Another year and another few hundred new cars and trucks have driven through the Autoweek garage for editorial evaluation. To what end? Well, other than giving you our unvarnished opinions, it really comes down to this -- when we present the annual Autoweek Best of the Best/Car and Best of the Best/Truck awards.
Think about what it takes to get to this point: Each year, a slew of new cars and trucks hits the market. Each year, automakers spend tens of thousands of hours designing, engineering and manufacturing these cars; if these aren't the most complex consumer products available, we don't know what are. Each new vehicle is expected to have best-in-class performance, economy, fit and finish, and reliability, to name just a few key areas. Billions of dollars ride on them, as does the success (or failure) of their companies.
With the level of this automotive game as high as it is, it's daunting to make a good car or truck -- let alone great ones -- but that's exactly what Chevrolet has done. Think of their accomplishment as the grand-slam lotto winner in not one, but two categories: the all-American performance halo car in its seventh generation of influencing car passion, and the all-American truck that is, well, all-American. For 2014, these are the Best of the Best, pure and simple.
What does the title mean exactly? Of all those new cars and trucks driven, we've narrowed them to the two we collectively think sit at the pinnacle of the automotive mountain. We choose the most appealing and enjoyable vehicles to own -- those we'd happily drive every day.
The process includes track testing, driving around Detroit streets for a couple weeks, taking cars and trucks on vacation, and consulting with our West Coast team, which experiences the same vehicles in different conditions. It's thorough.
To be considered, a car or truck must be all new or substantively new -- those boasting only small facelifts or minimal mechanical updates are not considered. (Models not available for testing by the end of the calendar year count for the next year's judging.) Cars are sedans, coupes, convertibles, hatchbacks and wagons. Trucks are pickups, crossovers, minivans and SUVs. Once we narrow it down to our finalists, we spend three days at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., and the surrounding two-lanes. We grade drivetrain, ride quality, handling, exterior styling and, of course, fun. We look at refinement and design. We consider whether the car is a good value. Points are tallied for each category.
This year, for the first time ever, we have a sweep: Chevrolet wins both with two new entries, its Corvette and its Silverado pickup. Congratulations to General Motors and the Chevrolet team with an extraordinary effort -- and execution -- indeed. Two of them, in fact.