SAMA taps top vehicles during Miami International Auto Show

Pictured are the auto manufacturers’ representatives who accepted the 2012 SAMA awards during the Miami International Auto Show. They are (l-r) Alvaro Cabal, Ford Motor Co. Multicultural Communications manager; Mike Gray, South East Toyota Regional Area Sales Manager; Fred Diaz, Ram president and CEO, and Derek Joyce, Hyundai Motor America manager of product public relations.

The Scion FS-R, Hyundai Santa Fe and Ford Fusion Hybrid were named the top vehicles on display during the 42nd annual Miami International Auto Show (MIAS) by the Southern Automotive Media Association (SAMA).

The nine-member SAMA judging panel awarded the sporty Scion FS-R the sixth annual “Star of the Show” trophy after deciding that it was the single vehicle on display at the show that South Floridians will most want to see.

At the same time, the judges picked the Hyundai Santa Fe as the “Best Utility Vehicle” in the show because its all-new design, technological innovation and fuel efficiency, while the Ford Fusion Hybrid was tapped as “Best Green Technology Vehicle” for its outstanding design and superb fuel economy of 47 mpg.

Camp Jeep was awarded the new “Best Interactive Display” trophy for its ability to allow consumers attending the auto show to experience a Jeep vehicle’s off-road capabilities.

“We considered about a dozen vehicles for the Star of the Show award,” said Ron Beasley, SAMA judging committee chair. “That list included the Lincoln MKZ, the Cadillac ATS, BMW3 Series, Honda Accord and the Audi All Road. But, in the end, the judges felt that the new Scion FS-R was just the most exciting vehicle on the floor.”

The all-new Hyundai Santa Fe earned the judges’ vote as the “Best Utility Vehicle” in the MIAS. The judges said they liked the fuel-efficient character of the Santa Fe and the fact that it incorporated so much of the latest automotive industry technology. The Santa Fe bested the Mercedes Benz GL, Buick Encore, Lincoln MKT and the Ford Explorer to win the SAMA trophy. In the Green Technology category, Beasley said the judges considered 10 vehicles, including the Kia Optima Hybrid, Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, before deciding to award the trophy to the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Both the Volt and the Leaf previously won the award.

“Ford clearly has a pace-setting automobile with the Ford Fusion Hybrid,” Beasley said. “At 47 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway, it’s the most fuel-efficient sedan in America and our judging panel thought it was worthy of receiving the designation as ‘Best Green Technology Vehicle’ in the Miami International Auto Show.”

This is the sixth consecutive year that SAMA has given the awards at the MIAS, which marks its 42nd anniversary this year. A prestigious panel of SAMA members walked the floor of the show and reviewed the vehicles prior to the opening and determined which vehicles would receive the coveted SAMA awards.

The 2012 panel of judges included SAMA founding president and automotive editor for Miami’s Community Newspapers Ron Beasley; Automundo webmaster and SAMA founding member Jose “Pepe” Delfino; auto writer and SAMA founding member Paul Borden; auto writer/photographer and SAMA founding member Angelica Willard; nationally known automotive radio personality Joe Castello; veteran automotive writer and track announcer Ric Green; bilingual automotive journalist Juan Robbin; auto writer and sports car racer Dr. Ray Mummery, and FAMA Magazine publisher Al Vazquez.

The awards were announced and presented during the annual auto show luncheon sponsored by Hyundai and hosted by SAMA for members of the auto industry on the opening day of the MIAS.

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