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CR-V, F-150 names Motor Trend vehicles of the year

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By Peter Valdes-Dapena

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Motor Trend magazine has named the Alfa Romeo Giulia its Car of the Year. The finalists included the new, redesigned Honda Accord and the Tesla Model 3.

At the same time, Motor Trend also named the new Honda CR-V its SUV of the Year and the Ford F-150 Truck of the Year.

To be eligible for these awards, a vehicle must be either an all-new model or must have been substantially redesigned for the 2018 model year. Manufacturers lend examples of eligible vehicles to the magazine's staff which subject them to lengthy testing on various test tracks and on real roads.

Most Americans have had little, if any, first-hand experience with Alfa Romeo, a Fiat Chrysler brand. Alfa Romeo left the U.S. market over twenty years ago and, since its recent return, the Giulia is its first mainstream product to be offered here. The 4C, a loud, hard-riding two-seat sports car, went on sale in the U.S. in 2014.

Even with four doors and a much more compliant ride, the Giulia is still very much intended as a "driver's car." While everyone on the staff loved the Giulia Quadrafoglio, with its 505-horsepower engine and $72,000 starting price, the $38,000 base model was even more impressive, Motor Trend editor Ed Loh said.

"For us, it was really the Q2 Giulia, which is the rear-drive base model, 280 horsepower," Loh said. "Super, super sweet Sedan. We've called it out in numerous comparison tests. "

In addition to the car's exciting driving performance, the magazine's staff was also impressed with the Guilia's design, both on the outside and inside, he said.

Tesla has provided very few opportunities to journalists to test the Model 3 but did supply one to Motor Trend. The Tesla Model S won the magazine's Car of the Year award in 2012.

Motor Trend writers were impressed with the Model 3's performance but some were dismayed at the test car's $60,000 price tag. The Model 3 is touted as an "accessible" car with a starting price of $35,000. Among other factors that kept it from winning were rather tight back seats and cheap-seeming interior materials.

The magazine also named the Honda CR-V SUV of the Year. The last-generation CR-V won this award in 2014 but the new, completely redesigned version is even better in a number of ways, Loh said. In particular, it earned high marks for its roomy and very flexible interior space.

"The thing that blew me away about CR-V is just the amount of cubbies and storage space, just how massive it is," Loh said.

Technically, speaking the CR-V was all-new for the 2017 model year, not 2018. But it wasn't available in time for last year's tests so it was included this year, Loh said.

Meanwhile, the Ford F-150 was named Truck of the Year. For the 2018 model year, the Ford truck has a number of changes, including a new 10-speed transmission. The magazine's staff tested four different versions of the truck, including the base model and the high-performance F-150 Raptor.

Besides the engines and transmissions, the staff was also impressed with the level of technology available on the truck, even in the lowest-priced versions, Loh said.

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