At the beginning of each year, it's tradition for the North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year (NACTOY for short) to announce its awards in the Car, Truck and SUV of the Year categories.
Normally, the NACTOY awards are revealed in conjunction with the Detroit Auto Show, ironically absent from the landscape since 2019, the last time it was held in January. That show now occupies a June slot on the auto show calendar, but the pandemic has played havoc with that schedule.
NACTOY members haven't been held back, though. They tested all the new (or substantially improved) vehicles offered this year to determine the winners.
The NACTOY awards were first presented in 1994. The judging panel is made up of U.S. and Canadian automotive journalists representing all sectors of the industry, including print, television and the Internet.
In a first this year, each segment features an electric vehicle among the finalists, including the Rivian R1T, Lucid Air sedan, and Hyundai Ioniq 5. Unfortunately, those hoping for a march to the top of the podium by an EV will have to wait for another year.
That’s because for 2022, the Honda Civic beat out both the Lucid Air and the Volkswagen Golf to win the Car of the Year award. Meanwhile, the new Ford Maverick was named Pickup Truck of the Year, beating out its compact rival Hyundai Santa Cruz as well as the first all-electric truck to hit the market, Rivian's R1T model. In the SUV segment, the Ford Bronco was an unsurprising winner, this time ahead of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Genesis GV70.
Ford is clearly in the good graces of the NACTOY members these days. In 2021, the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV and F-150 pickup truck were crowned best SUV and best pickup, with the Hyundai Elantra winning Car of the Year. Two out of three ain’t bad, especially two years running…
In any event, while no electric vehicle won a title this year, having one among the finalists in each category is certainly a sign of the times in the automotive world.
For 2022, 38 vehicles were initially considered in the three segments. That number was reduced to 23 semi-finalists in September before the nine finalists - three in each category - were announced in November.
“2021 has been a highly significant year in automotive history," said NACTOY President Gary Witzenburg. "We have seen ground-breaking and appealing new electric vehicles from almost every brand along with the emergence of new vehicle segments and impressive redesigns of familiar models. Meanwhile, a number of all-new start-up manufacturers are proving they are capable of competing with established automakers even with their first product offerings. Today's winners represent our collective opinion of the best of what's available to customers right now, and we sincerely congratulate the automotive industry on a very impressive year.”