The Los Angeles Auto Show recently kicked off with the announcement of the finalists for the prestigious North American Car, Truck, and Utility of the Year awards. This year, the awards are closely aligned with industry trends, as five of the finalists are all-electric vehicles (EVs) and two are gas-electric hybrids. Notably, California and other governments are increasing fines on automakers, starting in 2026, to encourage the production of only EVs by 2035.
When it comes to the truck category, Detroit brands dominated, but surprisingly, they were shut out of the car and SUV nominees, with only one EV, the Chevy Silverado EV Work Truck, making the cut. The NACTOY awards hold significant weight in the industry, with a panel of 50 journalists from North America serving as independent jurors. The president of NACTOY, Jeff Gilbert, commented on the diversity of the jury and their ability to reach a consensus, which is the strength of the award.
Moving on to the utility category, electric SUVs stood out among the finalists. The Genesis Electrified GV70, priced at $68,000, the Kia EV9 at $56,000, and the Volvo EX30, priced at $35,000, were the top contenders. Among these options, the Volvo EX30, an affordable luxury EV priced under $40,000, is expected to be the favorite.
Despite gas-powered vehicles accounting for over 90% of consumer sales, the jurors were keen to highlight the wave of EVs coming to showrooms as automakers phase out petrol-powered options. This meant that affordable gas-powered SUVs like the Dodge Hornet and the three-row Mazda CX-90 and Hyundai Kona did not make the cut.
In terms of trucks, the Chevy Silverado V Work Truck, priced at over $70,000, impressed the jurors with its driving dynamics and technology. However, the more affordable Chevy Colorado mid-size truck, equipped with a turbo-4 cylinder engine, may be the favorite, with the Ford F-250 Super Duty also in the running. The highly anticipated Tesla Cybertruck did not make the cut since it was not available for media testing. The 2024 Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger were also absent due to the unavailability of testing and will be contestants for the 2025 award.
In the car category, a couple of hybrids, the Honda Accord and Toyota Prius, emerged as leaders. Both have previously won NACTOY honors. However, the Hyundai Ioniq 6 EV, a beautiful upstart in the industry, could steal their thunder. Despite the decline in car demand in recent years, sedans and sports cars remain influential in shaping industry trends.
Notably, the seventh-generation Ford Mustang did not make the final cut, despite being the last muscle car standing in the U.S. after the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger were discontinued to comply with emissions regulations. The Chevy Corvette E-Ray, the first electrified all-wheel-drive Corvette, was also overlooked in favor of higher-volume sedans.
Expect the Toyota Prius to be a favorite in its category as it has transformed from an original, ugly-duckling hybrid to garnering swan-like appeal without sacrificing fuel economy.
Over the last 30 years, the NACTOY awards have recognized automakers that have made significant innovations in design, performance, technology, driver satisfaction, and value. The winners of this year’s awards will be announced in January in Detroit.
In conclusion, the finalists for the North American Car, Truck, and Utility of the Year awards showcase the industry’s shift towards electric vehicles. With five EVs among the finalists, it is evident that the push for cleaner and more sustainable transportation is gaining momentum. As consumers continue to embrace SUVs, it is interesting to see the inclusion of affordable luxury EVs and the absence of traditional gas-powered options in some categories. The NACTOY awards will undoubtedly shine a spotlight on the most innovative and impactful vehicles in the market.