Earlier this month we named TopSpeed’s picks for car, truck, and performance car of the year. Following out strict criteria of judging things like overall improvement in design, safety, value and intended function (among other things,) we chose the Mazda MX-5 Miata as the car of the year, and the Nisan Titan XD as truck of the year. Following our points system, the Miata and Titan scored 32 points and 30 points, respectively. It was a relatively close battle, though, with the 2016 Honda Civic taking 20 points and the 2016 Volvo XC90 taking 24 points, earning them both a second place spot on our list in their respective segments. As it turns out, those second place picks have officially been named Car and Truck of the year, so you could say we judged the automotive market pretty well this year.

The North American Car of the Year and Truck of the Year is chosen by a group of 53 international automotive journalists. All 53 journalists are from the U.S. or Canada, and they carefully consider each model before naming the absolute best. Sometimes it can be difficult to get a small group of people to agree on something, so just imagine the conversations between this select group of people.

When it comes to deciding a winner for each category, the journalists take into consideration things like design, safety, performance, innovation, value, and even driver satisfaction. I’m sure it wasn’t a very easy choice to come to, but this year, the group chose the 2016 Honda Civic as the North American Car of the Year and the Volvo XC90 as the 2016 North American Truck of the Year.

The 2016 Honda Civic was redesigned for the 2016 model year, and was underpinned by a whole new vehicle platform. Safety features included things like Honda Sensing and a list of semi-autonomous technologies like lane departure warning with lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and an automatic emergency braking system. It is also the first compact car in the world to include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as part of its infotainment system. It’s also the first Civic to take on Honda’s turbo engine technology. It should be noted that both the Sedan and Coupe variants of the Civic are built in either Indiana or Ontario, using domestic and globally sourced parts.

The Volvo XC90 was chosen as Truck of the Year by the same 53 automotive journalists. This year, it too is built on a whole new architecture and includes a whole new powertrain and semi-autonomous technology. Offering up configurations in the five- or seven-passenger variety, the XC90 is a trusted family hauler, and available with several engine configurations. At the low end, the XC90 offers up 250 horsepower, while a 316 horsepower turbocharged engine is also available. In hybrid form, the XC90 offers up and amazing 400 horsepower and 53 MPGe – the first seven-passenger plug-in hybrid vehicle. Like all Volvo models, the XC90 comes with Volvo’s amazing City Safety system that includes automatic emergency braking, pilot assist, and pedestrian protection. The XC90 was also on the IIHS’ Safety Pick+ list.

Continue reading to learn more about the story.

Why it matters

Personally, I’ve always been a big fan of Hondas, and the Civic, for that matter. Never been that big of a fan of Volvos, but in the recent years, I’ve become quite keen of the brand. I’m still not sure about the idea of calling an SUV like the XC90 a truck, but to each their own, I guess. Either way, both of these vehicles have turned out to be leaders in their segments for the 2016 model year, and rightfully so, they deserve the labels they have officially received – even if the XC90 isn’t really a “truck.”

In all honesty, it’s about time we see the Civic take the honor again. It hasn’t received the award since 2006. It has had a bit of a rocky ride, but Honda finally brought us a Civic worth talking about with the new model year. As far as Volvo goes, the XC90 is the start of big things to come from the automaker. As the President and CEO of Volvo, Lex Kerssemakers, put it, “We are absolutely thrilled that the XC90 has won this prestigious and most respected award, and there is a lot more to come. By 2019, Volvo will have a totally renewed product portfolio. By then the all-new XC90 will be the oldest car in the showroom.” That is a pretty bold statement to say the least, but after winning the Truck of the Year Award, Volvo should have all the motivation it needs to build a whole new lineup – just in time for 2020 when autonomous cars are going to start taking over the roadways.

Honda Civic

2016 Honda Civic High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the Honda Civic here.

Volvo XC90

2016 Volvo XC90 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the Volvo XC90 here.

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