Toyota Sequoia Takes Top Spot in 2008 Motorist Choice Awards : - Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge Brands off Winners List since 2006 -

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SOURCE INTERLINK MEDIA’s (NYSE:SORC) IntelliChoice.com, the online source for automotive ownership cost and value analysis, and AutoPacific, the industry source for owner satisfaction rankings, today announced the results of their third annual Motorist Choice Awards for model year 2008. With better than expected insurance costs, the Toyota Sequoia scored highest of any vehicle, a position bolstered by its standing as best in ownership costs and best in retained value. Most surprisingly, this year’s list of winners does not include vehicles from Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge or Mini Cooper.

In fact, in our Large Crossover SUV segment, every vehicle is an all new release within the last 24 months. The contenders for both new Crossover SUV segments are two of the closest categories.

There were some relatively new winners garnering top spots including the Nissan Rogue and the Honda Fit, and although the list is fairly diverse among manufacturers, Toyota (10 awards including Lexus), and General Motors (nine awards), thanks to brands such as Cadillac, Chevrolet and Saturn, dominated.

The Motorist Choice Awards were designed by AutoPacific and IntelliChoice.com to recognize the vehicles that delivered both the highest customer satisfaction and the lowest cost of ownership. The awards take AutoPacific's owner satisfaction data from new car and truck buyers and combine those data with IntelliChoice.com's rating methodology to create a new kind of award that speaks to both the hearts and wallets of car buyers.

"Several winners this year are relatively new, such as the Nissan Rogue, Honda Fit, GMC Acadia and Saturn Sky, while others are a surprise, such as the Large Light Duty Pickup and Compact Pickup winners, the Chevy Avalanche and Honda Ridgeline. The surprise is that neither of these are what would be considered 'regular' trucks and therefore show their value to their owners," said James Bell, publisher and editor of IntelliChoice.com. "The absence of Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge vehicles is regrettable and parallels their current sales situation. None of the vehicles from these brands rated particularly well within either AutoPacific's or IntelliChoice.com's individual analysis."

"Due to the economy and fuel costs, more and more people who want a larger vehicle are focusing on Crossover SUVs rather than traditional SUVs or gas-guzzlers. We added two new Crossover segments highlighting this growing class of vehicle," said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. "In fact, in our Large Crossover SUV segment, every vehicle is an all new release within the last 24 months. The contenders for both new Crossover SUV segments are two of the closest categories."

WINNERS

For this year's awards, Intellichoice.com and AutoPacific identified 27 winners in 26 segments (see below table) and selected winners in four major categories of vehicle. This year's roster added three new segments: Large Crossover SUV, Premium Luxury Crossover SUV, and Premium Mid-Size SUV. These additions highlight the recent growth of the SUV market just as sales of these vehicles are stalling.

Cars: Lexus LS

Trucks: Chevrolet Avalanche

SUV/Crossover: Toyota Sequoia (Top Overall Winner)

Minivans: Toyota Sienna

Bell added that any vehicle scoring 700 or higher in the Motorist Choice Awards can be considered in the top tier of highly desirable new cars or trucks. "There were 44 outstanding vehicles scoring 700 or better. Last year, only 25 vehicles scored above that standard, which certainly speaks to the quality of vehicles being produced today. Some vehicles scored very well, but didn't make the winner's list due to other even higher-scoring vehicles in their segment. The Premium Luxury SUV segment is a perfect example, as there are ten vehicles in that segment and nine of them scored 700 or higher. In fact, the Cadillac Escalade topped the Lexus GX by just four points."

The complete list of winners for the 2008 Motorist Choice Awards include:

SEGMENT Aspirational Luxury Car

Compact Car

Compact Pickup

Compact SUV/Crossover SUV

Economy Car

Image Compact Car

Large Heavy Duty Pickup

Large Light Duty Pickup

Large SUV

Large Crossover SUV

Large/Luxury Car

Luxury Mid-Size Car

Luxury Crossover SUV

Mid-Size Car

Mid-Size SUV

Mid-Size Crossover SUV

Minivan

Premium Luxury Crossover SUV

Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV

Premium Luxury Car

Premium Luxury SUV

Premium Mid-Size Car

Premium Mid-Size SUV

Premium Sports Car

Sports Car

Sporty Car

  WINNER

Lexus IS

Toyota Corolla

Honda Ridgeline

Nissan Rogue

Honda Fit

Volkswagen GTI

Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500

Chevrolet Avalanche

Toyota Sequoia

GMC Acadia

Cadillac DTS

Lexus ES

Lexus RX

Subaru Outback

HUMMER H3

Toyota RAV4

Toyota Sienna

BMW X5

Toyota Highlander

Lexus LS

Cadillac Escalade

Chevrolet Impala

Toyota 4Runner

Audi TT and Chevrolet Corvette (tie)

Saturn Sky

Ford Mustang

METHODOLOGY

The Motorist Choice Awards were calculated by combining IntelliChoice.com cost of ownership data with AutoPacific's customer satisfaction survey data.

AutoPacific surveys 45 different vehicle ownership attributes and, of these, 38 product-focused attributes are used. Each of the product attributes generates a score between 5 and 25, allowing a maximum possible score of 950, which is then normalized to 1000. The actual scores range from 490 to 785.

The remaining seven attributes focus on cost of ownership and are addressed by IntelliChoice.com. These attributes include Depreciation, Financing, Fuel, Insurance, Maintenance, Repairs, and State Fees. IntelliChoice.com rates vehicles based on a vehicle's total ownership cost against the vehicle's total expected cost.

To merge the IntelliChoice.com data with the AutoPacific rating system, IntelliChoice.com ranked each model within the 25 different segments. Through a conversion formula, the best model in the IntelliChoice.com analysis received the equivalent score as the best model in the AutoPacific analysis, and the worst model received the equivalent score as the worst model in the AutoPacific analysis. This conversion was done for each segment of vehicle.

The AutoPacific score was then combined with the converted IntelliChoice.com score. This was accomplished by creating a weighting for each segment based on the AutoPacific importance scores from the 45 attributes. The average importance score from the product attributes were weighted against the average importance score from the ownership cost attributes. The AutoPacific and IntelliChoice.com scores were combined through multiplying the AutoPacific Score by the product attributes weighting and the IntelliChoice.com score by the ownership cost attributes weighting, and then adding the two scores together.

About IntelliChoice.com

Part of PRIMEDIA's Enthusiast Media, IntelliChoice is the market leader in automotive ownership cost and value analysis. Founded in 1986, IntelliChoice is committed to empowering consumers to make better purchase decisions by providing independent and essential automotive information and tools. Through the IntelliChoice web site (http://www.intellichoice.com), consumers get the help they need to research, compare, configure and price vehicles. The site also connects buyers to the buying alternatives of their choice, including vehicle manufacturers and an online car buying guide.

About AutoPacific

AutoPacific is a future-oriented automotive marketing research and product-consulting firm. Every year AutoPacific publishes a wide variety of syndicated studies on the automotive industry. The firm also conducts extensive proprietary research and consulting for auto manufacturers, distributors, marketers and suppliers worldwide. Company headquarters and its state-of-the-art automotive research facility are in Tustin, California, with an affiliate office in the Detroit area. Additional information can be found on AutoPacific's websites: http://www.autopacific.com and http://blog.vehiclevoice.com.

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