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AAA ranks top cars of 2002

November 24, 2010

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class was the highestrated vehicle overall, with 173 of a possible 200 points, and the Ford Thunderbird was voted "cool car of the year" in the American Automobile Association's Auto Guide Awards announced March 11. A panel of AAA experts tested more than 200 vehicles under everyday driving conditions and awarded points based on ride and handling, acceleration and braking, fuel economy, comfort and convenience, storage space and value. The "cool car of the year" award is based on unique characteristics such as the Thunderbird's wedgeshaped body and porthole windows that are true to the original T-bird design, said AAA spokeswoman Jennifer Mack.

"Any car we evaluated was a contender," she said, "any car that's out there that's unique, trend setting, and makes people sit back and say, 'Wow.' " Last year's "cool car" was the Chrysler PT Cruiser. Aside from scoring the most points overall, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class was the leader in the $50,000-and-higher class. Other passenger car winners in their classes were: Cadillac DeVille, BMW 5-series, Lexus ES 300, Acura 3.2TL, Buick LeSabre, Nissan Altima and Ford Focus. The Cadillac Escalade was the top sport-utility vehicle in the over- $25,000 class, the Toyota Highlander was the top SUV under $25,000, and the Honda Odyssey was the highest-rated minivan.

"AAA Auto Guide winners stand out from the rest by offering the best balance of performance, quality and value," said Dave Van Sickle, director of AAA Automotive and Consumer Information. Several vehicles made the AAA list for a second consecutive year: the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Cadillac DeVille, Acura 3.2TL and Buick LeSabre.