Nothing lasts forever I’m told, so my Zoomie Car of the Year awards appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for 25 years, then got kicked to the curb. I wrapped up my Zoomies on the Savageonwheels.com website and on WUWM in 2015, and that was that.
But now that my auto review column appears weekly on WUWM’s website, and the annual Milwaukee Auto Show is rolling back around from now until March 1, it seemed a good moment to bring back Zoomie.
For the criminally curious, here’s how Zoomie came to be.
My Zoomie Car of the Year was launched in 1990 as a response to what I thought a travesty. Noted car mag Motor Trend had just dubbed the bulbous whale-like Chevrolet Caprice, that of big city taxi fame, as its Car of the Year.
This was the same year that Mazda had launched its soon to be iconic Miata roadster, the first, the best, and the most affordable sports car ever. I had to right a wrong!
Thus, my first Zoomie (named after my brother Steve’s pet iguana) went to the Miata, instantly setting the automotive world right – even if said world was fully unaware.
NOW … 30 years later I’ve driven roughly 1,500 cars and trucks and use that as my basis for selections. Yet I only compare the vehicles I’ve driven in the past year to keep things current and really to compare new vehicles to other new vehicles, not previous year’s bests.
My intent, as always, is to select a vehicle for the masses, but one with styling flair, something that’s fun, yet also delivers value.
So you won’t see a Ferrari, Bugatti or Lamborghini here (uh, they’ve never even invited me to drive one, EVER). And while I prefer cars, I’ve come to recognize that crossovers are the meat of the market and are what MOST folks now prefer.
If you want to check my track record, here are my past choices.
Here are my Car of the Year Awards for the first 26 years of the Savage On Wheels column.
Art: Stuart Carlson
Here are the past Zoomie winners:
2015: Kia Soul+ (Cute crossover, lively handling, high value, stellar interior)
2014: Mazda3 (light, swoopy hatchback with power, fun handling and fuel efficiency)
2013: Dodge Dart (sassy smart looking small car, full of youthful features, value)
2012: Chevrolet Volt (good looking, well built and cutting edge technology)
2011: Ford Mustang (in any trim a beautiful, fast, fun car with excellent ride and handling)
2010: Suzuki Kizashi SLS (modest price, good looks/handling, loaded with goodies)
2009: Volvo C30 (sassy, economical, fun with fresh styling)
2008: Nissan Altima Coupe (awesome looks, good value, fun drive with power)
2007: Mazda5 (stylish blend of sportwagon-van, low price, practical)
2006: Ford Fusion (good looks, good value, improved fit and finish)
2005: Scion tC (good handling, great power, youthful interior, good looks, low cost)
2004: Acura TSX (sporty looks, super acceleration/handling, good mpg, moderate cost)
2003: BMW Mini Cooper (square but hip looks, excellent handling, fun for the bucks)
2002: Hyundai Elantra GT (sporty, fun, quick, and a good-looking, useful hatchback)
2001: Chrysler PT Cruiser (fun, versatile, economical and a styling knockout)
2000: Ford Focus (stylish, substantial small car with excellent handling, peppy acceleration, modest price.)
1999: Volkswagen Beetle (super styling, fun drive, solid car)
1998: Chevrolet Malibu (affordable family car with style)
1997: Ford Escort/Mercury Tracer (econocar with more flair than most)
1996: Chevrolet Cavalier/Pontiac Sunfire (economical, sporty looking coupes)
1995: Chrysler Cirrus (styling flair and affordable family car)
1994: Chevrolet Camaro Z28 (good-looking muscle at blue-collar price)
1993: Dodge Intrepid (extraordinary style and interior space in a large family sedan)
1992: Eagle Summit, Plymouth Colt Vista, Mitsubishi Expo LRV (way ahead of their time, mini-minivans offered all-wheel drive, like sport-utes. Beat Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V by years.)
1991: Buick Park Avenue (handsome full-size luxury car at entry-level luxury price)
1990: Mazda Miata (re-invented the cute, affordable, fun-to-drive roadster)
Hey, they may not all be gems, but they all had something major going for them at the time, and a few are now icons, like the Miata, Mustang, Beetle and Mini Cooper. Even the Volt, which has now been discontinued, was leading the way with its gas/hybrid power system.
All had style, compared to many of their competitors at the time too, and you wouldn’t go broke buying any of these Zoomies!
For the 2020 Zoomies, watch this website, or go to: https://www.wuwm.com/post/mark-savages-top-vehicles-2020