Motor Trend’s “of the Year” winners – did they choose wisely?

As far as automotive awards go, Motor Trend’s “Of the Year” accolade is one of the biggest. It’s not an end-all, be-all title but it is a good indication of what one of the industry’s most widely read publications (aside from Hooniverse -KK) think to be the most important vehicles released this turn of the calendar. Last night, the company released its 2020 Car, Truck and SUV of the Year. The winners are below but we want to know if you agree with them. 

Up first is the 2020 Car of the Year: the C8 Corvette Stingray. The all-new ‘Vette provides a performance value proposition that simply cannot be ignored and as such it’s earned MT’s COTY honors. Aside from finally arriving after decades of speculation, the C8 is a massively important sports car in of itself. Never before have mid-engine dynamics been so accessible and never before has such a high level of performance been so inexpensive. I won’t even go so far as to say giving the C8 the crown is controversial; it is, truly, a disrupter in the segment, making other similarly-priced sporty offerings pale in comparison in many ways.

MT’s 2020 SUV of the Year is the Kia Telluride. It’s a vehicle that brings Kia into the next tier of what an SUV can offer, no longer simply being a strong value proposition but in being an honest, capable, and truly attractive fullsize crossover. The big Kia’s merits gave it the win by showing that the brand can build the best new SUV out there. And I can’t fault them; every time I see one on the street it catches my eye, and when Kamil reviewed one and I spent a few minutes poking around in one at this year’s NYIAS, we both came away very impressed. Apparently MT felt the same.

Last but not least is the 2020 Truck of the Year, the Ram Heavy Duty. Instead of being the heaviest-of-hitters when it comes to outright towing and payload, Ram spent its time developing a truck that consumers actually want to buy. And, crucially, actually want to spend time in. Put simply, the Ram HD’s interior is unmatched in the truck segment. Of course, the truck itself is strong; it can still do full-on, heavy-duty truck stuff right there with the best of them. It’s also priced equally as or even less expensive than its competitors, and proves to be the truck most of MT’s voters felt to be the best and most important of the year. As such, it won top honors.

So there we have it. Another year, another Motor Trend “Of the Year” in the books. This year’s selection isn’t about to spark debate and controversy, certainly nowhere near as much so as Road & Track choosing the Hyundai Veloster N as its Performance Car of the Year, but with standouts like those that won, it’s impossible not to choose them as the winners. What are your thoughts? 

 

24 Comments

  1. My expectation of Motor Trend is that they choose whoever has the biggest ad buy or the best junkets. Just look at some of the dogs that won COTY in the past

    1. Yeah, I dropped my Motor Trend subscription when the Chrysler Cirrus won and I got a magazine length ad for it.

    2. Not to piss on your conspiracy theory, but you may be getting the cart before the horse. Typically, the magazine notifies the winners prior to publication, and the auto makers THEN buy big ads to draw more attention to the honor.

        1. Only newly released models are eligible for COTY. When a shitty car is chosen as Car of the Year, it says as much about the rest of the market as it does about Motor Trend.

          I will, however, defend their choice of the PT Cruiser. Hindsight has not been kind to it, but when it came out, it was a huge deal. There were waiting lists. There were “market adjustments”. Honestly, if anything but the PT Cruiser had won, people would have cried foul.

          1. Not sure if it was MT or one of the other magazines, but at least one admitted that the award was bought and paid for in the past.

          2. The PT Cruiser was more styling and marketing than engineering. The 2nd generation Dodge Caravan in 1996 was a far more worthy candidate.

            Overall I think Car & Driver’s 10 best is more honest despite a massive bias towards Honda and BMW.

          3. The PT Cruiser was like that popular toy that your kid just HAD TO HAVE for Christmas one year. You stressed yourself out finding it, paid way too much for it when you did, and your child ended up playing with it for all of 12 hours before kicking it to the corner. You knew in your core that it sucked, but still felt compelled to buy it.

            The PT Cruiser was a Neon pig wearing retro lipstick, and that was all.

          4. So RCR was right, an icon of postmodernism, Culture is a snake eating its tail.

            For those who haven’t watched this yet, some master level stuff right here:

        2. I think hindsight is 20/20, and journalists are as fallible as the rest of us. Upon release, many cars that seem to be significant will in time reveal themselves to be unreliable, faddish, or simply forgettable.

          Besides, these “of the year” and “10 best” awards are simply designed to get attention and sell magazines– they don’t really mean anything. I personally don’t place much relevance on automotive journalists’ winners, preferring to take information from their evaluations and draw my own conclusions. More importantly, if I want a better opinion about a car, I go drive it.

          I get a big kick out of irate reader responses after “controversial” comparison tests. The very fact that people get pissed off about their favorites not getting first place is downright laughable. And the endless grumblings about manufacturer bias resulting from under-the-table influence, etc. are just sour grapes.

  2. This is almost what I expected. I figured the Supra would bring COTY honors. The C8 was the next logical choice. Real surprise is that the Supra wasn’t in the finals and the Kia Soul was.

  3. “Never before have mid-engine dynamics been so accessible and never before has such a high level of performance been so inexpensive” ..it’s an undoubtedly impressive, I think there might have been a bit of US centric-ness to this one. For acessibility – the ZZW30 (mk3) MR2 is a ridiculously, almost miata level friendly chassis. Also, while not as fast, what would have been the bang for buck of an SW20 (mk2) MR2 Turbo making 200bhp in an era when a Ferrari 348 just about made 300, not to mention running the quarter mile quicker?

    1. More selective memory because the MR2 was sold in the US. There was also the Fiero, but perhaps they are saying that didn’t offer mid-engined dynamics?

      1. Well aware of it, but there’s always a bit of parochialism with car magazines, like how Auto Motor und Sport will will generally favo German cars, and Autocar will tell us that this time Jaguar really do have a BMW beater, honest guv…

  4. I’m waiting for all the Tesla fanbois to bitch and moan about the Model 3 not winning.
    But even at that price it needs more consistent build quality and a better interior. It is up to early 2000s Kia standard, but that’s just not good enough.

    1. I think it was Autocar who made the point recently that they were testing a pre-production Polestar and Polestar were apologising that it wasn’t finished and would be better, yet was better than a production Model 3. I think anyone buying one is buying the automotive equivalent of a persistently “early access” videogame. You paying to be a beta tester, but as long as people keep buying in, there’s no reason to ever offer a finished product.

      1. Having just looked at the door shutlines on a neighbor’s Model X, I might have to revise my statement to ‘1990s Kias’ or even 1980s.

  5. I generally ignore any media-ordained “victories”. While is a definitive winner in a drag race, the result of a subjective magazine competition is only a reflection of the opinions generating the article. These winners are no more significant than me winning our neighborhood chili cook-off last weekend. So a select group of people thought yours was better… who cares?

    The goal of automotive magazine journalists should be to provide extensive comparisons (both objective and subjective) and let the readers decide their own winner. Regardless how explicit they define their selection criteria, no single set of measurements is going to define everyone’s values. They should focus on evaluation, not determination. In truth, the real victor is whose car leaves the dealership the fastest, and that has nothing to do with “of the year” honors.

  6. Motor Trend’s “Of The Year” problem is that it only applies to whatever’s new for that year – while I don’t think any of these will look like catastrophic mistakes in 30 years, only the Corvette feels like something important. While they’ve made mistakes, I do like Car & Driver’s 10 Best because at least it’s a little better to acknowledge ongoing excellence. If a car that came out four years ago is still a better choice than the new hotness, that should be celebrated.

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