GM, Hyundai/Kia Take Lead as NACTOY Narrows List of Year’s Best

Annual awards add third category for utility vehicles.

by on Sep.27, 2016

The new Genesis G90 is one of four semifinalists from Hyundai and Korean sibling Kia.

It’s been a busy year for the auto industry, with scores of new cars, trucks and utility vehicles making their debut. And that’s kept the 60 jurors from the North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year equally busy.

Of the 44 eligible 2017 models, they’ve taken a first cut, narrowing the field down to 29 semifinalists that, for the first time, fall into three separate categories. For the coming model-year, the NACTOY jurors will be selecting winners in three separate categories: Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle.

Award Winner!

The initial cut includes a wide variety of Asian, American and European brands, but two manufacturers stand out, General Motors leading the list with a total of seven nominees, the Hyundai/Kia Motor Group close behind with four separate semifinalists.

The Korean carmaker’s selection includes the G90, the new premium-luxury model from the old new Genesis brand. Also on the list: the Hyundai Elantra and Kia Cadenza in the passenger car category, and the Kia Sportage in the new SUV category.

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Among the notable picks from General Motors, the Chevrolet Bolt will be the first mainstream, long-range electric vehicle, delivering over 200 miles on a charge for a base price of barely $30,000 after factoring in the $7,500 federal tax credit.

The Chevrolet Bolt is one of 7 GM semifinalists.

GM’s other semifinalists include the Buick LaCrosse, the Cadillac CT6, and the Chevrolet Cruze in the passenger car category; and the Buick Envision, Cadillac XT5 and GMC Acadia among utility vehicles.

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Other brands that made the first cut are Acura, Audi Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Jaguar, Infiniti, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan Porsche, Toyota and Volvo.

Those 29 models that made it through the first round of voting will take a trip to Hell — Hell, Michigan, to be more precise, where NACTOY jurors will get a chance to compare the 2017 offerings before voting in nine finalists, three for each category.

The winners will take a bow during the opening ceremonies at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next January.

The 2016 winners were the Honda Civic, named North American Car of the Year, while the Volvo XC90 was chosen top truck.

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Jaguar's first SUV, the F-Pace is a semifinalist in NACTOY's new Utility Vehicle category.

The addition of the utility vehicle category reflects a major shift that has reshaped the auto industry in recent years. Add up utility vehicles, pickups, vans and other light trucks and they’re currently generating about 60% of U.S. automotive sales.

As for the NACTOY jury, it’s made up of 60 automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada. That includes this reporter.

Here’s the complete list of NACTOY semi-finalists:


  • Acura NSX
  • Audi A4
  • Buick LaCrosse
  • Cadillac CT6
  • Chevrolet Cruze
  • Chevrolet Bolt
  • Genesis G90
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Jaguar XE
  • Kia Cadenza
  • Lincoln Continental
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan
  • Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman
  • Toyota Prius Prime
  • Volvo S90

Utility vehicles

  • Audi Q7
  • Buick Envision
  • Cadillac XT5
  • Chrysler Pacifica
  • GMC Acadia
  • Infiniti QX30
  • Kia Sportage
  • Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
  • Jaguar F-Pace
  • Mazda CX-9
  • Nissan Armada


  • Ford F-series Super Duty pickup
  • Ford F-150 Raptor
  • Honda Ridgeline
  • Nissan Titan half-ton

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