GM Sweeps Car and Truck of the Year

Posted by: David Welch on January 7, 2007

aura.jpg

You could hear General Motors marketers crying “huzzah” after the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards were announced. GM swept the awards with the Chevrolet Silverado pickup and the Saturn Aura sedan winning the hardware. A panel of automotive journalists picked the Silverado over the Ford Edge and Mazda CX-7 crossover suvs. The Aura beat the Toyota Camry and the Honda Fit. Last year, Honda swept with the Ridgeline pickup and Civic compact.

My personal picks? I’d have picked the Aura, but not Silverado. It’s not that the Silverado isn’t a great pickup. It is. But we already know GM can make a great pickup. The company always has. With large pickup sales dropping 10% last year and crossovers being the hottest buy in the business, both the Edge and the CX-7 are more significant vehicles. I’d have picked the CX-7. It has a lean, almost aerodynamic design but still has a lot of passenger space. It’s a true win for Mazda. Plus, the new Toyota Tundra pickup wasn’t in the running. Since Toyota starts selling its new truck in February, it didn’t qualify for the contest. So it’s like saying the Red Sox won the American League east in a year that the Yankees weren’t playing. There is one point worth making: GM rushed Silverado to market six months sooner, thus beating Toyota to market. It was a smart move, and probably netted GM this award.

As for the Aura, it’s a very good car and deserves the victory. Toyotaphiles will say I’m crazy and will likely gripe that this was a home town choice. The awards are given at the Detroit auto show. But I have driven the Aura. It’s got a fresh and progressive design, well-appointed cabin and it’s one of the quietest cars I’ve driven for less than $30,000. PLaudits from the media haven’t translated into big sales yet. But given the fact that Saturn buyers love the dealership experience, but have been waiting for years for some cars worth driving, the Aura still has a chance to be a hit. The new Camry is a good car, too, and it comes already with a hybrid-electric option. Saturn will have a hybrid Aura soon enough. Given the beloved brand image of Toyota, Saturn’s victory is like the Tampa Bay Devil rays winning the division while the Yankees were playing.

Above the celebratory cheers at GM, I hear the sound of marching feet. It’s a torch-lit procession of angry readers who are ready to chase the panel of journalists who picked the Aura over Carmy up a windmill. In any case, you have to hand it to GM. Just having two finalists is a clear sign that Vice Chairman Bob Lutz’s cars are getting a lot better.

Reader Comments

Brendan Moore

January 7, 2007 1:54 PM

I've dogged GM pretty badly in the past, but they deserve both awards, particularly the North American Car of the Year - the Saturn Aura was a huge step forward for GM in terms of making a great car at a middle-market price.

Brendan Moore, Editor - www.autosavant.net

simmons

January 8, 2007 1:21 AM

I think you need to remember that Toyota was supposed to start selling the tundra this year and GM did move up the release date of the Silverado to beat the Tundra to market. However, it was Toyota that delayed the delivery and selling date of the Tundra pushing it into next year, not GM moving up so they could avoid direct competition. Frankly, it is a good thing for toyota because with the aura beating the camry and with the silverado beating the tundra I'm not sure toyota could have taken that kind of one-two punch.

Brockman

January 8, 2007 2:21 PM

One thing to remember, for those who say these awards are the result of home-field advantage. This award isn't given by the Detroit show, and it isn't all Detroit journalists. It is presented by auto journos from throughout the US and Canada. Honda swept last year, and the imports usually fare pretty well.

Phil Masley

January 8, 2007 6:03 PM

It is incredible to me how the media continues to deliver back-handed comments to the Big 3. As they say, opinions are like whatchamalit body parts. Everyone has one, eh! GO GM!

Comment Only

January 8, 2007 10:17 PM

An award for GM is a great boost for the company and their dealership but how will that effectively translate to buying preference over a Toyota, Honda or Nissan brand? In the company I work with, I see and hear more and more people switching to Japanese brands not for anything else but the reliability it offers. In my opinion, many cars and SUVs from the US Big-3 are really much more appealing and gorgeous than cars/trucks from their Japanese rivals where the looks are mostly plain or bland that many Asian-Americans like me are oftentimes tempted to switch from our favorite Japanese brands to the US Big-3 brands. However, the reliability issues we read/heard from many mass media forms as well as direct testimony from friends and acquaintances who owned and driven domestic cars and trucks always discourages us to even try for the GM, Ford or Dodge/Chrysler brands. I hope that this will change in the near future, with the Big-3 focusing on quality and reliability of their products that one day, I would be a proud owner of a beautiful and reliable car from one of the US Big-3.

O'Donnel

January 9, 2007 4:38 PM

Sounds more like a sympathy bid than anything else. Sure, the Aura's improvement is a huge step forward, but it's not too difficult to move when you were standing still for years. I'm sure Toyota will have the last laugh.....when the people that actually matter, the consumers, actually test drive these vehicles and purchase the Camry.

gelsomino

January 15, 2007 2:37 AM

I thinks its awesome.1 I can't wait for the day that Toyota leaves america for good. I would rather push an american car than be seen in a Jap one.

Loretta Eaton

December 15, 2008 3:49 PM

About your sweeps, Ineed a 209 Silverado 4x4 crew cab, towing 10,700 lbs.haling wood need 3/4 ton. thanks mrs l eaton.car dealer poulsbo,wash.

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Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Our man in Detroit David Welch, brings keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business.

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