Hyundai’s Winning Ways

Hyundai, with Bryan Herta Autosport, is going to be campaigning the new Hyundai Elantra N TCR race car in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series.

Hyundai entered the North American Touring Car racing scene in 2018, and since then it won three back-to-back TCR championships and the 2020 Manufacturers title.

And speaking of the 2021 Elantra and winning, that vehicle was named the 2021 North American Car of the Year, a non-trivial victory.

Hyundai 2021 Elantra. Won the North American Car of the Year (NACTOY) award; looking to win at tracks like Daytona. (Image: Hyundai)

To mark that big win, if you look closely you can see the NACTOY badge on the hood of the Elantra N TCR vehicle, shown here at the Daytona International Speedway, flanked by Bryan Herta Autosport drivers Michael Lewis and Taylor Hagler.

The first race of the IMPC series will be held on January 29 at Daytona.–gsv

NACTOY 2021 Winners Announced

The NACTOY jury presented its awards this morning:

  • Car of the Year: 2021 Hyundai Elantra
  • Truck of the Year: 2021 Ford F-150
  • Utility of the Year: 2021 Mustang Mach-E

Yes, Ford takes two Ed Welburn-designed trophies.

2021 Hyundai Elantra: Look only at the care taken on the exterior sheet metal. (Image: Hyundai)

And on the subject of two: this is the second time the Elantra has taken the NACTOY Car of the Year, with the first being in 2012.

Briefly: there are 50 jurors who work for a range of publications—physical and digital—and broadcast outlets. Vehicles selected were those which were available for sale during CY 2020.

The Mustang Mach-E: Ford gets electric right with this model. (Image: Ford)

Thoughts:

  • Elantra: The seventh generation of a sedan has gotten a lot more attention and investment—even as other OEMs are retreating from the segment. Hyundai didn’t stint. What’s more, the company has rolled out three versions—the everyday driver, a hybrid and a performance variant from the start.
  • F-150: The F-Series has been the best-selling pickup in the U.S. for 44 years running, so (1) the team that built this new one knows a whole lot about how to put together trucks and (2) they surely don’t want to be the ones who break that streak. Odds are more than good that this new F-150 will handily rack up the 45th year.
  • Mustang Mach-E: Not only does this vehicle make us rethink what a ‘Mustang’ is, but it also reminds us that the company that made the automobile accessible to everybody in 1908 is doing the same thing for electric vehicles in 2021. And what’s more, it is a damn good execution.–gsv
2021 F-150: Clearly unstoppable. (Image: Ford)

Freep’s Phelan’s Picks

Detroit Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan happens to spend more time driving cars than any dozen people you know—a dozen pre-COVID drivers. Somehow, the pandemic hasn’t inhibited Phelan’s seat time.

Each year Phelan picks what he considers to be the best vehicles introduced during the past year.

2021 Cadillac Escalade (Photo by Steve Fecht for Cadillac)

And his list has been revealed:

Cadillac Escalade: Utility of the Year

Ford F-150: Truck of the Year

Hyundai Elantra: Car of the Year

As for place and show?

For utes:

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Ford Bronco Sport

For trucks:

Ram TRX

Jeep Gladiator Mojave

For cars:

Nissan Sentra

Genesis G80

Realize that these are vehicles that have been introduced during the past year, so it isn’t a rating of the best companies.

That said, it can’t be overlooked that Ford has not only a first-place win, but a full third of the list.

Hyundai Motor Group—which has Genesis under its awning—has a win and two vehicles on the list.

And FCA—soon to be Stellantis—missed first place, but had two on the list.

ooo

How competitive the industry is can be determined by taking a look at the list of the semifinalists that were announced by the jury of the North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year. (Full disclosure: Mark Phelan and I are both jurors.)

Cars:

Acura TLX

Cadillac CT4/CT4-V\Genesis G80

Hyundai Elantra family (includes N Line and HEV)

Kia K5

Mercedes-Benz E Class Sedan, All-Terrain, Coupe, Cabriolet

Nissan Sentra

Polestar 2

Utilities:

Cadillac Escalade

Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban

Chevrolet Trailblazer

Ford Bronco Sport

Ford Mustang Mach E

Genesis GV80

Hyundai Santa Fe

Kia Seltos

Kia Sorento

Land Rover Defender

Mazda CX-30

Nissan Rogue

Toyota RAV4 Prime

Toyota Venza

Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge

Truck:

Ford Super Duty

Ford F-150

Ram 1500 TRX

Jeep Gladiator Mojave

The category finalists that NACTOY picked are not unlike Phelan’s, with a couple of exceptions:

Car:

Genesis G80

Hyundai Elantra

Nissan Sentra

Truck:

Ford F-150

Jeep Gladiator Mojave

Ram 1500 TRX

Utility:

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Genesis GV80

Land Rover Defender

The results of that will be announced on January 11, 2021.

Here’s one thing that can be said about all of those vehicles:

Tough crowd.

2021 NACTOY Finalists Announced: The Top 9 Vehicles Introduced This Year

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.