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Motor Trend Names 2013 Car of the Year

For the first time in the 64-year history of the award, a vehicle not powered by an internal combustion engine has been selected as the Motor Trend Car of the Year.

This year's winner is the 2013 Tesla Model S. Publication officials said the decision came after a diverse group of 25 contenders (45 with variants) were put through Motor Trend's extensive battery of testing designed to examine virtually every aspect of each vehicle.

When all was said and done, the panel of 11 judges voted unanimously for the Tesla Model S.

"Our aspiration with the Model S was to show that an electric car truly can be better than any gasoline car, which is a critical step towards the widespread adoption of sustainable transport," said Elon Musk, Tesla Motors co-founder and chief executive officer.

"Nothing illustrates this more clearly than winning Motor Trend's Car of the Year by unanimous decision against a field of exceptional competitors," Musk added.

In addition to the Tesla Model S, the 2013 Car of the Year competition included:

-Chevrolet Spark
-Dodge Dart
-Nissan Sentra
-Acura ILX
-BMW 3 Series (Finalist)
-Cadillac ATS (Finalist)
-Hyundai Azera
-Lexus ES
-Toyota Avalon (Finalist)
-Chevrolet Malibu
-Ford Fusion (Finalist)
-Honda Accord (Finalist)
-Nissan Altima
-Cadillac XTS
-Lexus GS (Finalist)
-Lexus LS
-Mercedes-Benz S
-CODA
-Ford C-Max Hybrid (Finalist)
-Toyota Prius C
-Porsche 911 (Finalist)
-Porsche Boxster (Finalist)
-Scion FR-S
-Subaru BRZ (Finalist)

To determine which model deserved top honors, the Motor Trend staff conducted Phase I of its testing at Hyundai/Kia's state-of-the-art facility near Mojave, Calif. During the intense workout, the judges were able to test each vehicle in a closed course environment, which allowed for consistency and repeatability. Judges narrowed the field to a short list of finalists for Car of the Year with the following tests:

-Standard testing: 0 to 60 mph and 1/4-mile acceleration, 60 to 0 mph braking and Motor Trend's signature figure-eight handling test.

-High-Speed Loop: Three lanes, 6.4 miles with a smooth surface and constant-radius turns to evaluate engine noise and transmission shift quality during significant acceleration.

-Freeway Surfaces: One lane, 1.25 miles sectioned into replicas of Los Angeles' most notorious freeways, allowing observation of ride quality, noise and suspension tuning.

-Winding Track: Two lanes, 3.1 miles consisting of a combination of fast-sweeping corners, decreasing high-radius hairpins, a tight right-left-right switchback and three manmade hills to test power, braking, and chassis balance.

Phase I was intended to eliminate vehicles that did not measure up to the award's six criteria: advancement in design, engineering excellence, efficiency, safety, value, and performance of intended function.

Officials said the Car of the Year is not chosen from a direct comparison against the other contenders, but rather as a result of how it measures up to these key criteria.

Judges narrowed the field to 11 models that would live to fight on in Phase II, a 28.5-mile mix of highways, city streets and tight canyon roads through scenic Tehachapi, Calif. Judges focused on how the 11 finalists performed in real-world conditions to evaluate factors including road and wind noise, steering response, and ride quality, as well as features in the car such as audio, climate, and infotainment systems (navigation, hands-free voice controls and smart phone pairing).

After this stage, the judges revisited the six criteria and deliberate in order to select the Car of the Year.

"We had an extremely competitive field for Motor Trend's Car of the Year," said Edward Loh, editor in chief of Motor Trend. "However, the Tesla Model S floored our panel of judges. The goal of the award is to name the car that best meets our six criteria, and the Tesla Model S accomplished that best. It is a testament not only to the luxury sedan and electric car segment, but to American engineering overall.

"To be the first car in the 64-year history of the award to be powered by something other than gasoline must mean it is very special. It is, and thus we're excited to name the Tesla Model S our 2013 Car of the Year," Loh concluded.