Sneak Peek at the International Car of the Year Nominees!


The International Car of the Year Awards aren’t like other car awards. Rather than judging a car on its performance, comfort, quality and value, the ICOTY awards judge on emotion. They represent how cars make us feel, rather than how fast they get to 60 mph.

The award will be presented at the North American International Auto Show in January.

With that background in mind, here are the nominees along with my prediction of which car will win!

Ford Flex

The Flex has two main innovations that will give it a shot at winning, the first being a built-in refrigerator that is surely a hit with parents on road trips. The second is Ford’s EasyFuel capless refueling system, which reduces the risk of gas theft and decreases the release of fuel vapors. Too bad it won’t win, though; the Flex’s exterior design is apt to produce emotions, just not the kind that make us feel good.



Nissan GT-R

gt-rThe $80K Nissan, with a twin-turbocharged V6 that corrals 473 horses and the ability to scream to 60 mph in three and a half seconds, could blow the doors off some Porsches. It has everything going for it, including a dashboard monitor to display steering angle and G-forces. This car will make your heart pound and your palms sweat… but it’s not something the average car consumer can identify with. That’s why it won’t win.  

Dodge Challenger

challengerThis reincarnated icon of the past is being brought back to life and will be accessible to nearly anyone with the desire to drive a symbol of American muscle. Yes, that muscle has weakened in past years, but that’s not the point. The Challenger invokes pure emotion in the millions of Americans who remember Dodge’s heyday. This isn’t just a car; it’s a car that builds hope in America’s automakers. And that’s the point of the ICOTY awards and why my money is on the Challenger to win.

Which car would you vote for to win the International Car of the Year Award: the Flex, GT-R or Challenger?  



  1. I volunteer in a car donation program. We distribute 80% of the cars we receive to low income families, so the donor can take the private FMV. However, we are sometimes given a car the donor says is in good shape, but our volunteer mechanics discover that the frame is rusted out so the car is not safe and not worth repairing, or there are multiple major mechanical problems the donor wasn’t aware of (or chose to ignore). Those we junk. That is fairly rare, because usually the donor knows the car and is honest about its condition. We also get cars the donor knows we are junking (selling for parts).

  2. I think the Corvette ZR1 would probably be on that list if it didn’t look like a…..Corvette. It’s an amazing car but I wish they had given it some different sheet metal to differentiate it from every other ‘vette.

  3. Hollerin and jgoods both make good points. Simply put: safety features don’t generate emotion like nostalgia does. That’s not likely to ever change; though there is hope that car buyers will learn to listen to their logical side rather than rely simply on emotion when buying a new car. Which, admittedly, is an inherently emotional experience.

  4. Hollerin makes a great point, but as tgriffith says, it’s all about emotion—really it’s about “emotional marketing.” Maybe the biggest difficulty in changing or restructuring the US auto industry is changing expectations and perspectives of what people want in a car. That means educating them, which takes time, money and effort. Cars sell on what buyers value, not on what is in their best interest. The auto press could (maybe someday?) learn to lead the car-buying public rather than just pander to its values.

  5. I’ll confess to really liking the looks of the Challenger, but it and the fawning coverage it’s received in the auto press strike me as pretty clear indications of some of what’s wrong with the Big Three and maybe the American auto press. The new Challenger weighs two tons, has a cramped back seat despite being a relatively large car, and gets no more than 18/25 mpg. The R/T and SRT8, which reviewers prefer, get lower mileage, with the SRT8 requiring a gas-guzzler tax. Yet the car got lots of way-positive coverage while gas was priced ~$4/gallon. Huh? And some of the safety features now standard in many imports – ABS, traction control, and stability control – are standard only on the higher-level trims, but extra-cost options for the base SE. Dodge and much of the U.S. auto press clearly seem to believe that power, size, and retro-styled good looks are the truly important things, despite that fact that power always comes at the expense of efficiency, and that features that will save lives should be available as optional extras, rather than standard equipment.

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