DETROIT, Michigan – The Honda Accord, Volvo XC60 and Lincoln Navigator were announced as the latest winners of the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year awards (NACTOY) at the opening of media days for the year’s first international auto show, in Detroit’s Cobo Hall. The winners were picked by an independent jury of 59 established auto journalists from across Canada and the United States.
This announcement marks the 25th annual edition of the prestigious North American awards program, launched in 1994. In only its second year, the separate Utility vehicle of the Year award acknowledges the growing presence of light-utility vehicles such as crossovers, SUVs and minivans in the North American market. The Truck of the Year award recognizes the strong and steady popularity of pickup trucks and larger, higher-capacity sport-utility vehicles, on this continent.
Honda Accord: An iconic sedan reinvented
The fully-redesigned, tenth-generation Honda Accord won the Car of the Year award with a final tally of 277 points over the sleek and racy Kia Stinger by a margin of 31 points, for a total of 246 points. The all-new Toyota Camry trailed the leading duo with a final crop of only 77 points.
Honda has won several NACTOY awards over the years, including The Accord comes with either an 1.5-litre or a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine. Jurors also tested the Sport version that combines the larger engine, a six-speed manual gearbox, a sport-tuned suspension and performance tires. A hybrid version of the Accord is coming soon.
Volvo XC60: An elegant and thoroughly modern winner
The Volvo XC60 garnered a total of 246 points while the runner-up spot, in the Utility Vehicle Category went to the all-new Honda Odyssey minivan with 182 points. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio, sharing a platform with the Giulia sedans, was a very close third, with a final 172 points.
Developed and built on Volvo’s flexible SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform, like the XC90 luxury SUV that won the North American Utility of the Year award in 2015, the new Volvo XC60 won it again for the Swedish carmaker, this time in the Utility Vehicle category. Jurors lauded its modern, original design, safety features, inspired dynamics and leading-edge powertrains, including a plug-in hybrid system.
Lincoln Navigator: Grand American brawn and luxury
Victory, and a snazzy NACTOY stainless steel trophy, went to the bold and spectacular Lincoln Navigator, with a total of 212 points. The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 midsize pickup finished a close second, with a final crop of 200 points.
The all-new Lincoln Navigator, built on a platform shared with the Ford Expedition and derived from Ford’s aluminium-rich, full-size pickup platform. It is richly trimmed, in pure American luxury style and has a plethora of luxury systems and accessories, many with an innovative twist. Under the hood is a twin-turbocharged, 3.5-litre, 450-horsepower V6 with plenty of grunt for performance and towing capacity.
Transitional testing venue
Today’s announcements are the final stage of a testing and voting process that is distributed over several months. Inspired by the long-running European COTY program, NACOTY relies entirely on the jurors’ credibility, experience and professionalism. A strong emphasis is always put on sheer value, in addition to the innovation factor and demonstrated superiority in the vehicle’s specific category.
By a first vote, in June, jurors brought the number of contenders down from 20 to the usual maximum of 15 ‘semi-finalists’ in the bustling Utility vehicle category. All eleven models originally entered were thus eligible in the Cars category. In Trucks, only the minimum of three vehicles were in contention, two of them large SUVs with high towing capacities.
This year, NACTOY’s three-day drive event moved from the country roads surrounding Hell Creek, in Pinckney, Michigan, where it had been held for several years, to a network of streets and roads surrounding Willow Run, near Ann Arbor. After this transition, the testing program will move again next year, this time to the American Center for Mobility, a facility dedicated to the testing and development of autonomous vehicle technologies. The centre, inaugurated last December, was not available in time for NACTOY’s test days this year.
After a final round of testing, ballots for the three awards were submitted by jurors in the first days of January and tabulated by the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche. Results were kept secret until the announcement of the winners, on January 15 at the opening of press days for the 2018 North American International Auto Show, in Detroit. Detailed voting results, for all jurors, will subsequently be fully accessible to the public on the NACTOY website at http://northamericancaroftheyear.org
NACTOY trophy replica and roster on permanent display
A sleek and simply gorgeous trophy, in the shape of a classic open-top sports car, was created last year for the NACTOY awards by former General Motors chief of Design Ed Welburn. As promised, a larger, stainless steel replica of the NACOTY trophy, weighing 100 pounds (45 kg) is now on permanent display at Cobo Center in Detroit, home of the NAIAS show. Plaques with the engraved names of all winners are affixed to the tall, black granite base of the trophy replica. The 25th plaque will soon be added, completing the fifth row.