North American Car & Truck of the Year for 2011

Not the new Explorer, but a cool picture nonetheless

I may be a few days late on this one, and I apologize; I just had to take a few days to catch my breath and calm down a bit.

The Detroit North American International Auto Show took place last week. Thankfully, it seems the auto industry is bouncing back from its dismal ’08-’09 year and really showing some potential for future models and success — and I mean that across the board. The American automakers took a real beating (not so much Ford, but the others for sure) and it was quite sad seeing GM and Chrysler’s empty section at the Montreal Auto Show with a simple sign stating they had no money to afford a display. It brought a tear to some journalist’s eyes …

OK, it didn’t, but I’m sure that’s the reaction they were going for.

Regardless, that was 2010, and this is 2011 and we’re moving forward and embracing change in the auto industry and embracing new technology and designs.

Or so I thought.

Finalists for the car of the year were the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan LEAF and Hyundai Sonata. OK, I get the LEAF and the Volt, but the Sonata? Maybe I’m crazy, but it seems to me that American auto journalists have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with A) American automakers and B) Hyundai. Why the fascination?! Last year it was the new Santa Fe that brought out the Kleenex boxes for them, and this year it’s the new “green” Sonata sedan that’s more dry and boring than a plate of dry toast. I just don’t see it.

What about the Nissan JUKE? What about the Mazda3? What about the Mazda2? The new Ford Focus? The new Jetta?

I’m sure you can all guess, oh faithful readers, the winner of the 2011 Car of the Year title.

Yup, the Chevrolet Volt.

I think I see where they’re going with this nomination. Their team lead, Stephen Wallace, called the Volt the “essence of the new GM” and I get that. I get that they need to rebuild, they need to come back from their black days of dispair and look to the future with bigger and brighter models and designs.

And yet, in my opinion, the Volt is just another Prius — and its old news. It’s been done. The Prius has been out for how many years now? My point exactly.

It’s not new, it’s not forward-thinking, and it’s not better than the LEAF in the EV department, not in looks and not in stats.

The LEAF will do 100 miles on a battery charge. The Volt will do 40 miles before it has to change to its gas-powered engine. The Volt is a hybrid, not a full EV, so I don’t even see how these two are really being compared at all.

In my opinion, the LEAF should have won Car of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show, and it should have one Car of the Year in MotorTrend. But then, who am I?

And truck of the year? Well, that choice I’m a bit happier about. The finalists in that category were the Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee (holy American-centric Batman!).

The Ford Explorer came out on top, and after taking a closer look at the vehicle myself (in person) I can attest to the win. Ford’s got a forward-thinking head on its shoulders and they know what’s up. They’re a Euro-minded American automaker with fantastic designs and green thoughts. There’s a reason Ford never had to ask for a bailout.

I really am glad the auto industry is looking at brighter days and the slump seems to have passed. The Big Three (or two, in my opinion) were the hardest hit, and it’s only natural that the Motown automakers were highlighted in Detroit, I just hope we can be a bit more worldly at the Montreal Auto Show this week. Fingers crossed.

Drive on,
– M.

~ by drivingmsmiranda on January 11, 2011.

One Response to “North American Car & Truck of the Year for 2011”

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