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2006 ICOTY Vehicle Nominees
by Martha Hindes

Sports Car- 2006 Pontiac Solstice
Sportscars are indeed a special breed, with taut skins, muscular bodies, limber frames. Swiftness is their inherent nature, gorgeousness their constant appeal. With a cat's claw grip they speed with abandon past the borders of boredom. They purr with performance and the throb of engine authority. So in choosing ICOTY's Sports Car champion with. of course, the Most Sex Appeal, was there any other choice? The winner: Pontiac Solstice, a natural selection of the very best. It's a sports car that wears a halo as big as Manhattan. Make that the state of California. Make it the entire U.S. and even points beyond. It's a neck-snapping magnet in an age of blase sophistication as busyness stops for a long. head turning stare. It makes those high up in behemoth sport trucks look down with evident envy as it hunts out the freedom of the uncumbered road ahead.

Designed from desire, Solstice holds unsuspected secrets. Both hood and trunk pop open -- quite literally -- from the extremities inward, clamshell style, to reveal a tightly-packed 2.4-liter Ecotec powerplant in front and ample storage for the retractable soft top in the rear. A short-throw, close-ratio five speed manual gets the most rear-drive muscle from the 177-HP rating. Interior gauges, done with motorcycle precision, make it easy on the eyes. So does the handsome leathered, glove-fit interior that hides any transition points in design from inside to out. It's doubtful one would take many necessities, since storage room is sparse -- overnight case space at best. But why bother? With Solstice, expect the world to part for your entry. Who needs mundane backups when you own the road.

Honorable Mentions:

Mazda MX-5 Miata
Mazda's MX-5 Miata, the car that almost singly ignited the roadster revival some two decades ago, is transformed - ground up. This third gen. is more dynamic and one-with-driver than ever. With track-tested sports car punch (a Mazda tradition) from the advanced 2.0-liter MZR, 170-HP aluminum engine, svelt looks, fresh and refined interior inspired by the original, and optional hard top, it again stakes claim - in six flavors - to owning the roadster road. When you're tops and want to stay there, this is the way to go.

Ford Mustang
With an all-new debut successfully under its belt, it was time for
Mustang to mix it up a bit if that's what die-hard devotees and intenders wanted. They did. They got. Check out the variety range, including the V-6 powered "Pony Package" with track-dominating GT-inspired suspension, wheels, grille with fog lamps and more. (BTW, there are plenty of V-8s around as well.) With its claim of appealing to the wallets of half the sports car customers in America a solid credential, RTM judges honor Ford Mustang's brash intention to add even more.

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