The announcement, made via an extensive feature on MotorTrend.com
and a special presentation on the Motor Trend YouTube Channel
, comes after a diverse group of 25 contenders (45 with variants) were put through Motor Trend's extensive battery of testing designed to examine virtually every aspect of each vehicle. When all was said and done, the panel of 11 judges voted unanimously for the Tesla Model S.
To determine which car deserved top honors, the Motor Trend staff conducted Phase I of its testing at Hyundai/Kia's state-of-the-art facility near Mojave, Calif. During the intense workout, the judges were able to test each vehicle in a closed course environment, which allowed for consistency and repeatability. Judges narrowed the field to a short list of finalists for Car of the Year with the following tests:
1. Standard testing:
0-60 mph and 1/4-mile acceleration, 60-0 mph braking and Motor Trend's signature figure-eight handling test.
2. High-Speed Loop: three lanes, 6.4 miles with a smooth surface and constant-radius turns to evaluate engine noise and transmission shift quality during significant acceleration.
3. Freeway Surfaces: one lane, 1.25 miles sectioned into replicas of L.A.'s most notorious freeways, allowing observation of ride quality, noise, and suspension tuning.
4. Winding Track:
two lanes, 3.1 miles consisting of a combination of fast-sweeping corners, decreasing high-radius hairpins, a tight right-left-right switchback and three manmade hills to test power, braking, and chassis balance.
Phase I was intended to eliminate vehicles that did not measure up to the award's six criteria: Advancement in Design, Engineering Excellence, Efficiency, Safety, Value, and Performance of Intended Function. The Car of the Year is not chosen from a direct comparison against the other contenders, but rather as a result of how it measures up to these key criteria.
Judges narrowed the field to 11 cars that would live to fight on in Phase II, a 28.5-mile mix of highways, city streets and tight canyon roads through scenic Tehachapi, Calif. Judges focused on how the 11 finalists performed in real-world conditions to evaluate factors including road and wind noise, steering response, and ride quality, as well as features in the car such as audio, climate, and infotainment systems (navigation, hands-free voice controls and smart phone pairing).
After this stage, the judges revisit the six criteria and deliberate in order to select the Car of the Year.
Judges were impressed by the luxurious and sporty Model S on all levels, particularly its unparalleled engineering excellence. With its exceptionally aerodynamic, aluminum-intensive body structure and stunning performance of its innovative electric powertrain, the Model S won the hearts and minds of even the most cynical judges on our panel. The car is just as exceptional from a comfort and style standpoint, with its roomy cabin, impressive storage space and giant touch-screen "nerve center." The Model S is supremely efficient; in separate tests Motor Trend confirmed its EPA-certified 265-mile range, and achieved as high as 118 mpg-e. Just as compelling are its numbers as a performance sedan (0-60 in 4.0 seconds, a quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph, and top speed of 133 mph). It's also at the top of its class in safety and is a solid value compared to the competition in both the luxury sedan and electric-vehicle segment. In performance of intended function, the car passes with flying colors: it's well-equipped, high-tech, fast and fun to drive.
"We had an extremely competitive field for Motor Trend's Car of the Year," said Edward Loh, Editor-in-Chief of Motor Trend. "However, the Tesla Model S floored our panel of judges. The goal of the award is to name the car that best meets our six criteria, and the Tesla Model S accomplished that best. It is a testament not only to the luxury sedan and electric car segment, but to American engineering overall. To be the first car in the 64-year history of the award to be powered by something other than gasoline must mean it is very special. It is, and thus we're excited to name the Tesla Model S our 2013 Car of the Year."
BMW 3 Series (Finalist)
Cadillac ATS (Finalist)
Toyota Avalon (Finalist)
Ford Fusion (Finalist)
Honda Accord (Finalist)
Premium Lux Cars:
Lexus GS (Finalist)
Ford C-Max Hybrid (Finalist)
Toyota Prius C
Porsche 911 (Finalist)
Porsche Boxster (Finalist)
Subaru BRZ (Finalist)
Source: Source Interlink Media