1996: Honda Civic
“What we have here is a fuel-sipping, low-emissions vehicle that looks like a real car, drives like a real car, and costs about $14,000. Who needs futuristic atomic toasters when you can drive a Civic?
“The Civic proves that the best way to entice people into cleaner, greener transportation is to simply build a better car. The Civic sedan is practical and space efficient, yet dramatically quieter and more refined than ever, the world’s best small car for real life. The Civic coupe makes a strong statement of style, handles like an Acura Integra, and also comes in a CVT-equipped model that makes excellent fuel economy a painless experience. The Civic hatchback delivers squeaky-clean air emissions, but it is not a $100,000 atomic toaster. In short, the Honda Civic can be everything the car of the future is supposed to be and a real car besides.
“We’ve heard a lot of big talk about the coming automotive millennium, but Honda has cut to the chase. The Honda Civic is here today, four years before the beginning of a new century, and it is affordable, practical, and ethical. Even better, it is a delight to the spirit. The Civic is our Automobile of the Year because it underscores Honda’s ability not only to sell cars but also to invent them.”