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Car and Driver Inaugurates '5Best Trucks' Program

             Magazine Finally Bends to Cry From Truck Enthusiasts

    ANN ARBOR, Mich., June 4 Bowing to pressure from what some
readers have claimed was an underserved segment of vehicle enthusiasts, Car
and Driver magazine today announced winners of its first 5Best Trucks awards.
The inaugural program parallels Car and Driver's widely followed annual 10Best
Cars program.

    Editor-in-Chief Csaba Csere (pronounced Chubba Chedda) said while the
magazine has included trucks for consideration in its 10Best competition, few
trucks -- only six minivans and one SUV -- have made the final cut in the 19-
year history of the awards.

    "We've been including trucks (in our 10Best judging) from the beginning,
but when it comes to performance, these vehicles have difficulty passing
muster with our editors.  However, since 65 percent of our readers now own
trucks, we decided it's time to recognize what we think are the best trucks on
the market," Csere said.

    Thirty-five trucks were nominated in five categories: Luxury SUV, Small
SUV, Van, Large SUV and Pickup.

    The divisions and winners, as announced in the July issue, on sale today,

    *  Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle -- Acura MDX
    *  Small Sport Utility Vehicle -- Ford Escape
    *  Large Sport Utility Vehicle -- Toyota Highlander
    *  Pickup -- Chevrolet Silverado
    *  Van -- Honda Odyssey

    While the annual car competition names 10 top vehicles, only five trucks
were selected for the truck awards, based on the magazine's preference for
cars and the availability of fewer models of trucks on the market.  According
to the 2001 edition of "Car and Driver Buyers Guide," there are 198 car models
and 97 SUVs, vans and pickups.

    Among trucks, there were 19 each of vans and pickups and 58 SUVs.  The
SUVs were divided into three categories.  Models with a base price of more
than $34,000 were classified as luxury models.  Vehicles with a length of 178
inches or less were placed in the small category.  All remaining models were
judged as large SUVs.

    The editors met and selected approximately five vehicles for each category
for the final judging.  Of the 35 finalists, 30 were available for evaluation.
The editors spent three days driving and examining the vehicles at an unnamed
testing facility near Ann Arbor.  Each vehicle was rated on a scale of 1-100,
and the top vehicle in each category was named to the 5Best list.