Car of the Year: Chevrolet Camaro is a double-winner
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
This past year, nostalgic Pony cars rekindled past glories with power, style and grace, a supercar was introduced and was on a par with its more-expensive European counterparts, luxury cars looked and acted the part and some were even outfitted with hybrid or diesel engines, sports cars were as powerful and sporty as ever, new players showed luxury and class and tried-and-true top-sellers continued to strive for perfection.
Architecturally, aesthetically, cosmetically, technically and mechanically, 2009 was as innovative and impressive as any year of the past. From a performance, style and quality perspective, 2009 will stand as a tribute to new car building, and as car shows years from now, these models will be revered and respected by fans and clubs who attend.
Beginning in 2005, All About Cars has completed its calendar-year coverage with a Top-10 report on the Car of the Year. Our fifth annual list is filled with a classy and classic blend of winners. The United States was represented with the Top-3 vehicles; Germany also had 3 cars and Korea was home to 2, while Japan and the United Kingdom saw a car apiece making this year’s list.
While cost is no object for this grouping devoted to the best automobiles, crossovers, sports-utes and trucks I tested regardless of price, it is interesting to note that there were four cars in the $30,000 range, while three cars were priced in excess of $100,000.
The rating system is subjective based on eight categories, with the cars given ratings of 10 for perfection down to 1 for worst possible application. The eight categories in which I judged the vehicles were: Interior; Safety; Power; Handling/Ride; Economy/Price; Looks; Niche-fitting and a Miscellaneous grouping in which I took into consideration the “feel-good” factor and other intangibles. Making the list are vehicles I tested in calendar 2009, so if I drove it in 2008, or have it scheduled for 2010, it didn’t warrant consideration, so several 2010s are in the list along with some 2009s.
I gave only seven perfect 10s all year, and no vehicle received less than a charitable 4 in any category. My 10s for 2009 were: Jaguar XKR Coupe – 10 in looks; Mazda 6i Grand Touring 10 in safety; BMW M6 Convertible 10 in power (500 hp); Toyota Prius 10 in niche-fitting, Chevrolet Camaro SS 10 in power (426hp); Corvette ZR-1 only twin-10 car with perfect scores in power (638hp) and handling/ride.
Without further adieu, the Best Car of the Year should be familiar. It is a rekindling of an old spirit and I also judged it to be the Best Buy of the Year – seen in last week’s column – The 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS.
The Top 10:
No. 1 -- 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS -- $44,295. With 426 thundering horses, this is nostalgia and 21st century electronics and power rolled into an awesome package. It has looks, muscle, appeal and handling and the V-8 SS is just a bit of tire smoke better than its sister, the 304hp V-6 2LT RS. Was awarded a 10 in Power, and received 9s in Handling/Ride, Looks and Niche-fitting. A clear winner in this race, and the automotive star of the movie “Transformers,” Camaro was also our top pick as Car Buy of the Year in its V-6 incarnation for $31,485.
No. 2 -- Dodge Challenger -- $38,245. The second top muscle car to be revived this year, its 372 horses and its stylish nostalgic look and great handling achieved 9s in power and looks. Was also No.5 Car Buy of the Year.
No. 3 -- Corvette ZR1 -- $117,153. A true Supercar at one-third the cost of its European contemporaries, with 638 stampeding horses. Scored perfect 10s in Power and Handling/Ride, 9s in Looks and Niche-fitting.
No. 4 – Nissan 370Z -- $38,470. With 332hp, this is a cozy, sporty, sweet sports car. Scored 9s in Handling/Ride and Looks.
No. 5 – BMW 335d -- $55,445 – Looking luxurious, a 265hp diesel luxury car EPA rated at 23/35. Scored 9s in Handling/Ride and Looks.
No. 6 – Mercedes-Benz S550 and CL 550 -- $111,550 and $120,110. Both cars show off 382hp. The epitome of luxury with speed and handling, scored 9s in Interior, Power and looks.
No. 7 – Jaguar XKR Coupe -- $81,025 – With 300 hp, this is a luxury beauty for the ages. Scored a perfect 10 in Looks, a 9 in Interior.
No. 8 – Hyundai Genesis Coupe -- $30,375 – Rated at 306hp, a low-priced luxury coupe that achieved a solid row of 8s in nearly all categories.
No. 9 – BMW M6 Convertible -- $119,470. The consummate luxury convertible with enormous power – 500 horses – and handling. Scored a 10 in power and 9 in Looks.
No. 10 – Hyundai Genesis Sedan -- $32,250 – With 290 hp, a wonderful luxury car for the price. Rated solid 8s.
Honorable mention: Lexus RX 450h ($52,303) and Toyota Camry ($30,669).
Hats off to the cars of 2009 and early 2010 … it is a group that will stand the test of time. Next week our individual car reviews will return.
Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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