Three all-electric vehicles — including two from new startups — landed spots on the finalist list for the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle awards.
A total of nine models were selected, three in each category, with the finalists revealed during the opening news conference at this year’s LA Auto Show. Winners will be announced during a multimedia event in January.
Four of the finalists are American-based, though that includes nascent EV makers Lucid and Rivian, as well as Ford. South Korean carmakers nabbed three spots, with only one Japanese and one European model on the list.
Now in their 28th year, the NACTOY awards are considered some of the industry’s most prestigious, They’re determined by a panel of 50 U.S. and Canadian journalists — a list that includes myself.
Jurors start out testing every new vehicle coming to market each year, as well as those undergoing significant updates. This year, they narrowed the list down to 23 potential winners in a first-cut vote. That has now been reduced to nine.
North American Car of the Year Finalists
- The Honda Civic, an all-new, 11th generation version of the long-popular compact sedan. As is the norm, Honda is sequentially rolling out a number of Civic variants, from the base sedan to the track-ready Type-R;
- The Lucid Air, a first-time product from the California-based EV startup. The initial models, the Air Dream Range and Performance editions, offer up to 520 miles of range and 1,133 horsepower. They start at more than $160,000, but lower-cost versions will follow;
- The Volkswagen Golf has gotten a complete makeover but, reflecting market realities, VW is importing only two versions of the next-gen model, the sporty GTI and the even more nimble and powerful Golf R.
North American Truck of the Year Finalists
- The Ford Maverick, a compact pickup truck helping to revive a long-abandoned market segment. It is aimed at DIY-minded buyers, as well as those needing affordable, yet flexible, transportation and, in an unusual move, its base model is a high-mileage hybrid;
- The Kia Santa Cruz also takes aim at the newly rebounding compact pickup segment. It features a more aggressive and non-traditional design than Maverick and is offered in several different configurations targeting young urbanites;
- The Rivian R1T is the work of another EV newbie and targets a segment that could see a flood of all-electric pickups reach market by mid-decade. It adopts classic pickup dimensions — with distinctive EV details — and offers plenty of cargo and towing capacity, in combination, of more than 11,000 pounds.
North American Utility Vehicle of the Year Finalists
- The Ford Bronco which brings back a once wildly popular nameplate. It shouldn’t be confused with the Bronco Sport model that launched a year earlier. It is bigger and even more rugged, with features like a removable roof and extensive off-road capabilities;
- The Genesis GV70 is the second SUV for the luxury brand spun off by Korea’s Hyundai. The compact crossover shares the same basic underpinnings as the G70 sedan, providing it with dynamic road manners;
- The Kia EV6 ushers in a new push to electrify the Korean brand. The midsize SUV is the first in what will become an extended family of BEVs for Kia and it features not only up to 300 miles in range but also near-sports-car levels of performance.