The 50 jurors* of the North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year (NACTOY ) awards—50 people who work for a variety of outlets, so these are manifold perspectives, not that of just one brand—have announced their list of finalists for the 2021 awards, which will be presented in Detroit on January 11. (Actually, they will be presented virtually, given the prevailing pandemic conditions. And while on that sad subject—the pandemic, not the presentation—it is worth noting that this year was a particularly challenging ones for the jurors and OEMs alike, as in (1) getting into a variety of vehicles and (2) launching vehicles.)
So here are the vehicles that have made the short list (in alphabetical order, lest someone read something into the order).
Car of the Year
Genesis G80: the still-young luxury brand brings tech and comfort to its middle-of-the-pack offering (i.e., there are the G70 and the G90 sedans, too)
Hyundai Elantra: they didn’t just launch one version with some trims, but a “regular” one, a hybrid and a performance variant, all at once
Nissan Sentra: compact cars have always had stand-out models, but this one is several dozen levels above of what you might expect
Truck of the Year
Ford F-150: given that the F-150 has been breaking sales records for decades, let’s face it—when they do a new one, they’re not going to risk the crown
Jeep Gladiator Mojave: that name as in the desert, and while other variants of the Gladiator eat rocks, this one can handle the runs across sandy terrain
Ram 1500 TRX: take a Ram 1500, stuff in a HEMI and add a suspension system that can take on conditions that other pickup trucks wouldn’t dare get close to
Utility Vehicle of the Year
Ford Mustang Mach-E: this is arguably the first real EV to come from the North American domestic automakers—there have been others, but this one has the stuff
Genesis GV80: yes, that nomenclature is similar to the car previously mentioned, but this time it is the crossover that John Legend and Chrissy Teigen appropriately introduced in a Super Bowl ad
Land Rover Defender: not only is this a venerable marque, not only does this vehicle have the wherewithal to handle demanding conditions, but it has a design that can’t help but make you smile
*FYI: I am a juror.