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Honda Civic wins 'Car of the Year'
Motor Trend magazine honors all four new versions of the nation's best-selling compact model.
November 22, 2005: 1:58 PM EST
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The Honda Civic Si, one of the four new models of the best-selling compact honored as Motor Trend's Car of the Year.
The Honda Civic Si, one of the four new models of the best-selling compact honored as Motor Trend's Car of the Year.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The Honda Civic has captured Motor Trend magazine's "Car of the Year" award, the publication for auto enthusiasts announced Tuesday.

The magazine said that it is giving the award to the Civic for all four of its new versions.

"Honda deserves a standing ovation for not playing it safe again," said a statement from Angus MacKenzie, Motor Trend editor-in-chief. "With the sizzling Si, a sleek coupe, an elegant sedan and a Hybrid that averages 50 miles per gallon, each model shines through with what Motor Trend looks for when crowning Car of the Year."

It is the first Motor Trend "Car of the Year" award for Honda, although it had won "Import Car of the Year" from the publication four times in the past, most recently in 1994.

"For 2006, the Civic underwent the most radical transformation in its 33-year history," said a statement from John Mendel, senior vice president of American Honda. "It is a cornerstone of the Honda lineup, and we're delighted that Motor Trend has recognized ... the new Civic. Customers have validated our direction, too, as evidenced by strong sales of the new model."

The magazine tested 28 newly designed models before honoring the Civic, the largest field of candidates the magazine had considered in the award's 57-year history.

The magazine said it considers three factors in picking a winner: significance, superiority and value. Significance refers to impact on the market, while superiority looks for class-leading levels of performance, style and functionality. For value, the editors say they ask the question, "What does this vehicle deliver in relation to what the consumer has to pay to purchase and own it?"

The Civic, which had been the nation's best-selling compact car model, was the only Honda model up for consideration for the award, and Japanese auto manufacturers had a relatively thin list of candidates.

Toyota's Avalon and Lexus GS and IS models were up for consideration. The Nissan's Infiniti M35/M45 models were also considered.

In addition, Mazda, which is controlled by Ford Motor Co., had the Mazda5, a small wagon, and the MX-5 sports car up for consideration, while Mitsubishi, in which DaimlerChrysler recently sold its controlling stake, had the Eclipse GT as a contender.

Korean auto manufacturers had almost as many models in contention for the award as the Japanese, with Hyundai's Accent, Azera and Sonata up for consideration, as well as the Kia Rio.

U.S. auto makers were well represented among the models tested, with six models from General Motors: the Buick Lucerne, Cadillac DTS, Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Chevrolet Impala, Pontiac Solstice. Ford Motor Co had the closely related Ford Fusion, Lincoln Zephyr and Mercury Milan. All three of those cars are based on the same basic engineering platform.

There were also three models from German-American auto maker DaimlerChrysler, the Dodge Charger and the Mercedes-Benz CLS and R-Class.

German auto makers had four contenders: the Audi A3, BMW 3 Series, as well as Volkswagen's Jetta and Passat.

A year ago, Motor Trend gave its Car of the Year to the Chrysler 300, which has been a key to improving sales and profits at DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group unit. A year before that it gave Car of the Year to the Toyota Prius, a gas and electric hybrid car that has proved an enormous sales success for that company.

Vehicle details and photos:

2006 Honda Civic

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