International Truck of the Year
Chrysler Town & Country Minivan
by Martha Hindes
decades there was a rather singular perception
about trucks. They fought through barely
passable roads to deliver goods or haul
work crews to sites. They endured hours
of daily driving duty. They hid behind
fences and in garages when their shift
was done and respectable transportation
to a more civilized function was needed.
That has changed as the category of trucks
began to branch out in different directions
to include sport utilities, crossovers
and minivans. Helping propell this change
is the 2008 ICOTY Truck of the Year winner,
the Chrysler Town & Country.
Chrysler Touts Town & Country as 2008 Truck
of the Year
Chrysler's legendary minivan is no stranger to popularity or ingenuity. However, something special was added to bring it top honors for 2008. By going beyond the limits of traditional thinking, Chrysler brought a daring, undaunted new Town & Country that offers everything including the proverbial dining room table.
Previous versions had established the boundaries for making the most of a utilitarian, sliding-door vehicle by offering expansive room for kids or cargo. Additionally, it was easy to load up with packages (some hidden beneath the floor) and served as a functional home base on a country-wide driving tour. The genius factor that appeared in 2008 is Swivel 'n Go, with seats that turn to face the rear row and a removable game/dining/work table.
Chrysler hasn't rested its laurels on a single, well-executed conviction. Added as well are dual DVD screens that let the young stay occupied separately without turning game time into a fight. Voice activated navigation with real-time traffic access, pinpoint lighting, dual-zone temperature controls and electronic stability among safety items enhance this revival. Besides, it's packaged with a range of engines, including a 3.3-liter flex fuel capable V-6, which offers mileage in the 17-23 mpg range for a base price at $23,190. We say it's no wonder this home on the highway captured the 2008 ICOTY Truck of the Year accolades.
Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
Getting the best gas mileage in a full-size sport utility takes a special kind of technology that has been evolving mostly in small autos. In introducing a hybrid version of its full-size sport utility Tahoe, Chevy has made a statement that fuel gains in large vehicles might account for more environmental protection than from a comparable number of smaller vehicles. The Tahoe Hybrid doesn't skimp on driving characteristics or performance in spite of its earth-saving ways. It's designed to be seamless except for the fascinating electronic gauge that shows hybrid activity on navigation screens. As a runner up for Truck of the Year, and 2008 SUV winner, the Tahoe Hybrid scores twice in the 2008 ICOTY rankings.
Can a crossover be considered sexy? Mazda seems to achieve sexiness in almost every vehicle it creates. Despite its larger size for seven and distance driving capabilities, this is true for the Mazda CX9 as well. Maybe that's a reason we couldn't resist adding this driver's crossover as a top three contender for ICOTY's 2008 Truck of the Year honors. Of any automaker, Mazda has learned how to make size look nimble, sleek, attractive and aerodynamic. The CX9 performs all of this at an affordable price ($30,035 base). We love the CX9's quick change ability, agile road manners and svelte shape from almost any angle. It loves us back with a huge helping of just plain fun, underscored by its 3.7-liter, 273-horsepower powerplant that delivers 16/22 mpg. Oh yes, its "Zoom Zoom" is still very much intact.