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ICOTY: May I have the envelope please?

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By Marty Bernstein

AIADA Contributing Editor

As award shows go, Oscar, Grammy, SAG, Golden Globe, are the big television programs of the first quarter every year for the general public. But for members of the automotive media, automobile manufacturers, media sales representatives, publicists and other assorted auto types, this is the time when “taa dah and a drum roll” means the “Car of the Year” award season has sprung. Many Car of the Year awards, sometimes known by the acronym COTY awards and announced by various print publications and other media outlets, occur prior to the official opening of the Detroit Auto Show, now underway.

While these various awards do generate media attention to the car and the brand, especially in dealer advertising and showroom displays, not all should be seen as the sine qua non. Saturday night in Detroit, the ICOTY or International Car of the Year event sponsored by Road & Travel magazine is one of the premiere events. Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and Founder of the magazine Courtney Caldwell to a well-dressed audience of several hundred auto execs and media types in a ball room in the Marriott Hotel in Detroit...some wearing tuxedos…honored a terrific cast of vehicles from across the product spectrum.

"The ICOTY awards focus on the emotional connection between car and consumer; how vehicles reflect our lifestyles and self image, an attitude the average consumer can identify and respond to,“ Caldwell said.

Now in its eleventh year, the ICOTY awards and the Saturday night event has matured and grown in stature and prestige. I prefer this event’s recognition because it covers more segments – 10 – of the business and is judged by a jury of 12 nationally-renowned automotive journalists, most of whom I know and respect highly. Their ballots are tabulated by J.D. Power and Associates, and if you can’t trust JDP, who can you trust?

Toyota was the big winner of the night walking away with 3 of the awards, followed by second place in Mazda.

•International Car of the Year:

Lexus LS 460

•Sports Car of the Year, "Most Sex Appeal"

Jaguar XK

•Sedan of the Year, "Most Dependable"

Toyota Camry

•Luxury Car of the Year, "Most Respected"

Lexus LS 460

•Minivan of the Year, "Most Compatible"

Hyundai Entourage

•Entry Level Car of the Year, "Most Spirited"

Mazda Speed 3

•Crossover of the Year "Most Versatile"

Mazda CX-7

Detroit-based brands won two awards. The Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab took home the prize for International Truck of the year, and the SUV of the year award went to the GMS Yukon.