Every year the top names in the automotive press corps gather to test, review, and nominate the North American Car and Truck of the Year. Those who select these vehicles represent the top automotive voices in print, web, and TV, and winning such an award is a greatly revered honor.
The award is not for the out-and-out best performance or off-road vehicle on the market for a given year, but rather a combination of best all-around car, or vehicle that represents a particular trend associated with a given particular model year. This year’s finalists include the latest versions of some longstanding names in their respective markets, but also include some vehicles that represent some of the more interesting trends of the 2015-2016 vehicle model years.
COTY Finalist: Chevrolet Malibu
There is a strong contingent of NACTOY voters that can’t shake their Detroit apologist/bias and it shows with this nomination. The Malibu is a just-OK car, but is blown out of the water by most other sedans on the market. If you are in the market for a family sedan, the Malibu is fine, but this feels like lip service to Detroit.
COTY Finalist: Honda Civic
Our own Jeff Perez recently drove the new Civic, and simply put, the car was redemption for nearly five years of “meh.” Perez also cited “Impressive performance, beautiful design, thoughtful interior,” among the things the new Civic has going forward. After years of mediocrity, Honda is back at the top of the pack.
COTY Finalist: Mazda MX-5 Miata
This is one of the rare cases (unless any of the American automakers roll out a sports car) to nominate a more performance oriented vehicle. The Miata is the sports car for everyone, with a handling demeanor that makes it approachable for the average driver, and a platform to customize for the weekend racer. We liked it enough to make it one of our finalists for Bold Ride of the Year. Want to know if it won?
TOTY Finalist: Honda Pilot
2016 Honda Pilot Front
Honda has rounded out the edges of this previously boxy-yet-best-selling SUV. The latest version features more of an up-sized CR-V look. It also has a tech-laden interior and some very impressive storage options. Honda has once again made a winner as family SUVs go.
TOTY Finalist: Nissan Titan XD
The Titan has long been the also-ran in the full-size truck market, struggling to compete with the Americans, and thus needed to do something different to stay in that market. Its answer was to put a diesel engine in a light-duty pickup truck. It was a gamble, bringing commercial-grade performance to a weekend-warrior truck. The jury is still out on the engine, but as our own Jonathon Klein found, its interior left much to be desired on a pre-production model.
TOTY Finalist: Volvo XC90
The Volvo SUV had gotten particularly long in the tooth, so expectations were big. It appears the XC90 has delivered with impressive styling and going in big on tech. You’ll first be impressed by the large digital interior panels, while the low-speed self-driving system is one step towards the reality that Volvo is among the top automakers when it comes to autonomous tech.
The North American Car and Truck of the Year will be announced at the 2016 North American Car and Truck of the year in Detroit. Did the experts miss a car that should have been included? Did you agree with their nominees or our assessment of them? Let us know what you think in the comments below!