In what is either the sign of the apocalypse or a corporate transformation, General Motors has landed for of its new models on the “Short List” for North American Car of the Year. But the irony is that for a maker long known for its ho-hum cars and more competitive truck models, there’s nary a single GM CUV, SUV or pickup on the Truck of the Year list.
There are a variety of surprises among the choices for this year’s North American Car and Truck of the Year, with Korean carmakers Kia and Hyundai landing three of their offerings making the first cut – the winners set to be announced next January during the opening session of the 2016 North American International Auto Show.
Known more commonly as NACTOY, the two awards, one for best car, the other for best truck or utility vehicle, are determined by votes from 57 North American automotive journalists representing a wide array of outlets, from enthusiast and insider publications to social media.
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General Motors’ dominance on the North American Car of the Year Short List should come as a commendation in and of itself. For years, critics routinely lambasted GM’s passenger car line-up, while consumers turned to domestic and import competitors in critical segments such as midsize sedans. GM hopes to tackle the likes of the powerful Toyota Camry with the all-new Chevrolet Camaro that made the cut with NACTOY jurors.
The maker also will go up against the all-new Toyota Prius – one of two picks from the Japanese maker’s portfolio – with the second-generation Chevy Volt. Chevrolet also has its latest remake of the Camaro pony car on the Short List, while Cadillac rounds out the GM picks with its new flagship Cadllac CT6 sedan.
Showing how much the industry has changed. While Toyota only has one passenger car model on the Short List, it landed with two truck/utility models: the 2016 Tacoma pickup and the newly redesigned Lexus RX crossover.
Honda, with three semi-finalists, also is heavy on the truck/utility side. There’s the HR-V and Pilot crossovers, as well as the remake of its long-popular Civic line.
Korean carmakers, long the butt of jokes, have counted on NACTOY to help reshape their image among U.S. consumers, Hyundai twice winning honors as the North American Car of the Year, starting with the original Genesis sedan. The bigger of the two brands, Hyundai’s Tucson is up for truck honors. But smaller Korean brand Kia landed its redesigned Optima on the car side of the ledger, and the redone Sorrento in the truck category.
The NACTOY rules ask jurors to cull the original list of nearly 50 vehicles down to around 10 car and 10 truck/utility models – allowing the Short List to expand slightly for some late arrivals to the market.
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Mazda and Nissan were the only other makers to have at least two models survive the first cut: Nissan with its redesigns of the Maxima sports sedan and the Titan pickup, Mazda with its MX-5 Miata roadster and CX-3 crossover.
Meanwhile, though its first-ever SUV hasn’t officially made its debut, jurors were impressed enough with initial details to let the new Tesla Model X slide into the truck-side Short List.
The 57 NACTOY jurors will go to Hell – Michigan – that is – next month for more test drives and a chance to compare all 22 of the semi-finalists. They’ll pare things back to three finalists in each category before year-end, the winners set to be announced at the Detroit Auto Show on January 11, 2015.
Here are the Short List nominees:
North American Car of the Year Short List:
- BMW 7 Series
- Cadillac CT6
- Chevrolet Camaro
- Chevrolet Malibu
- Chevrolet Volt
- Honda Civic
- Kia Optima
- Mazda MX-5 Miata
- Nissan Maxima
- Toyota Prius
North American Truck/Utility of the Year Short List