January 7, 2003

Mini Cooper, Volvo XC 90 win N.A. Car and Truck of the Year awards

Detroit, Michigan – A group of American and Canadian automotive journalists has selected the Mini Cooper and Cooper S as the North American Car of the Year, and the Volvo XC 90 as the North American Truck of the Year.

The awards honour vehicles that set new standards or will become benchmarks in their classes. Jurors evaluate them based on criteria including innovation, design, handling, safety and value for the dollar.

The awards are unique because instead of being given by a single publication, radio or television show they are given by 49, full-time automotive journalists from the United States and Canada representing magazines, newspapers as well as radio and television programs.

The jurors voted in December, sending their ballots directly to Deloitte & Touche, the accounting firm. The ballots were counted by Richard Gabrys, the vice chairman of Deloitte, who kept the winners secret until a news conference on Sunday at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) press preview in Detroit. While announced at the world-class auto show, the awards are independent and the NAIAS is not otherwise involved.

To be eligible, a vehicle must be “substantially new.” Cars must have sales reasonably expected to exceed 5,000 a year and sales of trucks must exceed 2,000 a year.

Candidates for the 2003 North American Car of the Year were the BMW 7-Series, Honda Accord, Honda Civic Hybrid, Infiniti G35, Mazda6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Mini Cooper and Cooper S, Nissan 350Z, Pontiac Vibe, Saab 9-3, Saturn Ion and Toyota Matrix.

Candidates for the North American Truck of the Year were the Ford Expedition, Honda Element, Honda Pilot, Hummer H2, Kia Sorento, Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus GX 470, Lincoln Aviator, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Murano, Subaru Baja, Toyota 4Runner and Volvo XC90.

The awards were first given in 1994 and were patterned after the Car of the Year award given in Europe.

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