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NACTOY names 2021 Vehicle of the Year finalists


Coveted NACTOY Trophy awaits 2021 Car, Truck and Utility of the Year winners

NACTOY jury voting for the 2021 North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year Finalists is in and has been tallied and audited by Deloitte in Detroit. 

Long a staple just prior to the start of the Detroit Auto Show which has moved to warmer months – the iconic NACTOY continues as the first major vehicle award bestowed each year. Though challenged by the pandemic, the NACTOY team gathered a stellar list of competitors, testing and evaluating them over the year to get to these nine finalists.

The selection of nine finalists is the second-to-last step in that year-long evaluation process for the three awards before jurors vote and announce winners in January.

Here are this year’s finalists listed in alphabetical order within each category:


Car of the Year:
Genesis G80
Hyundai Elantra
Nissan Sentra


IWT Choice: All good ones in this category.  But we like the Genesis G80 for Car of the Year. For a new brand – an outstanding package in design and performance


Truck of the Year:
Ford F-150
Jeep Gladiator Mojave
Ram 1500 TRX

IWT Choice:  The 2021 F-150 is loaded with new and better goodies and there are lost of trim levels to choose from.  Jeep Gladiator Mojave is seriously set up to do the off-road stuff you expect from a Jeep – with a cargo bed to boot.

But, we like the Ram 1500 TRX for Truck of the Year.  They hit a home run here.  You want luxury – it has it.  Technology – more function and convenience tech than you can imagine.  Off-Road – where to do you want to go?  We will take the short cut over the mountain and beat you there.  Road manners that would surprise you – around town, on the highway and up that mountain over yonder. All that before mentioning the 702 horsepower.


Utility Vehicle of the Year:
Ford Mustang Mach E
Genesis GV80
Land Rover Defender

IWT Choice: We question that Mach E is really a Utility Vehicle. Having said that, it has had lots of very good press this year.  The new Genesis has gotten high marks from many of our colleagues.  Without a doubt, we like the Land Rover Defender for Utility Vehicle of the Year.


“In this very challenging year, these nine vehicles emerged as our Finalists out of an unusually strong field of 27 Semifinalists,” said NACTOY president Gary Witzenburg. “Each one of them – especially the 15 in the ultra-competitive utility vehicle category – is excellent in nearly every way. Not to mention the automakers’ unusually difficult challenge of getting our 50 jurors from all over North America into their candidate vehicles for testing and evaluation prior to our later-than-usual voting deadline.”

The Process

The selection of NACTOY’s coveted Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year Awards begins with a list of all eligible new or substantially changed vehicles launched for each model year, which the jurors test and evaluate through three rounds of voting as they become available.

“Just as individual car buyers have their own purchase criteria, each of our 50 expert jurors has his or her own individual process for evaluating candidate vehicles,” said NACTOY Vice President Jack R. Nerad, “which results in a robust and comprehensive competition that looks at the contenders from every possible angle. We are proud of the vast experience and diversity of our panel of jurors.”

Founded in 1994, these awards are the longest-running new-vehicle awards not associated with a single publication, website, radio or television station. They are judged by professional automotive journalists from the United States and Canada who work for and contribute to a wide variety of magazines, newspapers, websites, television and radio stations. Because of the jurors’ independence, these awards are among the most respected in the industry. As always, NACTOY’s jury strives to honor excellence in automotive innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value.

Final Selection and Winners

Final voting will take place Jan. 2-4, 2021, and the 2021 NACTOY Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year winners will be announced on January 11.

Who are the Jurors?

Some of you have asked me in years past – “just who are these jurors?”.  Simply they are some of the best, most respected and widely circulated automotive media in North America.  You will know many of them by their bylines.

Go HERE for a list with photos and bylines of those judging this year.

For more information about NACTOY and its history: http://northamericancaroftheyear.org.

SOURCE:  North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year Awards

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