By G.R. Whale
A vehicle can win an award for almost anything. It can receive accolades because it suits a particular lifestyle, excels at saving the driver (and others) from driver errors, posts a fast lap time or demonstrates durability and dependability.
The trouble with many of these awards, however, is how the criteria are set.
We've seen the same vehicle win "mid-size SUV" and "mid-size luxury SUV" categories for the same year from the same awarding outlet separated by only a 4.2 percent price difference from one trim level to another. We've seen "most appealing" and "most dependable" awards applied to 20 vehicles in the same class. And we've seen North American Car & Truck/Utility of the Year Awards jurors write in favor of diesels because they are "mechanically simpler" than gasoline engines. Maybe the hoods should be opened next time.
We like data- and numbers-based awards, especially where the scoring is presented in ways that allow consumers to draw their own conclusions or adapt findings for their own use. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, Consumer Reports ratings, PickupTrucks.com Challenges and Ward's 10 Best Engines come to mind.
Given the diversity and strategies at play, do awards affect your purchase decision? If yes, which awards do you find most useful and are there any you'd like to see created? Let us know in the comments section below.
Cars.com photo by Mark Williams