Chicago News picked six best vehicles in six different categories and will be presenting awards to the winning manufacturers at the opening press day of the Chicago Auto Show at the McCormick Place at 10 am on February 8 at the Live Radio booth (located in the North Hall in front of Chevrolet). Trophies will be awarded for Sedan, Family Vehicle, Truck, SUV/Crossover, Performance/Sports Car and Car of the Year.
Sedan of the Year – Alfa Romeo Giulia
“It’s a triumphant return to the US market,” said Jason Saini, pro racecar driver, Chicago News automotive writer and host. “Alfa Romeo has been here for a few years now, importing exclusively sports cars, but this is the first everyday sedan they are offering. The entry level 2.0-Liter Turbo is an excellent power plant, churning out 280hp and returning excellent fuel mileage. Italian design drips from every panel and the interior is like a fine suit. But it’s the 505-horsepower Quadrifoglio model that stole our heart. Taking the most fun-to-drive sedan crown away from BMW, Audi and Mercedes is no small feat, especially with your first offering.”
Family Vehicle of the Year – Kia Niro
The nomination is all about practicality, and this year’s winner combines that with value and efficiency. The Kia Niro is a hard-to-categorize small family vehicle that is perfect for starting families that want to plug in to help limit fossil-fuel usage. A fully equipped plug-in hybrid for less than the base model of most others, it’s truly one of the best bargains out there.
SUV/Crossover of the Year – Volvo XC60 T8
Volvo always evoked memories of reliability, safety and frugality – but certainly not luxury, style and performance. In a remarkably short period of time, Volvo has changed the game and shed its former drab image. What’s more impressive is that they have done it without compromising those core values that made the company. With a commitment to reduce fatalities to zero by 2020, and to have all electrified vehicles in the not-too-distant future, you can tell they are serious about development. Our award for the SUV/Crossover of the Year goes to the sophisticated XC60, the muscular T8 hybrid. As the rest of the new Volvo line-up, it boasts a lot of safety features, including radar cruise control and autopilot semi-autonomous capabilities. It’s a hint of what driving will be like in the future, and a key component to Volvo’s safety commitment.
Truck of the Year – Ford F-150 Raptor
Swinging back toward the fun quotient, the new Ford F-150 Raptor is taking the crown. A powerful EcoBoost engine and new 10-speed automatic transmission are combined with incredible suspension to dominate the off-road trails. The all-aluminum wonder also gives you incredible luxury on the inside. “We think there is no better truck that can handle anything and everything in one package,” said Dennis Bindarau, automotive editor at Chicago News.
Performance/Sports Car of the Year – Mazda MX-5 Miata
This exciting award goes to the newest version of a classic, the Mazda Miata. Adding a power-retractable fastback model is just another reason to love this pure, lightweight and nimble roadster.
Car of the Year – Aston Martin DB11
This one was a pretty easy choice. Aston Martin has created an instant classic, reinventing its brand with all the emotion of its older models combined with reliability and technology from a partnership with AMG. Fears that this would dilute the brand’s lineage were unfounded, as even the V8-powered DB11 that we’re awarding has its own unique sound and fury.
Technology is advancing at such a rate that each year brings new innovations and leaps of refinement. Each year there’s more to like and our crop of these winners is a perfect example of that. New technology combined with classic brands brings us the best of both worlds. Here’s to our winners!
The Chicago Auto Show will be open to the public from February 10 through February 19. For more information about Chicago News automotive coverage, visit http://www.chicagonewstoday.com/cars and join us at the Awards Presentation at the McCormick Place on February 8th.