Korean automaking giant Hyundai Kia placed a whopping seven vehicles among the semifinalists competing for 2021 North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year titles, nearly double the total for the next two automakers.
Ford and General Motors each scored four spots among the 27 semifinalists for the auto industry’s most hotly competitive awards. No other automaker scored more than two spots on the list. Fiat Chrysler, smallest member of the Detroit Three, landed two pickups on the list.
Three finalists for each of the awards are scheduled to be announced Dec. 17. The winners will be revealed Jan. 11.
The most anticipated vehicles made the list, including traditional leaders like the 2021 Cadillac Escalade, Ford F-150 and Nissan Rogue. But newcomers like the Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV, Chevrolet Trailblazer compact SUV and Genesis GV80 luxury SUV are well represented.
I’m one of the jurors for the award, and I was surprised new versions of a pair of traditional sales leaders didn’t didn’t make the list. The Toyota Sienna minivan and Highlander three-row SUV, both entirely new this year and favorites with American buyers, fell short.
A pair of attractively priced and equipped small SUVs also failed to make the list: the Buick Encore GX and Hyundai Venue.
Hyundai Kia’s rich haul included two vehicles from the company’s new Genesis luxury brand, the GV80 SUV and G80 sport sedan. Other semifinalists from the Korean automaker are the Hyundai Elantra and Santa Fe and Kia K5, Seltos and Sorento.
- Bronco Sport small SUV
- F-150 pickup
- F-series Super Duty pickup
- Mustang Mach-E electric SUV
- Cadillac CT4 and CT4-V sport sedans
- Cadillac Escalade
- Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban SUV
- Chevrolet Trailblazer small SUV
Fiat Chrysler, smallest of the Detroit Three, landed two pickups on the list:
- Ram 1500 TRX performance pickup
- Jeep Gladiator Mojave off-roader
The North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year awards, commonly known as NACTOY, are presented annually by a jury of about 50 automotive writers from across Canada and the United States. Criteria include value, innovation, technology design, safety and performance.
The full list of semifinalists:
Car of the Year
Hyundai Elantra family (includes N Line and HEV)
Mercedes-Benz E Class Sedan, All-Terrain, Coupe, Cabriolet
Utility of the Year
Ford Bronco Sport
Ford Mustang Mach E
Hyundai Santa Fe
Land Rover Defender
Toyota RAV4 Prime
Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge
Truck of the Year
Ford Super Duty
Ram 1500 TRX
Jeep Gladiator Mojave
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