Car of the Year

2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year Introduction

Small Field, Big Dreams

Small Field, Big Dreams

For the first time in recent memory, SUV of the Year had more new models than any other of our Of the Year competitions. But that doesn’t make Car of the Year any less important. How do you compare a diverse field of cars that runs on everything from hydrogen to diesel? It’s easy: We don’t. Rather, we seek to compare each to the ideal within its segment, and to do that we use six key criteria: advancement in design, efficiency, engineering excellence, performance of intended function, safety, and value. To narrow down our contenders to a group of finalists, we’re let loose on Hyundai Motor Group’s 4,300-acre California City Proving Grounds.

Hyundai Motor Group’s California Proving Grounds has been COTY’s home for the past 10 years. Thank you!

Over two days, each of our judges drives every vehicle on a 6.4-mile high-speed oval where we test attributes including highway road manners and passing ability, a winding track where we assess limit performance, and an especially punishing rough road track with a variety of special testing surfaces where we judge ride quality. The purpose of these two days is to decide which cars become finalists.

Stay tuned to as the 2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year contenders and finalists are revealed in advance of the official winner announcement on the evening of November 16. Read about our Car of the Year contenders below.

The next step took us 35 miles down the road to Tehachapi, California, home of our 28.5-mile Car of the Year drive loop. This extensive drive loop includes real-world city driving; broken, unloved pavement; a 1,000-foot elevation gain; and plenty of freeway time. It’s during these loops that one finalist proves it best lives up to our six key criteria.

After hours of impassioned debate, lots of pizza and Red Bull, and a little beer, we finally settled on the newest winner of the Golden Calipers. From 15 vehicles to just one, stay tuned to to meet our 2016 Car of the Year on the evening of November 16.

2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contenders:


Advancement in Design

Well-executed exterior and interior styling, innovative vehicle packaging, and a good selection and use of materials.


Each vehicle’s price and equipment levels compared with those of vehicles in the same market segment.

Performance of Intended Function

How well the vehicle does the job its planners, designers, and engineers intended it to do.


Fuel efficiency and carbon footprint size relative to the vehicle’s competitive set.


The ability to help avoid a crash, plus secondary safety measures to protect occupants during an accident.

Engineering Excellence

Total vehicle concept and execution; clever solutions to packaging, manufacturing, and dynamics; and cost-effective technology that benefits consumers.


  • Scott Burgess
  • Jason Cammisa
  • Tom Gale
  • Jonny Lieberman
  • Edward Loh
  • Angus MacKenzie
  • Christian Seabaugh
  • Chris Theodore
  • Chris Walton