New Award for 2010 in the Automotive Category.

The more ordinary mid-size Chevrolet Malibu sedan collected a 2011 Consumers Digest Automotive Best Buy as well as a Top Safety Pick for 2010 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Cheap, and good for you, too, that car.

Even Restyling magazine has run its own Restyling Awards, applauding the working folks who turn out hand-restyled trucks, cars, CUVs and SUVs. And our panel of judges openly notes it’s looking subjectively at each vehicle based on its appearance and what a restyler/jobber has done to it with aftermarket products. There’s no currying of manufacturer favor; in fact, manufacturers are excluded from participating in the contest.

And there are more awards, so many — too many — more.

It’s a wonder that with all these awards, praises and near-heavenly blessings from every corner of the automotive-following world, and with millions upon millions upon millions of dollars, pounds, Euros, rupees, yens and yuans on the line (some that might even find their way to the award-givers), how many grains of salt do we take to tip the scales of true belief, especially when some vehicles are widely and loudly lauded even before mass-assembled ones are driven by everyday consumers?