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Press Release




Craig Fitzgerald




(508) 528-1438




Volvo XC90 shines as the star of the fifth annual Winter Vehicle competition.


BOSTON, Mass. - The New England Motor Press Association (NEMPA) has announced the results of the 2003 "NEMPA Official Winter Vehicle of New England" competition. Manufacturers shipped their latest entries to the region for judgment by a panel of seasoned automotive writers, broadcasters and commentators intent on determining which vehicle was best suited to meet the needs, wants and desires of the New England driver. Notoriously fierce winters, with ice, snow, sand and frost-damaged roads combine to make New England the ultimate testing ground for winter preparedness.


Vehicles were separated into 14 individual classes, and the panel cast one vote for their choice of Official Winter Vehicle. Winners in the individual classes will receive a "Best in Class." Award. These vehicles have been receiving extended judgment throughout New England for the entire winter, allowing NEMPA members to evaluate performance in all weather conditions.


Winners of the competition will be publicly announced on March 18, 2003 at a special NEMPA meeting held at the Boston Globe.


2003 New England Motor Press Association Official Winter Vehicle


Volvo XC90


NEMPA members were nearly unanimous in their praise for this all-new winter-fighter from a company that knows a thing or two about lousy weather. NEMPA members commented that the Volvo XC90 "Sets the standard for luxury SUVs" and is "Worthy of the Volvo nameplate." One member went so far as to call the XC90 the "best SUV on the planet for everyday use."


Individual Classes


Best in class Sports Car -under $30,000


Subaru WRX


For the second straight year, Subaru garners top honors for this nimble, fun-loving winter winner. All-wheel drive, a potent turbocharged flat four-cylinder, and stealthy, grocery-getter looks make the WRX the top choice in less expensive sports cars.


Best in Class People Mover


Chrysler Town and Country AWD


How many times can this happen? There is now a standing order at the trophy shop for the Chrysler Town and Country AWD. Even as the competition begins to come around to the fact that all-wheel drive makes a minivan a nearly perfect vehicle for winter weather, the Chrysler still has what it takes to make the top of the list.


Best in Class Mini SUV


Honda Element


One of several all-new entries to receive top honors in its class, the Element is sure to be a consistent favorite. According to our panel, it offers "unique fun" that "reaches beyond the youth market." Or, in the words of one panelist, "Form does follow function...or is it the other way around?"


Best in Class Midsize SUV - Under $25,000


Kia Sorrento


The Sorrento, in its first year on the market, was the clear winner in this category. Panelists felt that the Sorrento offered the "best value for the money," and that it proved that "inexpensive doesn't have to mean cheap." "Watch out Toyota, the Koreans are serious."


Best in Class Midsize SUV -$25,000 - $35,000


Toyota 4Runner


The previous 4Runner was a formidable challenger, even though its design predated most of its competition. But with a complete redesign for the 2003 model year, the 4Runner reaches the top of its class. According to our jurors, "Toyota managed to make a good product even better."


Best in Class Midsize SUV - $35,000 and up


Lincoln Aviator


With so much competition in this segment, the winner in this category really had its work cut out. In the end, judging was extremely tight, but just edging out the competition was the Lincoln Aviator. Members felt the Aviator offered the best blend of performance, practicality and design in this category.


Best in Class Full-size SUV


Lincoln Navigator


Would you like to super-size that class-winning Lincoln Aviator, sir? If the answer is yes, then the vehicle is the Lincoln Navigator, which beat out the competition in this highly competitive, rapidly expanding segment. Our panelists felt that "What started out as a gussied-up Expedition has turned into a stunning vehicle in its own right. The Navigator's beautiful interior alone should give the European manufacturers pause."


Best in Class Compact Pickup Truck


Subaru Baja


Is it really a truck? The marketing folks over at Subaru may disagree that it's an XUV or an SUT or a XUT or whatever they've cooked up between lattes, but we - the true experts - call it what it is. The big question our panelists wanted to answer: "Honey, did you wash the Avalanche in hot water?"


Best in Class Full-Sized Pickup Truck


Dodge Ram 2500


"Hemi. What more needs to be said?" That's what one of our jurors felt. Statements like that carried the day for the Dodge Ram 2500. It's combination of raw power and standout styling made the Hemi a winning choice for '03.


Best in Class All Weather Sedan - Under $30,000


Audi A4 1.8T quattro


Chalk up another win for the Audi A4, a perpetual winner in this class. Perhaps it's because, as one member commented, the A4 "feels like so much more." Or maybe because it offers the "interior quality of a much better car." Or that it's "nimble and sticks to the road in any weather." Whatever the reason, our panelists consistently feel that the A4 is a standout in the under $30,000 segment.


Best in Class All Weather Sedan - Over $30,000


Volvo S60 AWD


Also a returning champion, the Volvo S60 AWD just barely edged out the competition for this rapidly broadening segment. Volvo has always been recognized for building safe, sturdy cars. The S60 builds on that reputation.


Best in Class All Weather Wagon - Under $30,000


Subaru Outback


Once again, the Subaru Outback makes the cut for frugal New Englanders. Our panelists felt that the Outback "offered everything a small family in New England could possibly want in an all-weather wagon."


Best in Class All Weather Wagon - Over $30,000


Volvo XC70


As other manufacturers rush to catch up, Volvo wins top honors with its solid, sturdy XC70. "Striking styling, all-weather prowess, and remarkable utility" make the Volvo XC70 a constant favorite.


Best in Class Extreme Vehicle


Hummer H2


The Extreme Vehicle is reserved for those over-the-top vehicles that defy categorization.


The Hummer H2 takes the bold outline of the burly H1 and shoves it into a more manageable platform. Our panelists recommend the H2 if you're game to "stand out from the crowd." Improving upon the H1's "challenged" noise, vibration and harshness scores, our panelists were pleased to find that "finally, you can have a conversation at 60 miles per hour."


About the New England Motor Press Association


The New England Motor Press Association is dedicated to the support and advancement of automotive journalists in the New England area. Our membership consists of some of the best-known automotive writers, photographers, radio personalities and television commentators in the nation.

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