Honda Civic, Volvo XC90 Named North American Car And Truck Of The Year – Awards Recognize Ability To Offer Segment-Busting Vehicles

The 2016 Honda Civic and Volvo XC90 won the 2016 North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year award respectively. The awards, which were announced at the Detroit Auto Show, were given to the vehicles for their extensive development, segment-busting features, and sensible performance.

The cars were among dozens of other models that the group, made up of 53 international automotive journalists from Canada and the United States, had to carefully sift through. The awardees were selected based on a number of different factors, including design, innovation, safety performance, handling, driver satisfaction, and value, reports Auto Evolution.

While the Car of the Year is the Honda Civic, it had to fend off tough competition from the finalists, which included the Chevrolet Malibu and Mazda MX-5 Miata. Similarly, Volvo XC90, which was crowned as the Truck of the Year, won against powerful contenders like Honda Pilot and Nissan Titan XD. Last year, the Volkswagen Golf and Ford F-150 were named Car and Truck of the Year, reports WXYZ.

A primary criterion mandated for awards was that the vehicle must be all new — merely making cosmetic changes wasn’t allowed. Additionally, simply throwing in upgrades to components and calling it a new car, as is the general norm followed by car makers, was grounds for disqualification. If the automakers wanted to submit their creations, the cars had to be built from ground up. The vehicles had to be redesigned from scratch and include features that are not just assistive in nature but also set new standards for innovation, coupled with enhanced driver and passenger safety. Although there are many top-of-the-line models that could have qualified, the price and affordability of the vehicles were major deciding factors as well.

The North American Car and Truck of the Year awards is now in its 23rd year, reported Yahoo News. The awards are quite unique in the United States because they aren’t given out by a single media outlet. Cars are independently judged by a group of experienced and well-versed automotive journalists. Additionally, these correspondents aren’t restricted to America. The awards are a culmination of joint scrutiny from car aficionados from the United States and Canada. Most of these journalists have devoted their entire journalistic careers to report about the automotive sector for reputed magazines, television, radio, newspapers and websites.

Since the awards are decided by an independent panel, the organizers accept no advertising, although carmakers try to capitalize on the marketing value of the honors, reported CBS Local.

Speaking about this year’s awards, Paul Sabatini, chairman of this year’s auto show, said car companies have spent a lot of money rebuilding their displays.

“The automakers spent over $200 million this year on new exhibits — when you build a new exhibit — just like anything, there could be little hiccups, but when you walked through this morning, it didn’t look like there was a problem anywhere.”

Interestingly, unlike other events, the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards are announced at the beginning of the event. Over the next two days, auto enthusiasts can expect over 40 unveils at the North American International Auto Show, added Sabatini.

“Ninty percent of those are worldwide unveilings – we’re pretty excited – the show floor looks absolutely unbelievable.”

According to MLive, the cars and trucks vying for the much-coveted award are sent out on a three-day road tour in what the team of reporters calls the “Hell Drive,” referring to the course’s proximity to Hell, Michigan. After the trip, the reporters award points based on their performance and features. They are allowed to distribute 25 points and can’t award more than 10 points to a single car or truck.

[Photo by Stan Honda/Getty Images]