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Every year, a compelling array of state-of-the-art automobiles hits the road, ready to please consumers with any variety of transportative needs, from the most utilitarian of purposes to the most passion-imbibed pursuits of thrills.

Since ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine's International Car of the Year Awards were created, some 8 years ago, dozens of cars have received accolades from a distinguished panel of journalists pulled from all types of automotive and lifestyle publications. But what makes RTM's awards so special is how they recognize the merits of each vehicle within the context of the reasons for which they were created. In other words, we ask the question, "So they do that they are supposed to do?"

Therefore, minivans and pickup trucks do not duke it out with sports cars and luxury cars for just one award-rather, there are nine distinct categories wherein they each get a chance to prove their might among their peers. That said, the vehicles that manage to somehow do everything well are nominated for our top award, Car of the Year.

RTM's International Car of the Year 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 2004 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 Detroit Police Chief Ella M. Bully-Cummings; Tom Purves, Chairman & CEO, BMW North America; Mike Jackson, Chairman & CEO, AutoNation; Kathleen Ligocki, President & CEO, Tower Automotive; Barry Meguiar, President & CEO of Meguiar's; John Middlebrook, VP Vehicle Brand Mkg. & Corp Advertising, General Motors; Thomas J. Shaver, Sr. Partner, J.D. Power and Associates; Michael E. Martini, President Consumer OE of Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire; Mark LaNeve, Cadillac General Manger; and Brent Dewar, Chevrolet General Manager.

RTM knew it had to pull out all the stops for the 2004 ceremony, which was held in a luxurious Renaissance Ballroom at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center Hotel.

Award winners were decided by a panel of Jury 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, nine winners took home trophies in the 10 categories (one overachiever won two categories, including the top prize of Car of the Year). Results were tallied and verified by J.D. Power and Associates.

This 8th annual awards show just keeps on getting bigger in thanks to sponsor support from Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center Hotel, Bridgestone/Firestone Tires, General Motors, Dolby Laboratories, Ford Motor Company, American Honda Motor Company, ArvinMeritor Inc., BMW NA, GMAC Financial Services, Hyundai Motor America, Kia Motors America, Mercedes-Benz USA, NAWBO - Greater Detroit Chapter, Nissan North America, Inc., Subaru of America, Tower Automotive, AutoNation, Bose Corporation and Meguiar’s Inc.

2004 is an especially big year, given the slew of groundbreaking new products that have redefined what is possible in nearly every automotive genre. Naturally, that made it tough for the judges to decide who is the best of the best for 2004. So read on to find out who rose to the top to earn this year's Car of the Year Awards from ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine.

A fork in the road....either navigate through our Class of 2004 winners by clicking on 'Start' or by selecting one of the 10 categories listed below!

International Car of the Year
Car of the Year
Cadillac XLR

Most Sex Appeal
Sports Car of the Year
Cadillac XLR

Most Respected
Luxury Car of the Year
Jaguar XJ

Most Dependable
Sedan of the Year
BMW 5-Series

Most Spirited
Entry-Level Car of the Year
Dodge SRT-4

Most Compatible
Minivan of the Year
Nissan Quest

Most Versatile
Crossover/Sport Wagon of the Year
Chrysler Pacifica
Most Memorable
Classic Car of the Year
Chevrolet SSR
Most Athletic
Pickup Truck of the Year
Ford F-150 FX4

Most Likely to Survive
SUV of the Year
Volkswagen Touareg