2007 Car of the Year Awards Buyer's Guide by Martha Hindes
Perfection can be gauged in several ways. By the ambience it exudes. By the wealth it accumulates. Sometimes it's a hint of delight, a gasp of breathless attraction, or a wisp of affection that flirts with our senses. Above all, it's that intangible quality that can garner honors for being just right, at the right time and in the right place.
For the 11th consecutive year, ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine has sought out the best of the best to honor above all the rest with its International Car of the Year awards (ICOTY). In an increasingly populated landscape where cars and their truck brethren have been propagating with amazing speed, adding new names, genres and advanced technologies at the seeming blink of an eye, it can be difficult to distinguish the truly special from the almost or apparent ones.
While appearances do make a difference, the defining moment comes when all elements combine as one. Beyond the thrill of the drive, there's the luxury of the sensual touch, the intelligence of design, the foundation of strength that carries us forward into a future of driving fun, purpose and pampering.
For the third time, RTM added trucks to its legendary list of winners with a Truck of the Year honoree, along with its superb Car of the Year winner. Both were announced at the star studded, black tie ICOTY 2007 celebration with all the Academy Award-style glitz and glamour of a Hollywood or Cannes film festival celebration, to a backing of the tones by The Jerry Ross Band. The annual ceremony has become a legendary kickoff for Detroit's international vehicle show held every January, that plays out a festival of design temptation, multifaceted use and road dominating power to a worldwide audience of industry professionals and journalists.
Once again, the efforts of advertisers to tease and tempt our sensibilities -- the heartbeat of any vehicle campaign -- were recognized with RTM's third annual HEART STRING Award for the most compelling vehicle commercial. This year's winner was Ford Motor Co.'s "Father & Son," by JWT ad agency. The tribute was sponsored by Bridgestone Firestone Tires.
The industry's fabled "Mr. Curmudgeon" was honored with RTM's third annual Lifetime Achievement Award. Spy photographer and auto journalist Jim Dunne, who has accumulated numerous publication affiliations after his name including Popular Mechanics, has been known to climb a tree or two to catch the latest and greatest auto company secrets coming down the road -- earning great respect for his incredulous ingenuity. Dunne has set the longtime standard for just about every aspiring auto journalist and photographer hoping to join the tire kicking crew.
Once again, honors were handed out at Detroit's landmark Marriott Renaissance Hotel that anchors the city's downtown riverfront. And again, it launched a series of frenetic days as the industry kicked off its annual international vehicle event. Those who attended gave round after round of applause during the presentations, sparked by verbal sparring and humor, as each winner in ten separate categories was unveiled under the glare of spotlights. The Top Honors for Car of the Year went to Lexus for its stunning, seductive fourth generation LS 460. Honored for Truck of the Year was Chevrolet's newly revised Silverado pickup truck, a heart-pounding powerhouse designed for purpose and a pleasurable ride.
Those vehicles that touched our emotions as distinctive category winners: Luxury Car - Most Respected, Lexus LS 460; Crossover/Wagon - Most Dependable, Mazda CX7; Sedan - Most Dependable, Toyota Camry; Minivan/Life Stage - Most Compatible, Hyundai Entourage; Sports Car - Most Sex Appeal, Jaguar XK/XKR; Pickup Truck - Most Athletic, Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab Z-71; SUV - Most Resourceful, GMC Yukon and Entry-Level - Most Spirited, Mazdaspeed3.
The ceremony, filmed by Detroit's CBS affiliate, will be rebroadcast as a TV special to air at noon on January 14, 2007.
Movers and shakers from the auto industry and beyond attended and participated in sharing the honors, bringing an aura of achievement to the festivities. VIPS on hand to share handshakes and camaraderie included: Chief Ella Bully Cummings, Detroit Police Department; Jim Ellison, Mayor, Royal Oak, Michigan; Brenda Lawrence, Mayor, Southfield, Michigan; Marti Eulberg, Vice President, Marketing and Sales, Jaguar NA; Barry Meguair, President & CEO, Meguair's Inc.; Irma Elder, President and CEO, Elder Automotive Group; Irv Miller, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Toyota Motor Sales USA and Brian Colianni, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sales, Mazda North American Operations.
A prestigious list of companies representing the top echelon of auto and business worlds provided sponsorship for the 11th annual event. They are: DaimlerChrysler Corporation, Bridgestone Firestone Tires, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, OnStar, American Suzuki Motor Corporation, Intrapromote, Bose Corporation, Subaru of America, American Honda, Automotive Women's Alliance, BMW North America, Hyundai Motor America, Mazda North American Operations, Mercedes-Benz USA, Nissan NA, AutoTrader.com, Car Crazy Central, JWT, The Women's Automotive Association International and U-Haul International.
Media partners for the event include AutoTrader.com, Edmunds.com, MSN Autos and Popular Mechanics.
To determine the winners, a "who's who" list of RTM editors took on the task with dedication and determination, checking a myriad of telling points to gauge the very best.
Jurors, including Road & Travel Magazine Editor-in-Chief and event host Courtney Caldwell, were: Kevin Smith, editorial director, Edmunds.com and ICOTY 2007 co-host; David E. Davis Jr., Editor-in-Chief, Winding Road Magazine; Denise McCluggage, auto writer, Auto Week; Ann Job, MSN Autos; Ken Gross, Robb Report; Bob Plunkett, automotive syndicated columnist; Cheryl Jensen, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times; Dan Wiese, St. Louis Post Dispatch; John McElroy, host of Autoline Detroit, Perry Stern, Editor MSN Autos and B.J. Killeen, nationally syndicated Drivers Talk Radio.
Votes for the 2007 awards were officially tabulated and kept a well-guarded secret by J. D. Power and Associates. That ensured results would be valid and kept secret.
With fanfare and excitement, RTM proudly shares its winners: