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For 11 years now, Road & Travel Magazine has bestowed its own brand of awards on the new year's crop of cars and trucks. Called ICOTY, for International Car of the Year, these awards draw a rich crop of industry heavyweights to a gala black-tie-suggested celebration on the Saturday night before press previews begin for Detroit's North American International Auto Show. With its overtones of the Academy Awards, this event has become a coveted ticket and the unofficial kickoff of the Detroit show.
This year, Road & Travel Editor in Chief-turned-Executive Producer Courtney Caldwell put on her usual lavish show (which WWJ, the local CBS affiliate, taped for airing during NAIAS public days). The ICOTY Awards recognize 10 vehicles for model-year 2007, placing a special emphasis on the emotional connection they create with their owners: International Car of the Year, International Truck of the Year, Most Compatible (minivan), Most Resourceful (SUV), Most Dependable (sedan), Most Spirited (entry-level car), Most Athletic (pickup truck), Most Versatile (crossover), Most Sex Appeal (sports car) and Most Respected (luxury car). There is also the Heart String Award, which goes to the most emotionally compelling car commercial (won by the "Father and Son" Ford Mustang spot), and the Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to longtime automotive journalist and ace spy photographer, Jim Dunne.
The judging panel for the ICOTY Awards is a distinguished group of a dozen automotive journalists from a wide variety of outlets, including the venerable David E. Davis, Jr., Inside Line columnist Ken Gross, and even yours truly, editorial director here at Edmunds.com. Ms. Caldwell was even gracious enough to let me get up on stage and co-host the awards ceremony with her. It was a grand evening.