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2006 ICOTY Vehicle Nominees
by Martha Hindes

Minivan of the Year - 2006 Honda Odyssey
When going out into the world with a most precious cargo, it's only natural to want all available help in the process. For those seeking to be superbly passenger/progeny safe in a multi-use motoring fashion, there's an obvious answer: Honda's Odyssey, the Class of 2006's Minivan - Life Stage/Most Compatible category winner. Protection in perspective could be called a key to this redesigned-from-ground-up minivan. Starting with a more rigid structure, there are airbag systems for every seat in the house. Enhanced accident avoidance technologies abound, with tire monitors to warn of low pressure and runflat tires if one doesn't catch it in time. A rear view camera warns of hidden objects. And score a frontal crash test best pick victory from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Odyssey has some clever ideas and kicky titles for what it can do. Available, stowable 2nd-Row PlusOne is a mouthful. Translated: An extra seat to make room for eight. Third row Magic Seat equals single motion flip-and-fold when more space is needed for cargo. An in-dash glovebox has upper and lower levels. If young-uns need a secret place for special toys, there's an in-floor lazy susan to protect those treasures. Available DVD systems keeps squirming fussers in tow. And if someone wants to chat, but not with the chattering four-year-old in the rear? Satellite-connected navigation will hear and talk back on command with definitely adult preferences, like a Zagat's top-rated restaurant.
Honorable Mentions:

Mazda 5
Some will call it a minivan. Some won't. But serving one's life stage in a most compatible manner is what the new Mazda 5 does really well. It's a little less van-ish, a little more wagon-ish, a little smaller overall but with ample space for six (not the typical five or seven), and even that is "multi-adjustable." Seems that Mazda has chosen its own sense of very trendy style. The 2.3-liter four-banger gives it expected Mazda "zoom-zoom." Sliding doors are the only hint of its purpose.

Kia Sedona
When you're changing the most important thing you have, you make sure it's done right. That was Kia's challenge as it revamped its best seller Sedona minivan on an all new longer, wider platform. Apparently they got it right. RTM judges appreciated the added engine oomph, the greater legroom, the flip down/fold flat third row seating, a cleaner and trendier appearance overall, more features, and the promise that previous value and safety kudos would continue to be part of the deal.

Most Sex Appeal/Sports Car
Pontiac Solstice

Most Spirited/Entry-Level
Audi A3

Most Compatible/Minivan
Honda Odyssey

Most Versatile/Crossover
Dodge Magnum SRT 8
Most Respected/Luxury Car
Mercedes-Benz CLS500

Most Resourceful/SUV
Ford Explorer / Range Rover Sport

2006 ICOTY Awards Links