By John Irwin, Crain News Service
DETROIT (Jan. 12, 2016) — The Honda Civic has been named the 2016 North American Car of the Year at the Detroit auto show, while the Volvo XC90 took home top truck honors.
Both models are repeat winners, with the Civic winning the best car award in 2006 and the XC90 winning Truck of the Year in 2003.
It was the third time since the awards were launched in 1993 that domestic automakers were shut out from the awards.
Honda swept the awards with the Civic and Ridgeline in 2006, while Land Rover and Hyundai won in 2012.
The winners were chosen by a jury of 53 automotive journalists from a group of three finalists in each category. A vehicle must be redesigned or substantially changed in order to be eligible for the award.
The Civic beat out the Chevrolet Malibu and Mazda MX-5 Miata. The Civic received 203 votes, edging out the Malibu's 181 points and the MX-5 Miata's 146 votes.
“It builds on everything the Civic has always been,” said American Honda Executive Vice President John Mendel. “It's known for fuel economy, for safety, for durability. And we've amped all those things up with this vehicle.”
New ad campaign
Honda kicked off its ad campaign for the new Civic last week, and Mr. Mendel said the award will help bolster the company's case to consumers.
“It's extremely important and kind of billows our sales going forward,” Mr. Mendel said. “It's a great luxury to have.”
The XC90, with 310 votes, beat out the Honda Pilot's 111 votes and the Nissan Titan XD's 109 votes.
“It makes us extremely proud,” said Lex Kerssemakers, Volvo Car USA CEO. “The XC90 reflects everything what is about to come in the next four years for Volvo Car Corp.”
The XC90 was the first vehicle complete vehicle to emerge under the ownership of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. The company has invested $11 billion to produce a wide range of new products and platforms.
Mr. Kerssemakers said the award vindicates the company's strategy.
“Once you start the development of a car, you realize that the owner has a very long-term vision to make Volvo successful. We realized that we will get the time to develop the cars that we would like to develop, which people expect from Volvo.”
Vehicles are judged on several categories including innovation, design, safety, handling, comfort and driver satisfaction.
The independent jury includes Automotive News engineering and technology reporter Richard Truett.
Judges are given 10 points in each category, which they can disperse how they see fit among the three finalists.
The winners are selected in a third elimination stage.
The three finalists in each category are chosen from a list of 10 cars and 12 pickups in December. Those models on the shortlists were narrowed down from a larger list in the fall.
The BMW 7 series, Cadillac CT6, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Volt, Kia Optima, Nissan Maxima and Toyota Prius were the other cars on the shortlist.
The remaining trucks, crossovers and SUVs on the shortlist were the Ford Edge, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Tuscon, Jeep Renegade, Kia Sorento, Lexus RX, Mazda CX-3, Tesla Model X and the Toyota Tacoma.
Honda's win gives Japanese automakers four wins at the awards since their debut in 1993. European automakers, including Volvo, have won six times.
Domestic automakers have won the award 12 times, while Hyundai, a Korean automaker, has won twice.
The Volkswagen Golf and the Ford F-150 won the 2015 North American Car and Truck of the Year awards.
This story appeared originally on autonews.com, the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.