Chicago 2010: Bad Timing Dept. - Prius MotorWeek Drivers' Choice winner; Toyota declines JDM award

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'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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