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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — MotorWeek, an auto news magazine show on Maryland Public Television, unveiled its 2010 Drivers' Choice Awards and the choice for Best of the Year has been in the news recently for other reasons.

Producers of the long-running TV show announced the top honor went to the Toyota Prius because they stressed the vehicle made improvements on virtually every front including, fuel efficiency, power and versatility.

MotorWeek also tapped the Prius as the Best Eco-Friendly.

"The Prius winning the prestigious MotorWeek Drivers' Choice Best of the Year and Best Eco-Friendly awards is truly an honor that reflects how far hybrid technology in the U.S. has come in one short decade," explained Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager.

"Since it was introduced in 2000, the Prius has been an icon for positive change. Now, with over 800,000 currently on American roads, Prius has helped change the way people think about transportation, the roles cars play in the environment, and what people could expect from their cars in the future," Carter continued.

MotorWeek host and executive producer John Davis shared why the Prius took this award.

"If you can only buy one car for your family, the 2010 Prius is the one," Davis emphasized.

"The Prius is a no-compromise vehicle that offers impressive efficiency, cutting edge technology, smart packaging and truly iconic styling," he added

The rest of the MotorWeek honorees came from a mix of domestic and foreign automakers.

The Ford Taurus took the award as Best Family Sedan. Producers praised this version of the Taurus as a "stellar effort that speaks volumes about where Ford is headed."

Meanwhile, General Motors had three vehicles receive honors. Because of what MotorWeek noted as the best in class fuel economy, including hybrids, the Chevrolet Equinox captured the title as Best Small Utility. Meanwhile producers went with the Buick LaCrosse as Best Luxury Sedan "for delivering stunning good looks and quality inside and out."

Davis added that "these two vehicles have moved the benchmark for affordable vehicles in their class quite a few notches higher."

The other GM vehicle that took an award was the Chevrolet Camaro, which earned MotorWeek's attention as Best Sport Coupe.

In related segments, the honor for Best Small Car went to the Mazda3 for having the "soul of a sports car," while the new Nissan 370Z Roadster took the title as MotorWeek's Best Convertible.

Producers pointed out that German automakers dominated the high performance segments. Audi received two nods from MotorWeek — the S4 was named Best Performance Car and the R8 5.2 FSI shared the Best Dream Machine honor with The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The BMW 3-Series won Best Sport Sedan.

Furthermore, two 2009 winners held on to their titles. For the second year in a row, the Ram 1500/2500/3500 was selected as Best Pickup and the Honda Pilot won for Best Large Utility.

MotorWeek producers explained that they test drive more than 150 vehicles each year. Drivers' Choice Award winners are chosen following a comprehensive evaluation of factors — performance, technology, practicality and value.

"Emerging from what was a difficult year, this year's winners represent new benchmarks being set by the auto industry for engineering, design and fuel efficiency," Davis noted.

"Emerging from what was a difficult year, this year's winners represent new benchmarks being set by the auto industry for engineering, design and fuel efficiency," he concluded.