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ROAD & TRAVEL's 2003 International Car of the Year Awards
by Steve Siler

Amid a flurry of exciting entertainment and flashing lights, ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine celebrated its Class of 2003 Top 10 auto awards; the best of the best new cars and trucks on American roads, as well as the talented and passionate people behind them. RTMs Most Likely to Succeed Award winners were announced at a black-tie gala that coincided with the opening of the media days for the world's largest and most significant annual auto event, the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. The ceremony itself was no less than the grandest, glitziest, most well attended of any event in the publication’s 14-year history, and it is one that won’t soon be forgotten by all who were lucky enough to attend.

The 2003 Awards show, often referred to as the Academy Awards of Detroit, featured appearances from some of the biggest names in the auto industry, as well as state and national political figures and other prominent A-List personalities from within as well as without the automotive business.

This year's VIP list included U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Congressman John Dingell, Tom Purves, Chairman & CEO, BMW North America; Larry Yost, Chairman & CEO of ArvinMeritor Inc.; Dave Power, Chairman & CEO of J.D. Power and Associates, and Lynn Myers, General Manager of Pontiac-GMC.

RTM knew it had to pull out all the stops for the 2003 ceremony, which was held in a luxurious Renaissance Ballroom at the Detroit Marriott Hotel.

Beyond the cocktails, hors d’œuvres and smattering of VIPs, the event was flavored by the penetrating, get-down-and-boogie beat of a Motown band that performed musical adaptations of iconic pop hits as they applied to each of the 10 awards. The award categories themselves celebrate excellence in 10 distinctly different auto categories, including Most Likely to Change the World (eco-friendly), Most Likely to Survive Anything (SUV), Most Vivacious (entry-level), Most Athletic (pick-up trucks), Most Likely to Inspire Leadership (luxury vehicles) and everyone’s favorite, Most Sex Appeal (sports cars).


Winners were selected by RTM editors as best in class by meeting at least 7 out of 12 criteria listed below.

Entries must be brand new models, or if existing models, have significant changes in design or technology.

- Appealing to All
- Head Turning Ability
- Ergo- Friendly
- Style
- Performance
- Practical
- Affordable
- Safe & Dependable
- Proud To Be Seen In
- Fun Factor
- Very Cool

RTM’s top honor is, fittingly, the Most Likely to Succeed, awarded to a vehicle that excels in all 12 of RTM’s award criteria points (see sidebar).

Award winners are decided by a panel of judges that includes RTM’s distinguished auto editors as well as several other auto experts. The judges were charged
with the task of evaluating and ranking the vast pool of vehicles that are all-new or significantly enhanced for the 2003 model year. In all, eight winners took home trophies in the 10 categories (with one overachiever nabbing no fewer than three of the (jade crystal trophies). Results were tallied and verified by J.D. Power and Associates.

This 7th annual awards show just keeps on getting bigger in thanks to sponsor support from Yahoo! Autos, Detroit Marriott RenCen Hotel, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Subaru of America, ArvinMeritor Inc., Pontiac-GMC, GMAC, AutoNation, American Honda, BMW of NA, Mercedes-Benz USA, Nissan NA, Kia Motors, and Bridgestone/Firestone Tires.

So without further ado, read on to find out just which new cars and trucks have been designated the most promising automotive entries in the Class of 2003. And if you missed the party, sorry…there’s always next year.

A fork in the road....either navigate through our Class of 2003 winners by clicking on 'Start' or by selecting one of the 10 categories listed below!

Most Respected
Luxury Car of the Year
BMW 7 Series

Most Likely to Change the World
ECO- Friendly Car of the Year
Honda Civic

Most Likely to Survive Anything
SUV of the Year
Hummer H2