So this is what you really want to drive.
And why should we be surprised that the annual Autobytel Consumer Choice Awards are so different than the rest of the critics' awards and "unofficial official" polls? Those polls and critics awards are ultimately popularity contests - and Consumer Choice has something quite a bit more solid behind it.
Such as the vehicle purchase intentions of thousands of serious car buyers. The Autobytel Consumer Choice Awards provide a broad overview of online shopping behavior - shedding light on an exploding automotive marketing medium (the Internet) that now has more influence on new car-buying decisions than either TV or newspaper ads. This year's Consumer Choice Awards once again revealed some striking differences between Autobytel's online shoppers and traditional buyers - notably, a relative online tendency toward import cars and a strong responsiveness to pricing, performance, and feature specifications. Online shoppers respond to quality vehicles that are priced competitively, and are not swayed solely on the merits of a rebate check. Awards were presented to the manufacturers who built the cars and trucks that were the most popular among the 7.7 million average monthly unique visitors who researched and shopped on Autobytel's web sites during 2004, based on Purchase Request data amassed by Autobytel throughout the year. Because of this, the Awards are based on the strongest indicator of online shopping preferences, and provide unique insight into the cars and trucks online automotive shoppers prefer most.
This year, those preferences revealed a changing landscape where long-time favorites remain, but unmistakable shifts in buyer choices are now occurring. Though the Ford Explorer, a traditional bestseller, won for SUV of the year, one day online shoppers will select a crossover vehicle as number one. Over the past two years, in fact, truck-based SUVs have seen their online market share dwindle from a virtual domination to a sharing of power with crossover vehicles, those car-like SUVs that save in gas and boost performance.
That's not all - this year, online shoppers indicated that the recent resurgence of minivans is no trend: minivans, thanks to redesigns such as the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey, have staying power with online shoppers because, as our editors so presciently reported, minivans are flat out the best family cars available today.
It's not all about buying for the family, though. These same shoppers also gave a big thumbs up to power and attitude by choosing the Chrysler 300/300C as New Model of the Year.
So here they are. The best sellers of 2004 - and beyond. The cars that you chose, not some high-'falutin group of editors who don't actually buy the cars - they just drive 'em. And while a fella can tell a lot about a car as it rolls down the road, he learns so much more when he has to write a check for it at the end of the month.