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January 25, 2012

2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Wins Most Earth Friendly Car of the Year

2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI - 2012 Earth, Wind & Power Car of the Year - Most Earth Friendly

  • Volkswagen Passat TDI Road Test Review by Martha Hindes

    With hybrid and electric autos taking the share of attention in America these days, is there room for a rebel with a cause? What about a family-sized sedan that takes a different direction from the crowd and plants its reputation solidly on the least popular auto technology, but one of the most promising to come down the interstate in a long time? What if it offered more interior room for five, at less or comparable cost, with higher mileage than its competitors down the block. That might sound like the 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI turbo diesel.

    After a year on the sidelines, the front-drive Passat is making reappearance on the national scene for 2012 with a number of changes. A noticeable transition is its switch from more limited near-luxury level status to a mainstream, competitive cost, made-in-the U.S. participant. This isn't your mother's Passat of yesterday with a hint of snob appeal and exclusivity. This newest offering is meant more for the masses. And if Volkswagen got it right, not only will it put more Passats on the road but will help to bring diesel autos to the forefront.

    Diesel technology has been more rare in America than in other countries for a number of reasons. A major one is the thankfully faded memory of earlier diesel auto tailpipes that belched thick smoke while their engines grunted with the effort of climbing almost any hill. About five years ago industry regulators got serious and began phasing in mandated Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel with more stringent emissions standards that included scrubbing away those annoying bits of grit diesels used to leave behind. Companies like VW, mostly the European brands, responded by bringing in engines that run clean and lean, while generally gaining higher mileage than their gas-fueled counterparts.

    While that might seem like a pretty strong claim, let’s compare some results. The often heavily tax incentivized hybrid cars that mate gasoline engines with battery-powered electric motors have reached the 40 mpg mark and in a few cases more, after years of costly development and continuing market hype. Electric only autos coming on scene require a place to plug in. But the TDI (for turbo diesel injected) version of Passat rips off a cool 31/43 miles to the gallon of diesel fuel with manual transmission, or a no-slouch 30/40 with automatic, all riding on a 2.0-liter, 140-horsepower inline four. The Selective Catalytic Reduction System ensures this earth friendly clean diesel vehicle meets the emissions requirements of all 50 states.

    Those are some of the reasons the Earth, Wind & Power award's jurors chose the Volkswagen Passat TDI as the 2012 Earth, Wind & Power Car of the Year for Most Earth Friendly.

    According to Courtney Caldwell, founder and director of the awards and publisher of Earth, Wind & Power Magazine, the award determined by a field of longtime, well-known auto journalists goes to the production vehicle that contributes most to eliminating pollution and protecting the environment while providing the most exciting, pleasurable and useful driving experience around.

    “The 2012 VW Passat TDI beat out its competition by a landslide,” said Caldwell. "The vehicle not only is fuel efficient and eco-friendly, but its styling, performance, power and pricing leaves one feeling like they’re driving a high performance vehicle with no tell tale signs of lag or noise that other diesel engine vehicles tend to still leave behind." [Full story]

     

January 23, 2012

2012 Hyundai Veloster Wins International Sporty Coupe of the Year - Most Personality

2012 Hyundai Veloster - 2012 International Sporty Coupe of the Year - Most Personality

2012 Hyundai Veloster Named
2012 International Sporty Coupe of the Year
- Most Personality
-

by Road & Travel Magazine

Hyundai Veloster Road Test Review by Martha Hindes

If you're an auto company with a name no one can pronounce correctly, is it any wonder you'd have a few quirks in product as well? We'll address the question directly to the Hyundai (like Sunday) Veloster, the Korean automaker's new, kinda kinky, definitely robust and offbeat little sporty coupe -- or something. The 2012 Hyundai Veloster fits those descriptives like a `T.

Range Rover Evoque Named 2012 International Truck of the Year - Road & Travel MagazineThe designation fits this newcomer so well and has so many interesting facets, that it just won, hands down, the 2012 International Sporty Coupe of the Year -- the one code named "Most Personality." According to ICOTY founder and Road & Travel Magazine publisher Courtney Caldwell, the awards measure the emotional impact a new or substantially revised vehicle has on the psyche. Does it get in your face, grab your attention, demand to be noticed, intrigue you beyond curiosity? In the case of Most Personality touch points, the Hyundai can answer "Yes" times four.

Caldwell knows how such an emotional connection can win an unmatched sense of loyalty from consumers that few products can claim. "The ICOTY Awards are not about power and performance, but rather about personality, passion and personal lifestyle," said Caldwell.

Bridgestone, longtime lead sponsor and supporter of the ICOTY Awards, recognizes the consumer-product relationship as critical to vehicle success. “Bridgestone is proud to support the ICOTY awards, and applauds the Bridgestone Tire - Proud Sponsor of the 2012 International Car of the Year Awards Presented by Road & Travel Magazineefforts of Hyundai that like our company demonstrates a strong commitment to innovative technology,” said Michael Martini, president, Consumer OE, Bridgestone Americas. “Through the combined efforts of everyone in the auto industry, and led by automakers like those being recognized in the 2012 International Car of the Year Awards, we will continue to meet and exceed the demands of the motoring public.” Full Story

January 20, 2012

Porsche 911 Wins 2012 International Sports Car of the Year - Most Sex Appeal

2012 Porsche 911 Named 2012 International Sports Car of the Year - Most Sex Appeal - by Road & Travel Magazine

2012 Porsche 911 Named International Sports Car of the Year
- Most Sex Appeal -

by Road & Travel Magazine

2012 Porsche 911 Road Test Review by Martha Hindes

What do Carly Simon, Heinz Ketchup and the 2012 Porsche 911 have in common? In a word, "Anticipation!" OK, so when Simon wrote the song back in 1971 she wasn't referring to a subsequent ketchup commercial using her music, or a blazing fast sports car. But her wait for a late date must have been almost as frustrating as it was for Porsche fans who endured a long, long wait for the seventh generation of the classic auto that finally hit the ground running in September.

Porsche probably relished the ongoing drumbeat of speculation that had preceded the launch. Automotive experts had turned over just about every facet of the 911 Carrera as they speculated about the upcoming changes a full redesign would bring some two years in the future. Would the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera have cameras instead of side view mirrors? Would the manual trans be history in lieu of (gasp) a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the bane of some enthusiasts who cringe at the idea of not having perceptible shift gates to rip through?

Seems the longing was well worth the wait. While it must be a challenging job redefining something with such iconic status, the wizards at Porsche have managed to refine the 911 in such a way that it has kept its hot cool without disrupting its lofty aura. Since the agonizing delay finally ended at its Frankfurt, Germany motor show reveal late last fall, it has reached a new level of respect. And adoration.

Range Rover Evoque Named 2012 International Truck of the Year - Road & Travel MagazineFor ICOTY judges, this all must have been somewhat amusing, since those autophiles know the true meaning of "gotcha" goes well beyond a stat sheet when it comes to a vehicle's allure. ICOTY -- short for International Car of the Year awards -- metes out honors based on that indefinable, yet tantalizing quality a car can have that makes it simply delicious to be around and breathtakingly lusty to drive. Those judges in fact found the new 2012 Porsche Carrera 911 so appealing, they voted it the International Sports Car of the Year for its high sex appeal X factor, eliciting the most passion of all 2012 vehicles.

ICOTY founder and Road & Travel Magazine publisher Courtney Caldwell knows well the impact such allure can bring. People who have a true emotional attachment to their vehicles tend to stay in the fold rather than straying towards other brands, whether it's a budget compact or a sports car with a six-digit price tag, she said. The automaker that can tap into that emotional passion has half the game won when it's time for someone to look at a new set of wheels.

"The ICOTY Awards are not about power and performance, but rather about personality, passion and personal lifestyle," said Caldwell.

Bridgestone, longtime lead sponsor and supporter of the ICOTY Awards, recognizes the consumer-product relationship as critical to vehicle success. “Bridgestone is proud to support the ICOTY awards, and applauds the Bridgestone Tire - Proud Sponsor of the 2012 International Car of the Year Awards Presented by Road & Travel Magazineefforts of Porsche that like our company demonstrates a strong commitment to innovative technology,” said Michael Martini, president, Consumer OE, Bridgestone Americas. “Through the combined efforts of everyone in the auto industry, and led by automakers like those being recognized in the 2012 International Car of the Year Awards, we will continue to meet and exceed the demands of the motoring public.”  Full Story

January 18, 2012

2012 Ford Focus Wins International Compact Car of the Year - Most Spirited

2012 Ford Focus - Wins 2012 International Compact Car of the Year - Most Spirited

2012 Ford Focus Named
2012 International Compact Car of the Year
- Most Spirited -

by Road & Travel Magazine

2012 Ford Focus Road Test Review by Martha Hindes

A funny thing happens every time we see the 2012 Ford Focus approaching. There's a little sense this isn't a Ford at all. There's this feeling of recognition when spotting the bib-like grille extending obliquely down the front of the face, the low-slung nose, the cat-like headlamps perched at the upper corners. It took a few nano-seconds after we first saw the car to understand what it reminded us of. (Of course, that distinctive bib is a trademark of Germany’s luxury Audi.)

Range Rover Evoque Named 2012 International Truck of the Year - Road & Travel MagazineFord's version of the bib front isn't an exact replica of the Audi, of course. The shape is different enough and with two lower vents close by, couldn't be called a copy. But we think someone at Ford would enjoy our reaction, especially since it endeared some of us so much to the look that we just named it the 2012 International Compact Car of the Year (ICOTY), AKA "Most Spirited."

Focus is most spirited, all right. And we love the attitude it exudes, which is a reason the ICOTY awards are given. According to ICOTY founder Courtney Caldwell (also publisher of Road & Travel Magazine) a cheeky bit of one-upmanship (deliberate or not) helps us love this car even more. After all, the purpose of the awards is to honor the qualities of new or newly refreshed vehicles for the emotion they bring out of us.

Caldwell knows how such an emotional connection can win an unmatched sense of loyalty from consumers that few products can claim. "The ICOTY Awards are not about power and performance, but rather about personality, passion and personal lifestyle," said Caldwell.

Bridgestone, longtime lead sponsor and supporter of the ICOTY Awards, recognizes the consumer-product relationship as critical to vehicle success. “Bridgestone is proud to support the ICOTY awards, and applauds the Bridgestone Tire - Proud Sponsor of the 2012 International Car of the Year Awards Presented by Road & Travel Magazineefforts of Ford Motor Company that like our company demonstrates a strong commitment to innovative technology,” said Michael Martini, president, Consumer OE, Bridgestone Americas. “Through the combined efforts of everyone in the auto industry, and led by automakers like those being recognized in the 2012 International Car of the Year Awards, we will continue to meet and exceed the demands of the motoring public.” Full Story

January 16, 2012

2012 Toyota Camry Wins International Sedan of the Year - Most Dependable

2012 International Sedan of the Year - Most Dependable by Road & Travel Magazine

2012 Toyota Camry Named International Sedan of the Year
- Most Dependable
-

by Road & Travel Magazine

 2012 Toyota Camry Road Test Review
by Martha Hindes

Range Rover Evoque Named 2012 International Truck of the Year - Road & Travel MagazineSolid and safe. Smooth and dependable. For years, Toyota's Camry has stroked those family sedan needs with loyal, uncompromising predictability. So what's changed? For starters, like the few-days-old year of 2012, a 2012 Toyota Camry has been born as a new, seventh generation model. And like some previously highly-acclaimed versions, it again has won the hearts and minds of reviewers. For 2012, it won top honors as the 2012 International Sedan of the Year (ICOTY) for Most Dependable. Not bad for a re-born, right?

The 2012 Toyota Camry is indeed most dependable. And we love the safety and reliability it exudes, which is the reason it won in its category. According to ICOTY founder Courtney Caldwell (and publisher of Road & Travel Magazine), winning 2012 Toyota Camry Wins International Sedan of the Year - Road & Travel Magazine the honor of most dependable vehicle of the year is one of the most important as it lets consumers know in a word that this is a vehicle they can trust and rely upon to get their loved ones to their destinations safety. After all, the purpose of the ICOTY awards is to honor the qualities of new vehicles that best reflect our emotional needs at a specific time in our lives and lifestyles. Full Story

January 12, 2012

2012 Audi A7 Named International Car of the Year

2012 Audi A7 - 2012 International Car of the Year - Road & Travel Magazine

2012 Audi A7 Road Test Review
by Martha Hindes

Automotive prestige sometimes comes in surprising packages. A slim, coupe line that hides the reality this is really a sedan. The ability to change one's underlying driving experience with chameleon-like ease. A glaring set of unmistakably identifiable headlamp eyes that announce, in one's rear view mirror day or night, it's best to pull aside and let a "real" car go by. Put those together in the new Audi A7 along with a wealth of its other talents, and the result should be predictable. How could any other vehicle have earned top honors as International Car of the Year for 2012? It couldn't. And didn't.

Range Rover Evoque Named 2012 International Truck of the Year - Road & Travel MagazineThe ICOTY honors, awarded each year to the most appealing auto on the planet, are sought out for their ability to identify that soul factor in vehicles that goes beyond the stuff of mechanicals and into the realm of desire. We're sure you know the synonyms: Being smitten, love at first sight, the kind of passion one would eagerly do penance for -- all those adjectives that make us glom onto something we idolize while remaining oblivious to what else is around.

Courtney Caldwell, who founded the International Car of the Year Awards (ICOTY) that honor the passion, presence and emotional punch that new vehicles can bring couldn't agree more. As the awards' executive producer and Road & Travel Magazine Publisher, she knows how such an emotional connection can win an unmatched sense of loyalty from consumers that few products can claim.

"The ICOTY Awards are not about power and performance, but rather about personality, passion and personal lifestyle," said Caldwell. "People develop a real emotional connection to their car for any number of reasons some of whom even consider it a member of their family," she muses.

Bridgestone, longtime lead sponsor and supporter of the ICOTY Awards, recognizes the consumer-product relationship as critical to vehicle success.

Bridgestone is proud to support the ICOTY awards, and applauds the Bridgestone Tire - Proud Sponsor of the 2012 International Car of the Year Awards Presented by Road & Travel Magazineefforts of Audi that like our company demonstrates a strong commitment to innovative technology,” said Michael Martini, president, Consumer OE, Bridgestone Americas. “Through the combined efforts of everyone in the auto industry, and led by automakers like those being recognized in the 2012 International Car of the Year Awards, we will continue to meet and exceed the demands of the motoring public.”  Full story

January 06, 2012

Range Rover Evoque Named 2012 International Truck of the Year

2012 Range Rover Evoque Wins 2012 International Car of the Year from Road & Travel Magazine

Range Rover Evoque Named 2012 International Truck of the Year

by Martha Hindes

Dwayne Duff said it best when he first got up close and personal with the 2012 Range Rover Evoque a few weeks ago. "Wow!" pretty much said it all. After examining the sweeping lines, the aggressive face, the black and red leather interior and handsome gauges, the Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan resident was well on the way to a decision. When he turns in his leased Cadillac SRX crossover next year, he'll be ready for Land Rover's dramatic new baby sport utility vehicle.

Duff's response to a first look at the Evoque in person, after scouring the internet for photos, wasn't unusual. As Road & Travel Magazine testers drove it around, we found it brought thumbs up gestures of approval, wide grins, women abandoning their shopping carts to get a closer look and even hoots of excitement. The Evoque isn't just another of those cookie cutter crossover vehicles. It's just smack down galvanizing.

Range Rover Evoque Named 2012 International Truck of the Year - Road & Travel MagazineIf fact the impact of this feisty newcomer is such an undeniable "gotcha" that a dozen ICOTY jurors found it so irresistible they named it Road & Travel Magazine's "International Truck of the Year" for 2012. And Kim McCullough, who is Brand Vice President of Land Rover, understands why people can't resist this all new small SUV that launches from Land Rover's traditional enthusiast base. "The breakthrough design and confident handling are undeniable and have led to a new generation of modern-day Land Rover enthusiasts," said McCullough, adding the coveted award is "a great way for the Land Rover brand to start off the New Year."

Courtney Caldwell, who founded the International Car of the Year Awards (ICOTY) that honor the passion, presence and emotional punch that new vehicles can bring couldn't agree more. As the awards' executive producer and Road & Travel Magazine Publisher, she knows how such an emotional connection can win an unmatched sense of loyalty from consumers that few products can claim. Full Story

December 05, 2011

2012 Honda Odyssey Road Test - Minivan of the Year

2012 Honda Odyssey Minivan Road Test Review by Martha Hindes

by Martha Hindes

Honda Odyssey Named 2012 International Minivan of the Year by Road & Travel Magazine

Road & Travel Magazine Names Honda Odyssey
2012 International Minivan of the Year

Imagine a bored nine-year-old counting mile after mile on a long road trip. Stationed next to an 11-year-old sibling would be worse. Watching a movie on drop-down video might seem an ideal peace maker, but not when each wants something different and age advantage usually wins. How to cope? Well Honda has a bang-up solution in its 2012 Odyssey minivan.

Someone in Honda's design department must have umpired such childhood video wars in the past before contributing a sensible solution. How about a drop-down screen for different flicks on each side with individual headset audio? That's one no-nonsense approach Honda uses to duel with minivan competitors.

Minivans aren't your traditional middle-of-the-night dream sequence autos that can make one weak in the knees at the prospect of owning one. (Too bad - A woman with a wriggling toddler in tow might explain why it should.) More styling zip was added during the Odyssey's major overhaul last year, including a bolder zigzag "lightning bolt" carved into the side, should boost that attraction faction. Full Review

September 27, 2011

Best Family Cars for 2011

U.S. News Names Best Family Cars for 2011

Best Family Cars for 2011 Awards

The awards identify cars that keep families safe, comfortable, on budget and happy. This year, the average American will spend almost two weeks in their car. In the right car, those two weeks can be time well-spent. In the wrong car, they can be downright miserable, especially for families. 

“Given all the time today’s families spend on the road, the family car is the new family room,” says Jamie Page Deaton, managing editor for U.S. News Best Cars. “Finding a car that’s safe, affordable and capable of keeping the whole family happy is a tall order. The Best Cars for Families Awards make it easy for families to find the right car for them, no matter their lifestyle.”

Buying a family car is a huge decision for your readers and the U.S. News Best Cars for Families Awards make choosing the right car easier. The full list of winners is below. Full List of Winners

May 16, 2011

2011 Jaguar XJ Sedan Road Test Review

2011 Jaguar XJ Sedan Road Test Review

2011 Jaguar XJ Sedan New Car Review

Dances on Pavement as New Luxury Performance Sedan

by Bob Plunkett

Jaguar XJ Named 2011 International Luxury Car of the Year 
Most Respected

Sensuously shaped sedans -- Jaguar's flagship XJ series in rakish new fastback style for 2011 with lightweight aluminum structural elements and a powerful engine lurking below the bulging hood -- park side by side on a block of Alta Loma Road just off the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, Calif.

Bridgesstone sponsors 2011 International Car of the Year AwardsA special thanks to Bridgestone Tire for sponsoring the 2011 International Car of the Year Awards.

With the push-button starter already engaged and the big engine purring, a stretched-wheelbase XJL Supercharged sedan we select for a drive -- wearing high-gloss ebony body paint and the leather-lined cabin trimmed in shades of caramel and sand -- is ready to roll. [Read full story]