Los Angeles: The influential US car magazine Motor Trend has selected the Chrysler PT Cruiser as 2001 Car of the Year in its latest January 2001 issue. Now, in its 52nd year, the magazine's annual award is widely regarded as the most coveted by the auto industry.

Motor Trend's entire editorial staff conducted tests on 21 all-new vehicles from the USA, Japan, Germany, Sweden and Korea for this year's competition. Thousands of miles of on-track and on-street driving, in a wide variety of weather and road conditions, were required to pass 10 tough tests.

Both domestic and import models were included in the competition, including the sporty Acura CL, the all-wheel-drive Audi Allroad wagon, the retro-themed Chrysler PT Cruiser, the redesigned Chrysler Sebring, the Chrysler Town and Country and the Chrysler Voyager minivan.

Other entries included the Dodge Stratus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, the Kia Rio (America's lowest priced car at $US8,895), Kia Spectra, Lexus IS 300, luxury Lexus LS 430, Mazda Millenia, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the high-performance CL500 luxury coupe, the economical Mexican-made Nissan Sentra, Oldsmobile Aurora, Toyota MR2 Spyder, new Volvo S60 and the V70/Cross Country wagon.

In identifying their most significant new car of the year, the editors evaluated factors such as design, engineering, quality, interior, special features, fun, everyday 'liveability', safety, performance and value.

"The PT Cruiser represents a huge step forward for a domestic manufacturer. It's the first American small car that delivers hot styling, outstanding versatility, solid quality and a bargain price tag. It's already sending the world's designers back to their drawing boards,'' commented C. Van Tune, Motor Trend's editor-in-chief.

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