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2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contenders & Finalists

Motor Trend Logo Motor Trend | Slide 1 of 51: 2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year aerial view

2016 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contenders & Finalists

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.

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.

Click through the gallery to review the contenders and finalists, in advance of the official winner announcement on the evening of November 16.

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