Last week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, MotorTrend announced the Chevrolet Camaro as the winner of its 2016 “Golden Calipers” awards. This isn’t just any old auto award: MotorTrend has been evolving the competition for over 60 years (this list of winners going back to 1949 provides an illustrative example), and it’s still adding on to the process. This year featured the addition of a new category, “Person of the Year,” to bring the judging process beyond what shows up on dealer’s lots.
The new Camaro doesn’t look like a radical change, but beneath its familiar sheetmetal, it’s a whole new beast (you can read our full review of the car here). A new platform, revised engines (and the addition of a potent turbocharged four-cylinder), and a weightloss plan later, the Camaro was able to shirk some serious competition for MotorTrend’s sought-after high honors.
Read on to see what the Camaro was able to beat out.
1. 2016 Audi TT
In selecting the Audi TT, MotorTrend cited its technology and luxury features (though not specifically). So what’s so great about the 2016 TT? For one thing, there’s a cutting edge “virtual dashboard” packed with all kinds of visual navigation, voice-operated features, and more, all in a display mounted behind the steering wheel (this TechCrunch article provides more details.) The high-design car also features a potent 220 horsepower TSI turbo-four, capable of boosting the coupe to 60 miles per hour in 5.3 seconds.
2. BMW 7 Series
With the BMW 7 Series, MotorTrend cited its “sophisticated design” and “impressive luxury appointments.” One such feature getting a lot of attention is the car’s new remote key fob that actually lets drivers pull the car in and out of parking spaces, while standing on the curb. But there’s a lot more packed into this luxury badge vehicle, too — gesture control, palace-like rear seats, built-in tablet controlled appointments, and art-deco-inspired cabin lighting, to name a few.
3. Honda Civic
The 10th generation Honda Civic features a lot of the style and value that people have always loved about this popular car — with the combination of fresh curves and high-quality Honda design, MotorTrend calls the Honda Civic “one of the most popular economy cars in America,” and panelists made the choice based on economy and value. In general, the 2016 Honda Civic has been winning a lot of attention as a fresh way to enjoy a traditional value pick.
4. Mazda MX-5 Miata
The Mazda Miata has always been a flagship part of the automaker’s product line, and this particular model gets a critical style refresh that customers have been eagerly anticipating for a long time. The Miata is also among the top choices for sporty two-seater cars that look good with the top down. It’s overall one of the best new-car buys (used, too, come to think of it) as it offers unparalleled fun for the dollar.
5. Mercedes AMG GT S
Not to be outdone, Mercedes-Benz offers the AMG GT S as a successor to the SLS with features like AMG dynamic select, dynamic suspension, collision prevention assist, rearview camera, blind spot assist, and much more. But what has astounded drivers lucky enough to get behind the wheel of this new model is mostly related to handling, power, and the “sturdiness” of a high-speed drive. Reviewers note a bunch of design features: For instance, getting rid of the oil pan to lower the engine and building a new carbon fiber driveshaft for a lighter unit, which allows for impressive handling above 100 miles per hour.
6. Toyota Mirai
Last but not least, the Toyota Mirai made the list based on its groundbreaking engineering. Taking in a mix of biogases and refined natural gas, the Mirai is, in the words of MotorTrend, “the first mass-production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle available for purchase.” The word Mirai means “future” in Japanese, and Toyota has kicked off a major marketing campaign around the inspiring innovation of this car that, in a sense, can “run on trash.” Alas, despite the decades of work put into it, it was spanked by some old-fashioned American Muscle.