ever there was an indication that design is
king, 2006 would have to be the benchmark year.
A profusion of shapes, sizes, sorts and subtleties
filled the landscape and a heady variety of
new cars and trucks offered something for just
about everyone. Power and performance were among
the pinnacle achievements, from engines that
shut partly-down when only loping drive force
was needed to the "green," gas-electric
halfbreeds that suddenly soared in popularity,
although horsepower guts and grit still dominated.
Styling was simply delicious, with a deli of
offerings delectable enough to make one wish
for an extra helping or two.
& TRAVEL Magazine was forefront again during the year
as the 2006 vehicle parade hastened by, choosing the most
tantalizing to test on America's highways and byways. It
was a dizzying task with irresistible choices lending ever
increasing and previously unimaginable technologies, usefulness
and overall appeal. As RTM reached a landmark decade of
selecting the brightest and best, it was time to share its
findings with the world at a star studded celebration honoring
its 10th consecutive awards selection of top autos and trucks.
Scores of world class vehicles have gained the coveted honor
in years past, and 2006 winners joined the select group.
the second year in a row, RTM chose a top truck
entry and announced winners for the coveted 10th
International Car of the Year and second International
Truck of the Year awards, accompanied by the bright
backing tones of the Jerry Ross Band. The honors,
given under the glare of spotlights, high energy
enthusiasm and grateful acceptances, took on the
feel of a black-tie Academy Awards ceremony. Indeed,
it was Detroit's academy for the best there is
and wit gained center stage again as RTM announced its second
annual HEART STRING Award for the most compelling car commercial.
The winner: Nissan's "Take me driving in your car,"
TV ad showed the super muscular 350 Z sports car casually
singing its way around town in a lazily humorous, "got
no cares" kind of way. It was an obvious stretch in
logic, but so warm and fuzzy no one cared. The commercial,
a deviation from Nissan's bold "SHIFT" theme of
late, had the same tongue-in-cheek feel of an earlier Nissan
ad theme: The fanciful dog pushing his owner, asleep in
a rolling lounge chair, down a traffic-filled road to the
nearest Nissan dealer.
in the world of autos was acknowledged as legendary "Mr.
Auto" and autophile David E. Davis was honored (and
roasted a bit) in a presentation of RTM's third annual auto
industry Lifetime Achievement Award. Of course there were
disclosures of some of the legendary leadfoot escapades
of Davis, of longtime Automobile magazine fame, who currently
is treading the automotive trails online.
awards ceremony, held every January at the Detroit Marriott
Renaissance Hotel downtown, sounded the rousing theme once
again as the premiere event for the auto industry as it
kicked off the city's annual international auto show. Excitement
and enthusiastic applause prevailed as every award that
was handed out answered the question of which vehicle had
won its category. Top honors for International Car of the
Year went to Chrysler's Charger, a welcome return of the
fabled muscle car nameplate to autodom after a long, lonely
absence. The Hummer H3 sport utility turned in the second
consecutive win for GM's specialty offroad-dominating brand
as the winner of the International Truck of the Year.
distinctive categories, winners were: Pickup Truck - Most
Athletic, Honda Ridgeline; Sports Car - Most Sex Appeal,
Pontiac Solstice; Sedan - Most Dependable, Hyundai Sonata;
Luxury Car - Most Respected, Mercedes-Benz CLS 500; Minivan
- Most Compatible, Honda Odyssey; Entry-Level - Most Spirited,
Audi A3; Crossover/Sportwagon - Most Versatile, Dodge Magnum
SRT8 and SUV - Most Resourceful, a tie between Ford Explorer
and Land Rover Range Rover Sport.
star-studded list of the industry's top movers and shakers,
and civic and political leaders brought a high-profile aura
to the celebration, augmenting the star-quality glow of
the winning vehicles. The awards ceremony itself took the
television spotlight as well, with filming of the show for
a one-hour CBS Detroit television special scheduled to run
at 5 p.m., January 14 on Channel 62.
on hand for the event included: U.S. Congressman John D.
Dingell; Carroll Shelby, President, Carroll Shelby Enterprises;
Barry Meguiar, President and CEO, Meguiar's Inc.; Chief
Ella M. Bully-Cummings, Detroit Police Department; and Alexander
Zonjic, Recording Artist and Radio Personality.
represented a prestigious "who's who"
in the automotive and business worlds. Support
for the 10th annual event came from: DaimlerChrysler
Marriott Renaissance Hotel, Shell
Motors Corp., OnStar
by GM, Hyundai
Motor America, American
of America, American
Honda Motor Company, BMW
North America, Nissan
North America and U-Haul
partners for the event, including CBS, were MSN
of renowned automotive journalists who judged
the vehicles represents a wide-spectrum of publications.
Jury members for 2006 include: Kevin Smith, Editorial
Director of Edmunds.com; Dan Wiese, automotive
writer for St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Cheryl Jensen,
automotive writer for the New York Times; Denise
McCluggage of AutoWeek; John McElroy of Autoline
Detroit; Ken Gross of Playboy; Perry Stern of
MSN Autos; and syndicated writers Steve Siler,
Ann Job and Bob Plunkett; along with RTM editor-in-chief,
2006 ICOTY votes were officially tabulated and kept a well-guarded
secret by J. D. Power and Associates to ensure the utmost
credibility and validity of winners.
the wraps off of the awards, RTM proudly invites
you to share in the glamor, glitz and excitement
of this year's winners.