Kelley Blue Book has named the Honda Civic the "Best Redesigned Vehicle of 2006." According to kbb.com editors, who used an assist from a representative sample of the buying public, the all-new Civic is the most-improved vehicle on the U.S. market for the 2006 model year, making significant strides in exterior design, interior accommodations and mechanical excellence.
Kelley Blue Book has been naming the "Best Redesigned Vehicle" for each model year since 2003, but this time we decided to add the voice of the customer to the award process. Kbb.com editors chose a list of 10 semi-finalist vehicles that were significantly redesigned for the 2006 model year and carry the model name of a previously available vehicle. Among the selection criteria were vehicles that maintained existing brand image, function and purpose but made substantial advancements in the 2006 model-year redesign to enhance appearance, comfort, technology and convenience. Market-significance and overall improvement were also selection factors.
After the 10 semi-finalists were chosen, random consumer visitors to kbb.com were given the opportunity to participate in a survey to choose the Best Redesigned Vehicle. After opting into the survey, site visitors were given "before" (2004 or 2005 model-year) and "after" (2006 model year) photos of each of the 10 vehicles along with brief descriptions of significant changes made to the exterior, interior and running gear of each model. Consumers were asked to choose which vehicle made the most improvements to the 2006 model when compared to the previous model.
"The bold new exterior design of the 2006 Honda Civic is much more attractive and expressive than the previous model, and consumers have responded to it right away," said Jack R. Nerad, editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book and kbb.com. "When you add a flashy-but-functional two-level instrument panel and an impressive boost in horsepower, you've got quite a winning combination."
The "Best Redesigned Model" award was won by domestic vehicles -- Ford F-150 and Ford Mustang -- the past two years, but this model year no domestic model made the list of 10 semi-finalists, largely because the domestic manufacturers chose to add new model names and discontinue old ones for 2006, rather than redesigning current models.
2006 Honda Civic
Two-tiered instrument panel for increased functionality. Advanced safety in body structure, side curtain, drivers and front-passenger airbags and anti-lock braking. New engines with improved fuel economy and lower emissions.
2006 Volkswagen Passat
3.6-liter V6 engine has a narrow-angle design with significant growth in displacement, brawn and refinement. More width and legroom, especially in the rear seating area. Luxury-like comfort and convenience features such as umbrella holder, electronic parking brake and 12-way power seats.
2006 Lexus GS 300
First Lexus sedan to offer AWD. Six-speed sequential-shift automatic transmission. Dynamic Radar Cruise Control maintains pre-set following distance and reduces throttle and applies brakes when alerted. Adaptive front lighting system enables the vehicle's headlamps to rotate into each twist and turn, illuminating more of the road around a curve.
2006 Infiniti M45
Intelligent All-Wheel Drive which changes to rear-wheel drive when not needed. Lane Departure Warning (LDW) system. New engines - V8 in the M45 and V6 in the M35. Five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and downshift rev matching.
2006 BMW 3 Series
All new engine with increased power and torque. New six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. Reduced fuel consumption. Improved aerodynamics with new-look body design.
2006 Mazda MX-5
Improved handling via an advanced suspension and powerful disc brakes. Newly engineered engine performance based on a response new 142-hp, 16 valve engine with variable valve timing. A new short-throw 5-speed manual transmission (6-speed available on Miata LS).
2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse
New 3.8-liter MIVEC engine with 263 horsepower, 260 lb-ft of torque. Competition-inspired coupe bodywork. Addition of front air bags, front seat-mounted side-impact air bags and side curtain air bags. 650-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system and power sunroof available in "Sun and Sound" package.
2006 Mercedes-Benz ML-Class
The world's first seven-speed automatic transmission on an SUV . Improved spaciousness of all five seating positions. Knee room is increased by over an inch. Better fuel mileage due to hydrody-namic torque converter with a special lock-up clutch.
2006 Hyundai Sonata
Two inches taller and two inches longer than previous Sonata. Dual front airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags and improved crumple zones. New engines with increases in power in both the four-cylinder (up 24 horsepower) and the V6 (up 65 horsepower.)
2006 Kia Rio
New 1.6-Liter 110 horsepower engine with continuously variable valve timing. Claimed best-in-class 92.2 cubic feet of passenger room. Clean, wedge-shaped exterior design. Equipped with six standard airbags, including dual front and front-seat-mounted airbags and full-length side curtain airbags.