• Feb 11th 2010 at 10:01AM
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2010 Toyota Prius – MotorWeek Drivers' Choice Award winner for Best of the Year

By February of each year, we are always right in the middle of awards season, and no, we're not talking about the Golden Globes, Grammys or Oscars. We are, of course, referring to Car and Truck of the Year awards, Ten Best lists and the like. A brace of trophies had already been handed out at the Detroit Auto Show and here at the Chicago Auto Show, a few more champions were crowned. As you might imagine, Toyota is usually an oft-mentioned brand during this time of year, but we figured this year might be a little different.

Coming on the heels of several high profile recall announcements by Toyota, one might expect the once-bulletproof Japanese carmaker to at least get more careful consideration when handing out the hardware. Well, even if they have gone through closer scrutiny, that hasn't stopped multiple outlets from still rewarding them for their products. Television show MotorWeek just announced their Drivers' Choice Award winners, and the Toyota Prius is their choice for best Eco-Friendly vehicle. It also claimed the title of Best of the Year overall, making it their top pick of the 2010 models.

Other category winners are listed below and there's a long press release after the jump that includes a statement by MotorWeek host and producer John Davis. While it was probably difficult to change their minds so late in the game, the statement by Davis explaining their rationale in choosing the Prius seems to have been written some time before Toyota started making so many headlines: "If you can only buy one car for your family, the 2010 Prius is the one," said Davis. "The Prius is a no-compromise vehicle that offers impressive efficiency, cutting edge technology, smart packaging and truly iconic styling."

While all of that might still apply, it's bad timing if nothing else to be handing out a top award to the Prius. In that spirit, Davis added an additional statement to clarify and defend the show's selection. In it he explained that while MotorWeek had two different Prius hybrids in their care for several months, nothing ever went wrong with them and that the show is confident that the problems will be satisfactorily addressed by Toyota.

MotorWeek was certainly not alone on that front however, as Toyota has recently been lauded by several other organizations as well. In Japan, for instance, Toyota was honored with a government energy efficiency award. Interestingly, the company chose to decline that award, though, saying that "the honor is not appropriate for a car hit by massive recalls," according to MSNBC.

Without further ado, here are the MotorWeek Drivers' Choice Award winners:
  • Best Small Car: Mazda3
  • Best Family Sedan: Ford Taurus
  • Best Luxury Sedan: Buick LaCrosse
  • Best Small Utility: Chevrolet Equinox
  • Best Large Utility: Honda Pilot
  • Best Pickup Truck: Ram 1500/2500/3500
  • Best Eco-Friendly: Toyota Prius
  • Best Sport Sedan: BMW 3-Series
  • Best Sport Coupe: Chevrolet Camaro
  • Best Performance Car: Audi S4
  • Best Convertible: Nissan 370Z Roadster
  • Best Dream Machine: Audi R8 5.2 FSI/Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

[Sources: Motorweek via EarthTimes, MSNBC]

Press Release

MotorWeek Announces 2010 Drivers' Choice Award Winners

OWINGS MILLS, Md. - (Business Wire) MotorWeek, television's longest running automotive series, announced the winners today of its 2010 Drivers' Choice Awards which recognize best in class vehicles in a variety of lifestyle categories. "Emerging from what was a difficult year, this year's winners represent new benchmarks being set by the auto industry for engineering, design and fuel efficiency," said MotorWeek host and executive producer John Davis.

The Toyota Prius took top honors as Best of the Year for making improvements on virtually every front including, fuel efficiency, power and versatility. It was also named Best Eco-Friendly.

"The Prius winning the prestigious MotorWeek Drivers' Choice Best of the Year and Best Eco-Friendly awards is truly an honor that reflects how far hybrid technology in the U.S. has come in one short decade," said Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager. "Since it was introduced in 2000, the Prius has been an icon for positive change. Now, with over 800,000 currently on American roads, Prius has helped change the way people think about transportation, the roles cars play in the environment, and what people could expect from their cars in the future."

"If you can only buy one car for your family, the 2010 Prius is the one," said Davis. "The Prius is a no-compromise vehicle that offers impressive efficiency, cutting edge technology, smart packaging and truly iconic styling." (Statement from John Davis regarding recall quoted below* or can be downloaded by clicking here)

The entire list of winners will be featured on MotorWeek beginning February 13th on PBS (check local listings). MotorWeek's Drivers' Choice Awards have been presented annually since 1983, and are among the auto industry's most prestigious honors.

Despite a tough year for domestic automakers, Detroit produced some standouts with ambitious remakes of existing models. Calling it a "stellar effort that speaks volumes about where Ford is headed," the Taurus took top honors as MotorWeek's Best Family Sedan.

General Motors was recognized by MotorWeek for a trio of outstanding vehicles. With best in class fuel economy, including hybrids, the Chevrolet Equinox captured the title as Best Small Utility, while the Buick LaCrosse took Best Luxury Sedan for delivering stunning good looks and quality inside and out. "These two vehicles have moved the benchmark for affordable vehicles in their class quite a few notches higher," said Davis. The iconic Chevrolet Camaro took home MotorWeek's Best Sport Coupe award. Best Small Car went to the Mazda3 for having the "soul of a sports car," while the new Nissan 370Z Roadster took the title as MotorWeek's Best Convertible.

German automakers dominated the high performance segments. Audi received two nods from MotorWeek; the S4 was named Best Performance Car, and the R8 5.2 FSI Best Dream Machine. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG shared Best Dream Machine honors, while the BMW 3-Series won Best Sport Sedan.

Two 2009 winners held on to their titles. For the second year in a row, the Ram 1500/2500/3500 drove away with Best Pickup and the Honda Pilot won for Best Large Utility.

The editorial staff of MotorWeek test drives more than 150 cars, trucks and utilities each year. Drivers' Choice Award winners are chosen following a comprehensive evaluation of factors that matter most to consumers - performance, technology, practicality and value.

The winners are: Best Small Car: Mazda3; Best Family Sedan: Ford Taurus; Best Luxury Sedan: Buick LaCrosse; Best Small Utility: Chevrolet Equinox; Best Large Utility: Honda Pilot; Best Pickup Truck: Ram 1500/2500/3500; Best Eco-Friendly: Toyota Prius; Best Sport Sedan: BMW 3-Series; Best Sport Coupe: Chevrolet Camaro; Best Performance Car: Audi S4; Best Convertible: Nissan 370Z Roadster; Best Dream Machine: Audi R8 5.2 FSI/Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.

MotorWeek is one of the nation's leading sources for automotive industry news, new car information and driving entertainment. The award-winning series, seen nationwide on PBS, SPEED and V-me, is produced by Maryland Public Television. For more information on MotorWeek and the Drivers' Choice Awards, visit motorweek.org.

*MotorWeek's statement regarding issue with
regenerative brakes on the 2010 Prius

"MotorWeek has been test driving vehicles for nearly 30 years, providing unbiased, independent reviews of thousands of cars and trucks. Consumers rely on us to make smart buying decisions, a responsibility we take very seriously. That's why I want to address the issue of why MotorWeek chose the 2010 Prius as its 2010 Drivers' Choice "Best of the Year."

We test drove two 2010 models of the Toyota Prius for several months and never experienced any mechanical problems. The cars were put through MotorWeek's standard performance tests, including tackling city streets, jammed highways, as well as challenging hills and mountainous terrain. MotorWeek's "Best of the Year" selection was made well before any potential safety issues were raised. We still think it is an exemplary vehicle that is worthy of the Drivers' Choice Award and the dozens of other awards it has received. MotorWeek is confident any potential issues will be fully addressed by Toyota."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Also Yongpeng, if you really like mpg's then go get a small desiel VW or something. The ones in europe are reporting 70 to 80 mpg's. Problem is you end up spending thousands extra on a dumb hybrid and with those extra thousands you could have bought gas for years or a car you can actually enjoy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Those 70 to 80mpgs are different gallons and different testing systems. Only the slowest Diesels you've heard about (the ones with sub 1.6L engines) get better mpg than a Prius gets. And the Prius is larger and accelerates and handles better than the vehicles that top it on mpg."

        • 5 Years Ago
        Those 70 to 80mpgs are different gallons and different testing systems. Only the slowest Diesels you've heard about (the ones with sub 1.6L engines) get better mpg than a Prius gets. And the Prius is larger and accelerates and handles better than the vehicles that top it on mpg.

        The easy way to compare is to use the Prius EU mpg rating. It is rated at 72.43 miles per gallon (UK gallon) on the EU combined cycle and 89g of CO per km.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's not only about fuel efficiency, but also about emission standards as well. Further, it is a fact that the EPA in the US is corrupt and lowers the mpg of hybrids since they took bribes.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm enjoying Toyota getting what's coming to them, but....

      The Prius has a lot going for it. Easily the most impressive vehicle made by Toyota. The Prius brake recall isn't that bad. This award is OK.

      I'd still rather have Fusion, though.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Interestingly, the company chose to decline that award, though, saying that "the honor is not appropriate for a car hit by massive recalls," according to MSNBC"

        Oh hush...enough of the humility crap, you "deserve" it Toyota...(to lose face).

        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm not enjoying them getting nailed, mostly because a lot of the cars in question are built by American workers (Camry). But Toyota clearly had it coming so...

        Prius is still a very, very good car. The haters will jump all over the software problem, despite the countless domestic recalls. It's a pretty simple fix on an otherwise brilliant machine. I'd agree with this award's conclusions, though the 370Z Roadster doesn't belong on the list. At 3600 pounds, it's the size of an SUV and turns like a beast. Fun, but not a great car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Did you enjoy watching GM get what was coming to it? And then watching the government steal from the taxpayers to bail them out? And Chrysler? Did you enjoy that too?

        And at least Toyota's management is honorable enough to decline an award in the face of their recall. GM and Chrysler flew in to DC in private jets to receive their reward-for-failure bailout.

        You'd rather have a Mexican made car. Brilliant sentiment. Not.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I agree inline 6
      • 5 Years Ago
      The 2010 Prius is without the shadow of a doubt a very advanced and stylish vehicle. Anyone with half a brain cell knows this government-orchestrated attack on Toyota with the media and recalls is an attempt to get people to buy GM and Chrysler cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Anyone with half a brain cell knows this government-orchestrated attack on Toyota with the media and recalls is an attempt to get people to buy GM and Chrysler cars."

        Apparently you have no brain cell. Proof or stfu with your conspiracy theories.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Toyota has been Teflon coated long enough. How you can defend a company who's been hiding defects for so long is beyond me. GM and Ford have been embarrassed many times in the past. More so than Toyota. Look at when 60 Minute re-enacted the claim of a 10 year old GM pickup truck exploding from a side impact as being unsafe. 60 Minutes actually place an explosive device under the truck to cause it to explode without telling the audience watching it on TV. I'd like to see Toyota's runaway car re-enacted on TV, but noway that will ever happen. Look at the Pinto incidents.
        Now, don't tell me we are too hard on Toyota!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        ...oh and it stop! LOL
        • 5 Years Ago
        Anyone with half a brain-cell does not buy into unfounded conspiracy theories involving a world wide government and media collusion plot to discredit an automaker.


        That being said the Prius is a very good choice for a family car, not the only choice, but a very good one.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There's an ECU issue and it is thus:

        The ECU is not programmed to cancel the gas when you press the brake.
        The ECU is programmed to prevent you from turning off the car when it is in motion in a push-button car. The programming should be adjusted to either remind you to hold it down if you press the button while moving or to turn off with two presses in a short period.

        Toyota's competitors have these things and they would have prevented the fatal crashes that happened.

        So yeah, there's an ECU issue. It's up to the courts to decide if these two omissions are negligent or just shortsighted. Either way, Toyota fell down on the job.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They showed a Prius at the end of last week's show while previewing the awards for this week. I thought, "Damn." Not a bad choice, really, but can't agree the styling is a positive factor. Last year they picked the Honda Fit. Maybe the Cruze will win next year...

      So Toyota says the Prius has been "hit by massive recalls" - there have been others?

      Anyway, glad to see the 3 GM awards!
      • 5 Years Ago
      "the company chose to decline that award, though, saying that 'the honor is not appropriate for a car hit by massive recalls,' according to MSNBC."

      Wow, very noble. in Toyota's defense, I hope that gets just as much press as their recalls.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's not noble. It is a good marketing move made with the intent of getting good press. I don't fault them for doing it, but don't mistake it as altruism.

        Actually, they had little choice, accepting it would elicit similar jokes as President Obama accepting the Peace Prize whist commanding over two wars. Why not get some good press over declining a relatively stupid award (Toyota not President Obama) rather than open the company up for more ridicule.

        Good move my marketing but it is clearly not noble.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I just lost all respect for MotorWeek... the Prius is NOT the best all around car, it is a rather poor econobox driver and not worthy of... "if you had to buy one car"... this is NOT it! I and many others believe the Ford Fusion Hybrid is a much better "all around car", especially a drivers car... not the Prius!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree. While the Prius may be a fine car for economy, how can you POSSIBLY say it's the best driver's car?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I never considered MotorWeek's credibility. I can't get beyond Jon Davis' annoying voice. He sounds like a ring master, not a tv show host. Does he talk like that at home too?
        • 5 Years Ago
        MotorWeek has always been a kiss-ass show. Full of fluff.

        They do provide informational content, but they pander to (all of) the automotive industry.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota is gaining my respect a lot. They want to take awards for a product with customer satisfaction than saying to crowd back " our stuff is great,buy it , see we got this award and the car will stop in 2500 meters after you apply full break "

      I think others has to learn from toyota.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Don't lie to us. Toyota never "lost" your respect.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What a far cry from Top Gear,MotorWeek is.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "The Prius is a no-compromise vehicle that offers impressive efficiency, cutting edge technology, smart packaging and truly iconic styling."

      I don't necessarily disagree with it getting the eco award, but how can they say it is no compromise with a straight face? Aren't hybrids by definition a compromise? You give up power and performance, they cost more then similar sized vehicles and you lose cargo room. They should have just left it as best eco car, but not driver's choice. That is too far and with the above statement, they lose credibility IMO.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What I'm saying is no other car under $30k offers the amount of technology available for purchase (mostly as options) in the Prius. This includes Lane Keep Assist, Parking Assist, the trick solar roof, and the touch-sensitive steering wheel controls. All unique.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Do people always have to take things to extremes to prove their point?

        No I wouldn't flog my family around pushing the car to its limits. But I would like to have a car that has some agility and enough power to get out of its own way and perhaps be a little entertaining once I drop the baby off at daycare. Yes all cars are about compromises, but if you are going to narrow it down to saying "if you can only buy one car for the family" I believe a Prius has too many compromises made towards economy, when I could sacrifice a little of that and get a bigger, roomier, vehicle with more power, better handling and more cargo room. Those are worth a lot more to many then the video games and gadgets in a Prius. That car would be an Altima, Malibu, Accord or Jetta.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Concentration on fuel economy alone, as an indication of a vehicles "green" credentials, is misleading. By the time you factor in the environmental costs of the battery packs, in terms of both production and disposal, the Prius is not as "green" as many vehicles with lower mpg. This is especially true for someone who spends a great deal of time on the highway; for that person a vehicle such as a Jetta TDI, which delivers similar real world mpg while not having the environmental impact of the battery system, may be a more responsible choice.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think you make a pretty convincing argument, Zamafir.

        Although I drove the top-end version of the new Prius and it drives well, it turns and stops well. It just doesn't accelerate well (and the gauge on the dash guilts you as you accelerate). but hey, it isn't like the Jetta TDI is quick either. Both cars offer about a 9.5 second 0-60.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "The Jetta just isn't big enough to be a family car"

        In what regard? It's within an inch on the prius in every dimension. I've owned the current gen jetta and drive a prius at work. With the exception of the rear cargo area, the jetta and prius are damn near identical in terms of 'big'ness inside. And cargo volume in the jetta is close to class leading in the trunk, and dwarfs the prius when talking about the wagen.

        As far as real alternatives to the prius go, the jetta TDi is pretty much the only thing that comes close in terms of mileage, price, and space, and is spades lots more fun to drive**.

        prius jetta jetta wagen
        Headroom Front (In) 38.6 38.5 38.4
        Headroom Rear (In) 37.6 37.2 38.1
        Interior Volume (cu. ft.) 93.7 91.0 91.7
        Leg Room Front (In) 42.5 41.2 41.1
        Leg Room Rear (In) 36.0 35.4 35.5
        Shoulder Room Front (In) 54.954.8 54.8
        Shoulder Room Rear (In) 53.1 53.1 53.1 *

        **my experience and that of many automotive outlets like winding road.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Prius doesn't cost more than any competiting vehicle because there is no competing vehicle. The amount of technology and the package is truly unique. The closest competitor in size may be the Matrix, but pound for pound in terms of tech (not including the HSD) it still doesn't even come close, but the price does. The only other car that comes close with hybrid is the Insight, which is smaller, weaker and performs worse than the Prius yet is close in price. The Fusion is in a different size class, costs more and doesn't have the flexibility of a hatchback and gets worse MPG.

        The Prius continues to set the hybrid/green standard. Like it or not.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @why not the LS2LS7? - for sure. If absolute city mpg and gadgets are your prerogative, the prius is great. if a reasonably entertaining drive, great interior, and comparable mileage (within reason) are your prerogative, the tdi is great.

        I'm thinking that's why VW's seeing such huge growth in sales, and seeing the TDi account for almost 50% of most model sales.

        Each is just about as wonderful as the other in different ways, which isn't something i could have said about vw ten years ago. I simply don't think as many people are as aware of it as an alternative. Hell, when I bought my MkIV i was still worried it wouldn't start in the winter, so little was the vernacular of modern diesel knowledge.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The top end Prius has lots of agility and it has a ton of cargo room. It has more cargo room than any of the cars you listed I believe (a Jetta wagon would have more though).

        No, it doesn't accelerate quickly, that's for sure. And yeah, it's a might bit cramped.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That is a very egregious statement that the Prius has no competing vehicle. I assure you before people decide to spend their money they will have more then one choice, most people that aren't fanbois who've lasered in on one car. A Prius has more competition then some other Toyota as you say. There are a number of compact cars that aren't hybrids that give good fuel economy have more power and have more room for cargo and passengers because they aren't carrying around batteries. But yeah, againts the Insight, its only direct competitor, the Prius is the best. Best family car, the only one you should buy? Absolutely not.
      • 5 Years Ago
      You can count on Toyota to come back from this with a vengeance. These people consider the massive recalls to be personal failures and a personal disgrace. Declining the award demonstrates their commitment. I would not be afraid to buy any of their vehicles. I am surprised they haven't reacted to the exiting new diesel technologies coming out of Europe. The Europeans are gaining market share at Toyota's expense because they are moving forward and I don't see much innovation coming out of Toyota. The gasoline powered hybrid Prius isn't going to be mileage king for long. That is a relatively old technology.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Honda Pilot = The Most UGLIEST award winner.
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