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International Car of the Year Awards

A little bit of Hollywood came to the Motor City on Saturday night.

In what felt like the Academy Awards ®, complete with live music, talented presenters and an entertaining script, the winners of the International Car of the Year (ICOTY) awards were revealed to a room full of media, VIPs and auto execs.

The 9th annual ICOTY awards took place in Detroit just before Press Days at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Unlike many automotive awards which are based on specs, performance and styling, ICOTY awards are presented for the emotionally compelling reasons people buy cars and how the cars relate to their lifestyles. New car purchase decisions are often based on emotions rather than specs, which make these winners quite relevant to consumers shopping for a new automobile.

The International Car of the Year awards are the brainchild of Courtney Caldwell, editor-in-chief of Road & Travel Magazine. Started in 1997, the ICOTYs reflect a particular stage or mindset in one's life, representing how cars make us feel. "It's not about camshafts and chrome, or zero to sixty," said Caldwell during her introductory speech. "It's about the emotional connection and relationships people have with their cars. It's about lifestyle and life stages."

In order to be eligible for an ICOTY honor, a vehicle must be a brand new model or have significant changes in design and/or technology from the previous year. Winners are selected by meeting at least 7 of 12 criteria including: appealing to women & men, head-turning ability, ergonomically friendly, style, affordability, performance, practical, grocery-getting potential, safe & dependable, proud to be seen in, fun factor, and very cool.

Winners are chosen in ten categories of automobiles by a diverse jury of 12 notable automotive journalists. Among these jurors are MSN Autos editor Perry Stern as well as longtime MSN Autos contributor Ann Job.

The most prestigious of the ICOTY awards, Car of the Year, went to the Chrysler 300C. This innovative full-size sedan from Chrysler has become the hot car to have in 2005, with bold styling, a high-performance HEMI V8 engine, impressive handling and a stylish, roomy interior.
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