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With four out of six of this year's finalists for the North American Car and Truck of the Year finalist's from General Motors, the odds were odds were in the hometeam's favour. About as surpising as a Britney Spears meltdown, the Chevy Malibu beat out the Cadillac CTS, and the Honda Accord for the 2008 North American Car of the Year.
My choice would have been the Caddy. The Malibu's good. But it's not as big of a breakthrough as the car it's based on, and last year's winner, Saturn's Aura.
On the truck, if I was GM, I'd be peeved.
The Mazda CX-9—a car-based crossover—beat out the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. Last year, Chevy won with its Silverado, by all accounts, a real truck.
BTW, that's Car and Driver's Tony Swan, one of the judges, doing the intros.
Everyone -- I mean everyone -- though GM would take the Truck of the Year title. After all, the US automaker claimed two of the three entrants (the Buick Enclave and Chevy Tahoe Hybrid), but it was not meant to be. Mazda won this year's big prize with the CX-9.
The Mazda is my top pick for crossover -- but truck of the year?
(The Mazda received 201 votes, the Tahoe Hybrid 140 and the Enclave 109.)
The General did walk away with the 2008 North American Car of the Year award for the Malibu -- which is getting all the buzz right now. The Cadillac CTS came in second, while the redesigned Honda Accord came in third.
After what seems like several years where forced induction seemed to have fallen out of favour, it's back in a big way - but as much because of environmental pressures as it's there as a performance enhancer.
Sure, we're seeing superchargers in cars like the 550-hp Cadillac CTS-V, which are pushing down acceleration times and pushing up top speeds. But turbos and superchargers are also letting carmakers extract more performance out of much smaller engines.
Take, for example, Ford's new EcoBoost initiative, which involves direct injection and turbocharging. As fitted to the Explorer America concept, it lets a 2.0-litre four-cylinder produce as much power and torque as a 4.0-litre V6 - with fuel consumption that's 30 per cent better.
Turbos also feature on BMW's new X6; two of them, coupled to a 4.4-litre V8, produce more performance than the old 4.8 with lower consumption.
Expect even more turbos - and more innovative installations - in the years to come.
Why the runners? Starting at 9:30 a.m. this Sunday, with 28 manufacturer presentations in only two days—the Detroit auto show is a marathon baby! Although the State of Michigan is becoming a black hole for commerce, the three American automakers still call Detroit home. So even though the debuts are more international than ever before, GM, Ford and Chrysler—and every other automaker, for that matter—will have lots of execs on hand to tell us how wonderful they are all doing. Like a paleontologist poking through dinosaur dung, I'll try and give you the straight poop. Check back here next Sunday. That's when all the fun starts with winners of the North American Car and Truck of the Year declared.