If you ask automakers, the title of North American Car of the Year (or Truck, or SUV) is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious awards they could hope for. Once again, the NACTOY Awards as they’re known (for North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year) is preparing to name three winners next January - although this time it won’t be at the Detroit Auto Show, as was the case until the winter of 2019.
First things first, however: this week, the 50-member jury published its list of 27 semi-finalists for the 2021 year. In December, the list will be reduced to only nine vehicles (three per category) a few weeks before the annual awards ceremony.
Let's take a closer look at the semi-finalists in contention. In the car category, we find:
Within this group, only the Polestar 2 uses electrical power to move around. Also, because you have to count that model as a luxury car, that puts on the list no fewer than five luxury model. Will the NACTOY members vote high-end in 2021?
In the SUV category, the list is much longer:
Chevrolet Tahoe / Suburban
Ford Bronco Sport
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Hyundai Santa Fe
Land Rover Defender
Toyota RAV4 Prime
Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge
Here, electrification is far better represented with the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Toyota RAV4 Prime and Toyota Venza, not to mention the Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge.
At the other end of the spectrum, GM's two mastodons (Cadillac Escalade and Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban) could cause a surprise. We'll have to wait for the judges' choice.
As for the truck category semi-finalists, these include:
In this case, it would be surprising if the even-more-crazily-equipped variant of the Gladiator somehow hauls itself to the highest step on the podium. Logically, the fight in this category should be between the two Fords and the Ram 1500 TRX.
We'll know more by December.