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)

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.