Best trucks, cars of the year: Take your pick, restylers

Jan 5, 2012

The best of the best. The hottest of the hot. The picks of the litter.

The awards season has begun and the awards bestowers have begun to hand out their laurels to the trucks, cars, SUVS and crossovers they deem to be the top vehicles.

And though several already might have the bells, whistles and electronics and comforts to capture the hearts and dollars of their targeted consumers, many are clearly designed for aftermarket improvements.

So, choose the award-winner that you think will best woo new-vehicle buyers to the showroom and, afterward, come to aftermarket professionals to customize their rides to better fit their wants and needs.

To begin, it’s all about luxury. Autoweek magazine’s editorial staff gets behind the wheel to run through its checklist to find the cars its staff likes best. This year, the Audi A7 and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque did just that, capturing the publication’s Best of the Best/Car and Truck for 2012.

“With the A7, Audi has crafted a vehicle with few true peers by starting with stunning luxury-sedan design and marrying that to the functionality of a hatchback,” said Autoweek editor Wes Raynal.  “The Evoque retains the luxury, refinement and offroad capability we’ve come to expect from Land Rover, combined with compact dimensions, carlike ride and efficiency that redefine the brand.”

Editors graded vehicles on drivetrain, ride quality, handling, exterior, interior design and fun factor. Points were tallied for each vehicle, and the car or truck garnering the most points took the win.

To be eligible for Best of the Best honors, a vehicle had to be completely or substantially new — minor facelifts or mechanical updates didn’t count — and available to the general public. Cars are defined as sedans, coupes, convertibles, hatchbacks and wagons, while trucks included classic pickups, crossovers, minivans and SUVs.

The A7 and the Evoque were selected under the radar, without any manufacturer knowledge. No automaker saw the results, lobbied or provided specially prepped test vehicles.

Meanwhile, the editorial group of Autobytel Inc., an online firm that aids consumers to research and find information for vehicles they’d like to purchase, anointed its 2012 Car and Truck of the Year Awards to, respectively, the 2012 Hyundai Veloster and 2012 Ford F-150 EcoBoost. The editors drove hundreds of vehicles and have chosen this year’s winners based on their game changing potential, advances in design and overall efficiency.

The group also offered top “of the Year” awards in a variety of 2012 categories: Compact Car: Hyundai Veloster;Convertible: Audi R8 Spyder;Sedan: Kia Optima;Luxury Car: Audi A7; SUV: Jeep Wrangler; Luxury SUV: Range Rover Evoque; Crossover: Mazda CX-5; Sports Car: Ford Mustang Boss 302; Alternative Fuel Car: Toyota Prius V; Pickup Truck: Ford F-150 EcoBoost; Van/Minivan: Honda Odyssey; and Wagon: Cadillac CTS Wagon.

On Jan. 9, the 2012 North American Car and Truck Of the Year <NACTOY) will be announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The awards are unique because instead of being given by a single media outlet they are awarded by a coalition of automotive journalists from the United States and Canada representing magazines, television, radio, newspapers and websites. The awards are financed by the jurors’ dues; NACTOY does not accept advertising from automakers.