It’s awards season. Next Thursday, nine finalists for the most widely distributed, variously judged and – I believe – most influential auto awards in North America, the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year , will be announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
I am one of the 50 jurors of NACTOY, as the awards are called. We cover the automotive industry and review vehicles and technologies for a wide range of outlets in the United States and Canada. You can see and hear our work in a wide range of places, from newspapers, magazines and websites to podcasts, streaming videos, social media, radio and television.
Unfortunately – in my opinion – NACTOY does not yet have jurors based in Mexico. Indeed, while nearly every vehicle sold in the United States is also available in Canada, Mexico gets a number of vehicles – and some entire brands – that other countries don’t. This makes the markets very different. Journalists in the United States and Canada never get the chance to rate certain prominent vehicles sold in Mexico, and vice versa.
After:Electric and hybrid vehicles dominate the list of semi-finalists for North American vehicle honors
The assessment process is fun, fascinating and frustrating. For this year’s honors, I’ve been driving eligible vehicles since January 2022. I’ve spent days over the past month reconnecting with all 26 semi-finalists, including conversations with my fellow jurors and others whose I trust judgment and experience: Like? Why?”
26 semi-finalists, no losers
Despite all that siege time and research, I still hesitated and rethought my choices as I filled out my electronic ballot on Tuesday morning.
Very few bad vehicles are introduced these days.
Of course, I wonder, “What were they thinking? a few times a year, but even these poorly designed vehicles almost all provide safe and reliable transportation.
As the jury narrows the field for every new vehicle going on sale in 2022, there are no bad candidates. We choose between degrees of excellence.
Jurors consider a number of factors, including value, innovation, performance and design. These categories are intentionally broad, allowing jurors to bring their experience to the process.
NACTOY judgment is about more than lowest price, fastest 0-60 mph time, highest towing capacity, or largest battery.
The 2023 North American Vehicle of the Year semi-finalists are:
North American Car of the Year
- Acura Integra
- BMW i4 eDrive 40
- Genesis G80 EV
- Genesis G90
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class
- Mercedes-Benz EQE
- Nissan Z
- Subaru WRX
- Toyota Crown
- Toyota GR Corolla
North American Truck of the Year
- Chevrolet Silverado ZR2
- Ford F-150 Lightning
- Lordstown Stamina
North American Utility Vehicle of the Year
- Audi Q4 etron
- BMW iX xDrive 50
- Cadillac Lyriq
- Genesis GV60
- Honda CR-V
- Honda HR-V
- Kia EV6
- Kia Sportage
- Lexus RX
- Mazda CX-50
- Nissan Ariya
- Rivian R1S
- Volvo C40 Refill
What happens next?
Each juror has 25 points to distribute among the semi-finalists in each category. You cannot give any vehicle more than 10 points, and you can only give 10 points to a single vehicle.
Jurors can divide their points as they see fit. I like to maximize the impact of my votes, so I split them among my top three vehicles. Some jurors split their points widely, giving fewer points to each of a larger number of vehicles.
Once the finalists are announced, the jurors have time to continue their evaluation and research. I expect to drive each of the finalists again before my vote for a winner on January 6th. In this final ballot, each juror has 10 points which they can allocate as they wish, giving the 10 to a single vehicle or dividing them.
Winners will be announced Jan. 11 in Detroit.
Here’s how and why I voted for the NACTOY 2023 finalists:
My Picks for North American Car of the Year
First choice: Acura Integra
What is that? Sporty compact sedan with front-wheel drive. Prices start at $30,800. All prices exclude destination charges.
The sleek Integra is a welcome throwback to Acura’s early days, when its cars had style, names and a sporty character.
Second choice:Genesis G90
What is that? Large all-wheel-drive luxury sedan. Prices start at $88,400.
The 2023 G90 is stunning inside and out, the most refined and advanced sedan from Hyundai’s Genesis luxury brand to date.
Third choice: Subaru WRX
What is that? Performance compact sedan with all-wheel drive. Prices start at $29,605.
Building on the performance history of the WRX, the 2022 model, the 2023 model adds space and ride comfort. A stiffer chassis and sparkling steering complete the picture.
My Picks for North American Truck of the Year
First choice: Ford F-150 Lightning
What is that? Full-size electric pickup. Prices start at $39,7974.
The F-150 Lightning changed the way America thinks about electric vehicles, giving the technology the credibility of the nation’s best-selling vehicle.
Second choice: Chevrolet Silverado ZR2
What is that? Full-size crew-cab pickup truck with off-road equipment. Prices start at $67,500.
New shocks and springs increase wheel articulation to negotiate rough terrain. Other additions include electronic control for climbing, locking front and rear differentials and 33-inch all-terrain tires.
Third choice: Lordstown Stamina
What is that? Full-size electric crew cab pickup truck. Prices start at $63,365.
Available only to commercial customers, the lightweight Endurance is life proof of financially-struggling EV startup Lordstown Motors. Power comes from electric motors located in the wheel hubs, an innovation that has stymied other automakers.
My Picks for North American Utility Vehicle of the Year
First choice: Cadillac Lyriq
What is that? Luxury mid-size electric SUV with rear or all-wheel drive. Base price: $61,795.
The Lyriq’s styling, interior design and advanced features make Cadillac’s first electric vehicle a guardian and bode well for GM’s Ultium ecosystem of EV batteries, motors and controls.
Second choice: Kia EV6
What is that? Sporty mid-size electric SUV with rear or all-wheel drive Base price: $41,400.
The EV6’s dramatic looks and advanced 800-volt charging system made it one of the most popular electric vehicles of the year. The 576-hp EV6 GT promises to broaden its appeal.
Third choice: Kia Sportage
What is that? Compact SUV with front or all-wheel drive. Base price: $25,990.
The sleek Sportage offers hybrid and plug-in hybrid models as well as useful infotainment and driver assistance features.
Contact Mark Phelan:email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Learn more about automobiles and sign up for our automobiles newsletter. Become a subscriber.
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