We now know the nine models still in contention for the NACTOY organization’s 2020 North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year awards
The list of finalists for the NACTOY organization’s 2020 North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year awards was announced as per the usual custom at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show. The panel of automotive journalists started the selection process last June before reducing the number of vehicles still under consideration to 29. Now the list of nine finalists – three per category – has been divulged.
Last year’s big winners in the three categories were the Genesis G70, Hyundai Kona and Ram 1500. Notable this year is that absolutely none of the finalists for the 2020 awards come in any electrified form, unlike the Kona (available in EV form) and the Ram 1500 (with its eTorque light-hybrid system) in 2019.
Here then are the three finalists still in the running in each of the categories. Note that the winners will be announced, as usual, in Detroit in January, this even though that city’s car show has now moved to the month of June.
2020 North American Car of the Year
The title of North American Car of the Year will be a fierce struggle between two celebrated sports models and a totally renewed midsize sedan.
The new Chevrolet Corvette has made a ton of noise in recent years what with Chevy designing a new version that moves the powertrain to the centre of the car. The performance capabilities of the new edition are up, as is the overall quality (we hope!), while pricing has been maintained at a very reasonable level. Production of the new Corvette has been delayed, however, in part due to the recent strike action at GM.
The other sports car that has survived to this final round is one that’s making its return to the scene after an absence of over two decades. The Toyota GR Supra has generated its own heap of ink in the past few months, not only because it was developed in collaboration with BMW, but also because of the absence (for now) of a manual-transmission option. Much of the ink spilled has been positive, however, since the Supra is still in the running in this the final stretch of the NACTOY run.
Finally, the Hyundai Sonata managed to wind its way through to this round, even as others like the new BMW 3 Series or even the new Porsche 911 fell by the wayside. It appears the bold new design of the newest Sonata helped convince the judges – not to mention the quality of execution and the wide range of technologies found within.
2020 North American Utility of the Year
Here the battle pits two Korean cousins and the first electrified SUV from American luxury automaker Lincoln against one another.
The arrival of the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade, two three-row SUVs built on the same platform and similarly equipped, has borne fruit for the Korean conglomerate that controls both carmakers; big families in North American have evidently welcomed them with open arms. The SUVs are well-conceived, well-built and pleasant to drive, without either being particularly revolutionary in the category. We expect that if either of these new models wins this award, a sales bump will follow – for both of them.
Pitted against that fearsome twosome for North American Utility of the Year is the new Lincoln Aviator, which marks the return of the nameplate to the market. Available in regular or plug-in hybrid configuration, the luxury brand’s new three-row people-mover aims to please partly through its performances, which go through a RWD platform. In other words, a big selling point for the Aviator is its on-road behaviour. But will that be enough to finish ahead of the Korean duo? Will those models split their vote? Stay tuned.
2020 North American Truck of the Year
Surprise surprise, all three finalists in the North American Truck of the Year category are true-blue American. What we also get this year is final confirmation of the return to relevance of midsize pickup trucks.
Abandoned back in 2011, the Ford Ranger is back in the Dearborn-based automaker’ lineup, where it sits below the F-Series of trucks. The platform is a reworked version of the one used in the global-market Ranger, while the powertrain consists of a 2.3L 4-cylinder EcoBoost turbo engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission. Will Ford get to the finish line ahead of its two FCA rivals for this award?
The new Jeep Gladiator, launched with much fanfare earlier this year, wants people to go outside and play. It inherits the esthetics of the Jeep Wrangler, which is a big plus for it, as are the fact you can remover the roof, doors and windshield if you so desire. Another factor to keep in mind is the price point of the Gladiator. Will that affect the panel’s decision-making?
The trio of finalists is rounded out by the new-generation HD truck from Ram. The new model got a mild styling revision both outside and in, but the product offering has been upgraded under the hood as well. One of the Cummins turbodiesel engines on offer delivers maximum torque of 1,000 lb!
Now we wait until January 13, 2020, when the jury consisting of North American automotive journalists announces the big winners.