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Car Chronicles Blog: North American Car And Truck Of The Year–My Winners!!

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(Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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By Jeff Gilbert, WWJ Auto Reporter

DETROIT (WWJ) - I’m thinking that it’s going to be a good year for Chevrolet when the North American Car and Truck Of The Year Awards are handed out on January 13th.

If I was the only voter, the Chevy Impala would win Car of the Year, and Truck of the Year would go to the Chevy Silverado.

But, I’m one of fifty “jurors” for the award, and I’m betting it will be the Corvette and Silverado.

Either way, Chevy wins, and they deserve it this year.

The first round of ballots had to be in by 5 PM on Friday, December 6th. Three finalists will be announced on the tenth. Then we vote again.

We have 25 points to allocate in the first round, 10 in the second. We can’t give anybody more than 10 points, and can only do that once.

These are the instructions given to us by the steering committee:

As you know, we are trying to honor vehicles that have raised the standards and have become new benchmarks in their class. Consequently, the winners may not be your personal favorites.

Vehicles should be compared against other vehicles in their class, not against other nominees, unless, of course, they are in the same class.

As noted in our rules and regulations, each vehicle should be judged on criteria including: general design, safety, fuel economy, handling and general roadworthiness, performance, comfort, assembly quality, functionality, technical innovation, driver satisfaction and price.

Please consider value for the dollar as well as affordability because we would like this award to be meaningful to the largest possible number of consumers.

And here’s how I distributed my points in the first round of balloting:

Chevy Impala – 10 points
Chevy Corvette – 8 points
Cadillac CTS – 7 points

Chevy Silverado – 10 points
Jeep Cherokee – 9 points
Subaru Forester – 6 points

I gave the Impala the edge over the Corvette because we were asked to consider “value for the dollar, as well as affordability.” That means as awesome as the Corvette is, the Impala has more impact.

In a head to head comparison of the Impala, and other big cars, the Chevy wins hands down.

And if you compare the last generation Impala—essentially a rental car—with this one, the difference is amazing. And throw in the fact that Consumer Reports named the Impala the best family sedan, the first time that honor has gone to an American brand vehicle in two decades.

On the truck side, I had to do a lot more thinking, and a little more driving.

I really like the Cherokee. But, I had to step aside and see which vehicle best fit our criteria. The Silverado set new standards in fuel economy, handles well, and comes in a lot of configurations. It knows its mission and it nails it.

The Cherokee has a beautiful interior, a polarizing style and a lot of new technology. But, the fuel saving 9 speed transmission takes some getting used to, and I had a few technology issues during my test drive.

That’s why, despite my love of the Cherokee, I had to give the extra point to the Silverado.

As for a few of the “honorable mentions,” I also really liked what Cadillac did to the CTS. So, I felt a need to give it my extra points. Cadillac has made a vehicle that can compete with the imports. But the Impala and Corvette are further ahead of the competition.

On the truck side, I had six more points to give, and felt the Subaru Forester was worthy of a “job well done” message, if not quite up to the level of the other two vehicles.

I’m not really interested in starting a debate over the merits of different vehicles. This is a very subjective area.
But, I wanted to give you a look into some of the logic behind my decisions, and understand that I’ve given a lot of thought to this.

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Email: jdgilbert@cbs.com
Facebook: facebook.com/carchronicles
Twitter: @jefferygilbert

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