In addition to being the best time to buy a toaster for $5 at a door buster sale and the worst time to ship a package, this is the time of year when the automotive press begins rendering its verdicts on which car models represent the best and brightest offerings in the auto industry.
This year the big winner appears to be the Chevy Volt, mostly because it's the first mass-market plug-in hybrid in automotive history. What do you think? Does the Chevy Volt deserve all the love it's getting, or is it just the beneficiary of years of hype? Any surprises among the other awards?
Motor Trend Car of the Year: Chevy Volt
Money quote: "In the 61-year history of the Car of the Year award, there have been few contenders as hyped -- or as controversial -- as the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt started life an Old GM project, then arrived fully formed as a symbol of New GM, carrying all the emotional and political baggage of that profound and painful transition. As a result, a lot of the sound and fury that has surrounded the Volt's launch has tended to obscure a simple truth: This automobile is a game-changer."
Automobile Magazine Automobile of the Year: Chevy Volt
Money quote: "This is the most sophisticated, most important vehicle on the road today. The Volt model could very well be the standard of the future: a smartly sized battery backed by a frugal range extender, whether that's a diesel, a turbine, or a gas engine. In fact, several automakers already have plans to develop similar plug-ins with usable electric driving range and supplemental fossil-fuel power. For being an automotive pioneer, the Chevrolet Volt is the 2011 Automobile of the Year."
NADAguides Car of the Year: Buick Regal
Money quote: "The Buick Regal has had a revolutionizing effect on Buick," said Troy Snyder, director of product development for NADAguides. "The brand is definitely on the right road and it's clear that the Regal is just the beginning of Buick great vehicles to come."
Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value, brand: Subaru
Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value, luxury brand: BMW
Individual models that had the best projected resale value in their category: Honda Fit, MINI Cooper, Honda Accord, Ford Taurus, Lexus IS, Audi A5, Subaru Imprexa WRX, Ford Mustang GT, Volkswagen Golf TDI, Honda CR-V, Toyota FJ Cruiser, GMC Acadia, BMW X5, Toyota Tacoma, Ford F-Series Super Duty, Toyota Sienna, Subaru Outback.
Money quote: "Consumers should take a good look at the projected resale value of a car when choosing their next new-vehicle purchase, and they would be wise to carefully consider the 2011 Best Resale Value Award winning vehicles and brands on this year's list," said James Bell, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.