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Annual awards doled out in recognition of memorable performances

With auto show season here, it's time to unleash the pontificating Zoomie to regale you with his picks of the automotive world's finest.

You'll recall that Zoomie gives out awards to the top cars and trucks that have been test driven in the past 52 weeks. Certainly there are garages full of automotive finery that we'd all enjoy driving - if we had the cash - yet Zoomie aims to give his top prize to a car or truck that most of us could afford without mortgaging our house.

The top Zoomie always goes to a vehicle that personifies good styling, good value and generally delivers a major "upside quotient" of fun behind the wheel, even if we're just off to the supermarket.

Being awards season, Zoomie also traditionally wraps up the previous automotive year by highlighting a few performances that closely resemble those in the cinematic world.

You may have noticed these performances:

2 Fast and 2 Furious: GM has been introducing a new model a month lately and plans at least a dozen in 12 months, with Chevy debuting at least eight in the next year.

Finding Nemo: Porsche has been battling to avoid being gobbled up by bigger automotive fish and launched a sport-utility truck, the Cayenne, to gain revenue. So far the tactic is working: Porsche sales in 2003 were up 33.3%.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Long discounted as being the stodgy car of the retired set, Cadillac is returning to the top of the luxury car kingdom with a legion of new, edgy and sporty products.

Something's Gotta Give: It wasn't that long ago that GM, Ford and Chrysler constituted the Big Three. But after slipping past Chrysler a few years back, Toyota continues its relentless march up the automotive food chain. In 2003, it edged Ford for the No. 2 spot in vehicle sales. GM might want to check over its shoulder.

Lost in Translation: Used to be that the radio signals could get garbled as you headed out into the hinterlands. Clearing up the situation is satellite radio, primarily XM radio that now comes on dozens of car makes, with GM leading the way.

X2: It's only a matter of time before BMW releases another X on unsuspecting consumers. It already has the X3 and X5 and there can never be enough Xs as you try and capture more Generation X dollars now that the Yuppies are aging.

Terminator 3: The domestic Big 3 dominate the full-size pickup market with Ford's F-150 leading all vehicles in sales, followed by Chevy's Silverado and Dodge's Ram. But the Nissan Titan pickup looks tough and early reviews say it is a serious competitor in the pickup market.

Hulk: Hummer saw its sales bulk up when it added the hefty H2 to its already muscular lineup. Hummer had the biggest sales increase for 2003, an 80.1% jump. Wait until its HT2 pickup hits the streets.

The Missing: Oldsmobile, the oldest U.S. automaker, continues to slowly fade away after being cut adrift by GM.

Master and Commander: Bob Lutz continues to show his mastery of design and exciting automotive products as he comes out of retirement to help GM. While at Chrysler, he steered its design teams through rough waters until the automaker became the most innovative in North America.

The Zoomie automotive awards
Zoomie drove a lot of good metal this past year, but a few of the vehicles that have been garnering awards from the national magazines and media haven't quite made it to the frozen northlands yet. Vehicles like the Nissan Titan pickup and Mazda RX8 will have to wait a year to be tested. If nothing else, Zoomie is patient.

Here's what was fun and Zoomie worthy:

Best affordable rocket: Pontiac's new GTO may not take your breath away to look at it, but the GTO is as exciting as a Corvette from an acceleration standpoint. Oh, and it's priced where Corvettes were about 10 years ago.

Best glimpse of the future: Toyota's Prius, the second generation, shows everyone that hybrid cars not only work, they can be family-friendly and functional. Prius gets super gas mileage, cuts emissions and has room for four to ride in comfort.

Best surprise of the year: Suzuki's Verona midsize sedan is easily the winner. The car is solid and feels like a Camry or Accord, but for a lot less money.

Best new wagon: The Audi S4 Avant Quattro wagon is as sporty as any sport sedan, but gives you extra cargo room in back. And it's a real wagon, not pretending to be a crossover vehicle. Unfortunately the price tag is high.

Best SUV: Mitsubishi's Endeavor offers good looks and excellent ride, handling and power for a modest price. The base model starts at $25,597 and a four-wheel-drive version is just shy of $30,000. I was impressed.

Best pocket rocket under $21,000: The MazdaSpeed Protege is impressive with its 170-horsepower turbo and specially tuned suspension. It handles great and checks in at just $21,000. A close second is the tricked-out Dodge Neon, or SRT-4, but its seats aren't as comfortable.

Best pocket rocket: The Subaru Impreza WRX STi is by far the most impressive racer-type car I've driven in several years. It features a 300-horsepower, turbo, four-cylinder engine. Coupled with its four-wheel drive, you wonder if you added wings whether it might just fly.

Best sports coupe: The best new coupe is the Infiniti G35, a superb blend of exterior styling, performance and price. For about $33,500 you get form, function and fun, including a smooth 280-horsepower V-6.

Best sport/luxury sedan: Infiniti outdid itself with the M45, a handsome luxury sedan that delivers more performance than most such cars. The 340-horsepower V-8 makes the car a luxury muscle car. Plus it's priced well below many other such sedans.

Best truck: Ford didn't sit still when it revamped the F-150 for 2004. It developed a new chassis that is so much more rigid that it redefines how a good, solid full-size pickup should handle.

Runner-up car of the year: The new Mazda6 is one heck of a car and came within a hair of winning. For roughly $21,000 you get a sleek-looking sedan with a 220-horsepower, V-6 engine, four-wheel disc brakes, traction control and a slick-shifting five-speed manual transmission. The engine is incredibly quiet, too. Handling and ride are good and interior room is fine for four, making this a fun drive, good for family trips and reasonably priced.

But to really deck it out well, the test car hit $25,345, and that was so close to the winning car's $26,490 price that I couldn't help but move a bit more upscale this year.

Zoomie car of the year: Acura's TSX sport sedan offers everything I want in a car - superb fit and finish, comfortable seats, a well-chiseled, sophisticated yet sporty exterior, excellent acceleration, great gas mileage, wonderful handling and ride and top-notch safety equipment. And, the TSX does all that at roughly the price of other well-equipped sport sedans.

For folks who want style and performance, with a good deal of luxury thrown in for a modest price, the TSX is a wonder. Couple that with Acura's top-five quality rating as a carmaker and you've got a powerful argument for "car of the year" honors in any class.

The TSX features a 200-horsepower, four-cylinder engine that uses Honda's i-VTEC system that automatically adjusts valve-timing to boost performance and save gasoline. I got more than 29 miles per gallon and I can't recall any car that I've driven that gives that kind of economy with so much performance.

Car and Driver named the TSX to its top 10 list.

Trust me, TSX is a champ that deserves every kudo it receives, including the Zoomie.

http://www.jsonline.com/wheels/peak/feb04/208990.asp
 

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You know they have everything right, except FORD is still number 2. Toyota said in a news release that if you compared apples to apples (counted sales the same way) Ford is number 2.
 

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tsxclub said:
Annual awards doled out in recognition of memorable performances

The TSX features a 200-horsepower, four-cylinder engine that uses Honda's i-VTEC system that automatically adjusts valve-timing to boost performance and save gasoline. I got more than 29 miles per gallon and I can't recall any car that I've driven that gives that kind of economy with so much performance.

Car and Driver named the TSX to its top 10 list.

Trust me, TSX is a champ that deserves every kudo it receives, including the Zoomie.

http://www.jsonline.com/wheels/peak/feb04/208990.asp
At 29 mpg, you have to wonder did he drive the auto or the 6-speed? :confused:

The best I've managed so far was over 27 mpg, of course I could've done better if I could keep my right foot from pushing so hard. :laugh:
 

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Great find boss.

This part of the article pretty much sums up the very reasons why I bought this car.
"Acura's TSX sport sedan offers everything I want in a car - superb fit and finish, comfortable seats, a well-chiseled, sophisticated yet sporty exterior, excellent acceleration, great gas mileage, wonderful handling and ride and top-notch safety equipment."

Funny how the look of the exterior, acceleration, and the gas mileage are often targets of criticism for this car but I think it's relative to what you were driving prior to this car. For me it's an upgrade in all 3 categories, thus my enthusiasm for this car.
 
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