How can we expand our Car of the Year coverage beyond the 20 magazine pages in the January 2003 issue? Not easily. In print, we've detailed this year's candidates, spotlighted the contenders' strengths and weaknesses, run each car through our full performance test regimen , share our insights from days of back-to-back comparison drives, and even sprinkled in a few candid photos showing the team in action.

This exhaustive coverage left few details remaining, but we dug up a handful of photos that help capture the magic of our comparison drives - the staff's favorite part of the evaluation process. The photos below show different slices of the COY experience, including the group's diversity, the range of "fun" cars, and the number of photo-friendly sporty red models. In combing through our digital photos, it was interesting to see the editors' reactions after driving certain models. Cars like the Mini Cooper and Nissan 350Z seem to feature cheek-straining smiles as standard equipment.

Be sure to pick up the January 2003 issue of Motor Trend for the full test and winner stories.

Click images to enlarge.