This year's semifinalists for some of the auto industry's most prestigious awards have been revealed, and there are a few surprises -- but not all of them are among the vehicular nominees, some are with the awards themselves.
The North American Car, Truck And Utility Awards are particularly sought-after honors in the auto industry because they are voted on not by an individual publication or show, but by a self-funded, non-profit group of independent, full-time automotive journalists who work for all manner of media outlets, including print, online, television and radio. This will be the awards' 24th year.
Outlets represented on the jury include publications like Car and Driver, MotorWeek, Kelley Blue Book, The Detroit News, and yes, Roadshow by CNET. Full Disclosure: I am a longtime member of the jury.
About those surprises: If you've been paying attention to the NACTOY awards in years past, you may be surprised to learn that a third category has sprouted up. In recent years, trucks and utility vehicles have been lumped into a single award category, Truck/Utility Of The Year. In recognition of the diversifying vehicle market, true trucks (pickups, cargo vans, etc.), will no longer do battle with sport- and crossover-utility vehicles and minivans. There will be two awards: Truck Of The Year and Utility Of The Year. Passenger automobiles including sedans and sports cars will continue to vie for their own award, the North American Car Of The Year.
These semifinalists (previously known as "short list" selections) have been voted on from a longer list of nominees that essentially includes all new vehicles expected to launch for the 2017 model year. The jurors -- including me -- have been testing new vehicles all year, and cut down the "long list" to these deserving candidates:
Car Of The Year Nominees:
Utility Vehicle Of The Year Nominees:
Truck Of The Year Nominees:
You may feel that some new vehicles you expected to make the list aren't present. That may be because the jury wasn't sufficiently impressed enough to vote them onto the list of semifinalists. In other cases, some models may not be on sale in time for consideration this award season. In other cases, automakers have advised NACTOY that they won't be able to make a vehicle available to the entire 60-member jury.
Jurors will now focus on evaluating these semifinalists, including in a group drive setting where jurors can drive all of the nominees back to back. Later this fall, another vote will whittle each category down to three finalists. A final period of testing will commence, and after a final round of voting, the winners will be announced January 9 at a press conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.