If the Car and Truck of the Year were picked the same way as Time magazine’s “Man of the Year”, the decision would have been a no-brainer. No car spent more time in the media spotlight this year 2010 than the highly controversial Chevy volt; on the truck side of the business, there was the equally polarizing Ford Explorer. Having been lucky enough to drive both, I can say that the awards came as no surprise, and I applaud both Chevrolet and Ford for winning their respective categories.
The Car of the Year award came down to the Volt, the all-electric Nissan Leaf and the new Hyundai Sonata. In any other year, the Sonata would have stood a better chance of taking COTY honors, since it really is a remarkable achievement from Hyundai. The award really came down to the VOlt versus the Leaf, and I’d like to think that the Volt won because it pushed the technology envelope just a little farther than the Leaf. The Volt is the best compromise between a a green vehicle and a practical vehicle, and earns the distinction of being the very first serial hybrid production automobile. Drive one when you get the opportunity, and I can guarantee you’ll be impressed at the Volt’s capabilities.
The Truck of the Year award was a contest between the new Ford Explorer, the new Jeep Grand Cherokee and the new Dodge Durango. As with the COTY award, no truck redesign was as revolutionary as the new Explorer, which evolved from a body-on-ladder frame SUV to a unibody crossover/SUV blend. I can tell you from personal experience that the new Explorer still works well off road, but (more importantly) it’s exponentially better on-road than the truck it replaces. Does it give up capabilities to the outgoing model? Yes, but not enough to have a substantial impact on Explorer sales. Besides, buyers who need an SUV with the ability to tow in excess of 5,000 pounds, or go rock crawling, can opt for the more off-road savvy Jeep Grand Cherokee.