Even before the first official debut of the annual North American International Auto Show, Honda and Volvo had plenty of reason to celebrate. The two makers took top honors in a highly competitive field of finalists for the North American Car and Truck of the Year.
This year, top honors went to the 2016 Honda Civic, the North American Car of the Year, with the new 2016 Volvo XC90 taking honors as the North American Truck/Utility of the Year.
Now marking their 24th year, the NACTOY awards are considered among the most prestigious and influential in the country, reflecting the diverse opinions of 54 U.S. and Canadian journalists who spent months comparing and contrasting close to 100 of the newest cars, trucks and crossover vehicles.
A win was especially sweet for Honda which saw the Civic also win back in 2006. And considering how much better the competition has gotten, John Mendel, the maker’s top American executive, said, “There aren’t any bad cars anymore.”
The new Civic sedan has won rave reviews since making its surprise debut at the New York Auto Show last April. The four-door, noted Mendel, is the first in a variety of variants planned for the Civic line, the coupe version next up. There will also be a new, sporty package not seen in the U.S. market before.
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“The work has already begun on the next one,” said the veteran Honda executive, adding that landing the North American Car of the Year trophy actually means, “a little more pressure for the team.”
As for Volvo, the North American Truck/Utility trophy win was equally sweet. The Swedish automaker is just beginning to rebuild momentum after years of declining demand, sales last year rebounding to a global record.
Volvo has laid out an aggressive, albeit controversial strategy focusing on switching entirely to four-cylinder engines. In fact, its highest-performance version of the XC90 is a plug-in hybrid. The crossover-utility vehicle, meanwhile, features an array of new, high-tech features.
“With the XC90 we showed that with this new platform and very environmentally friendly engines there is a future for Volvo,” said Lex Kerssemakers, the head of the Chinese-owned company’s U.S. sales subsidiary.
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The new platform, in fact, will serve as the underpinnings of the even newer Volvo S90, the maker’s flagship sedan – which claims to be set to become the first car offering semi-autonomous driving capabilities as a standard feature.
A win in the NACTOY balloting has routinely been highlighted in advertising, and Kerssemakers said Volvo will be bragging about the XC90 victory in any way possible.”
The Honda Civic was up against the Chevrolet Malibu and the Mazda MX-5 Miata. For North American Truck of the Year, the Volvo XC90 faced off with the Honda Pilot and the Nissan Titan XD – marking one of the rare years with not a single Detroit truck or utility vehicle among the three finalists.
First launched in 1993, the North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year awards have gone to a variety of makers from around the world. Last year, the new Volkswagen Golf won on the car side, the Ford F-150 taking truck honors.
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Domestics have topped the car chart 12 times, Japanese brands taking four awards with the Civic win. Europeans won five times and Koreans twice. On the truck side, Detroit’s Big Three claimed 15 victories, foreign brands eight times.
One response to “Honda Civic, Volvo XC90 Land North America Car, Truck/Utility of the Year”
Trucks and SUV’s need separate classes. Trucks are “body on frame” and SUV’s are unibody. Two completely different types of construction, ride and handling not to mention load and tow capacities. They are not the same vehicle.