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2005 9th Annual International Car of the Year Awards
by Martha Hindes

Luxury Car - 2005 Jaguar XJ LWB
In a world of bling bling, few things bling more lavishly than a luxury car. They are the epitome of subtle, tasteful elegance that, on occasion, can surpass "peel me a grape" decadence yet remain grounded for their practical function as a way to go places in comfort and style. The true test of luxury is a balance of the best of all worlds and an innate ability to garner respect for doing it. For our luxury award winner, our natural choice is a legendary nameplate with extended credentials: The Jaguar XJ LWB (for long wheelbase), a five-inch lengthwise expansion of Jag's premium aluminum-bodied sedan. This largest-ever Jag has the most complete combination of all good things, the amenities, design, spaciousness and ability to perform as few other automobiles can.

This new flagship, in four iterations, is roomy and graceful, yet agile and a kick to drive. It packs a wealth of tradition and advancement into four different models, topped off with a performance Super V-8 tuned version and the gratifying Vanden Plas model, beautifully suited for lap-of-luxury limousine duty. Among amenities are two independent rear seat DVD systems, four zone climate controls, tray tables for keeping up with business, IPOD, MP3 and multi-media playback and Bluetooth-phone connectivity (available in March). Beneath is an authoritative 4.2-liter, V-8 powerplant with six-speed automatic. And as always, the look is distinctively Jaguar. Nothing else has the sculpted, undulating hood and slinky, sleek body lines that beckon "let's go."

Honorable Mentions:

Cadillac STS
Cadillac gives this wholly-redesigned luxury sports sedan a spirited edginess, delicious interior, excellent surround sound, and the confidence of a pair of gutsy, performance engines, including a smooth, 4.6 liter, 320 horsepower V-8, with all-wheel-drive option. Underpinning it is a picky driver's suspension choice: From supple to solidly performance-based. Combined, they ensure that luxury, function and fun can all reside in the same svelte package. When was a return to rear-drive ever so sweet?

Acura RL
Beautiful balance is an understatement for this revised luxury sedan, with marvelously smooth all-wheel-drive and manual-mimicing steering wheel paddle shifters for those bored with the five-speed automatic. Advanced electronics undergird everything in this smartly good looking package, even the road curve-following headlamp beams. Expect ample performance from the standard 3.5 liter V-6 engine, upgraded to 300 hp.

Car of the Year
Chrysler 300C

Truck of the Year
Hummer H2 SUT

Most Sex Appeal/Sports Car
Chevy Corvette

Most Spirited/Entry-Level
MINI Cooper Convertible

Most Compatible/Minivan
Chrysler Town & Country

Most Versatile/Crossover
Dodge Magnum
Most Respected/Luxury Car
Jaguar XJ LWB
Most Athletic/Pickup Truck
Ford F-250 Superduty

Most Resourceful/SUV
Land Rover LR3

2005 ICOTY Awards Links