Sorry, Ford fans, but Chevy is back in a big way. The General Motors brand brought home 2016 honors for Motor Trend Car and Truck of the Year.
The gear-head magazine picked the 2016 Camaro as Car of the Year while the Chevy Colorado bested all comers for Truck of the Year. Let's take a look at why judges chose each one.
Camaro wins for its 50th anniversary
The sixth-generation Camaro was an underdog coming into the competition. The other 14 finalists included high-performance machines from Germany and Japan like the BMW 7 Series, Audi TT, Mercedes-Benz GT S, Mazda MX-5 Miata and Toyota Mirai. But judges were blown away by the new Camaro's lighter design and handling. It's especially sweet for Chevy to notch this victory as the 2016 model represents the 50th anniversary of this iconic American muscle car.
"Judges were wowed by the Camaro's lighter design and handling."
The Camaro has good bones in the eyes of the Motor Trend experts as it is built on the same frame as the Cadillac CTS, which they picked as their 2014 Car of the Year. "Long story short, we have a history of loving the wondrous-to-drive, lightweight, aluminum- and high-strength-steel intensive Alpha platform," the editors of Motor Trend wrote in their announcement of why they picked the Camaro. "But man, have we been waiting for the General to offer a small-block with a manual transmission."
Motor Trend focuses on six "key criteria" for Car of the Year:
- Advancement in design.
- Engineering excellence.
- Performance of intended function.
Judges said the 2016 Camaro knocked most of these out of the park except for efficiency. But with gas prices back under $2 in many parts of the country, the Camaro SS's 14 miles per gallon in the city, 26 on the highway didn't remove it from contention. That's right in line with competitors like the Mustang GT.
Motor Trend writes that the new Camaro "utterly nails" the value category by offering 455 horse power in a $37,000 vehicle.
The "engineering excellence" exhibited by Chevy may have the engineers at Porsche's design headquarters in Austria looking over their shoulders. The 2016 Camaro completed a figure-eight course in just .2 seconds less than a 911 Carrera 4S.
Two years in a row for Chevy Colorado
On the truck side, the complete overhaul of the formerly-out-of-production Colorado wowed Motor Trend testers for the second year running. It beat out its sister vehicle, the GMC Canyon, brand-mates Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 as well as imports like the Nissan Titan XD and Toyota Tacoma.
The Colorado is a mid-size truck that Motor Trend judges chose for its well-roundedness.
"Jack-of-all-trades. Swiss Army knife. There are many descriptors for the immensely versatile Colorado," the judges wrote. "With the new Duramax, Chevy's midsize workhorse delivers best-in-class fuel economy (we expect the EPA to certify it at 31 mpg highway), superb drivability, and up to 7,700 pounds of towing and 1,547 pounds of payload capacity."
Judges used the same "key criteria" as for cars. While the Colorado performed well across the board. It handled a 500-pound payload, editors said, as if the load were just 50 pounds. They also praised its handling as being like that of the "next generation of small trucks" rather than the "truckish" feel of the Tacoma. While this is the second year of the Colorado's redesign, judges said it still represented the "design benchmark" for trucks.
As USA Today pointed out, Chevy took a risk by going against the "big truck" trend established by Ford's F-Series and Fiat Chrysler's Ram.
Whether you buy one of these award-winning 2016 Chevrolets or drive something less worthy of praise in the eyes of Motor Trend's experts, don't neglect to get a regular tune up at your local auto repair shop.