Meet the candidates for car, truck and SUV of the year

Meet the candidates for car, truck and SUV of the year

Mark Phelan
Detroit Free PressPublished 7:39 AM EDT Jul 7, 2020The process to name the best new vehicles introduced this year has begun. Driving and learning about the SUVs, cars and trucks will dominate consumers’ interest and auto writers’ time for the rest of 2020.Will the Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV be a triumph? Can Cadillac generate interest in its sport sedans with the CT4? Does Genesis have a hit on its hands with the GV80, its first SUV? Can the ‘desert-rated’ Jeep Gladiator Mojave challenge a new version of the perennially best-selling Ford F-150?  Those are the big questions, but North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle (NACTOY) jurors have to answer a set of ‘where, how and when’ questions before we can even begin to address them. I’m a juror, along with about 50 other automotive journalists from across the U.S. and Canada.Challenges for judgesStop me if you’ve heard this before, but things are different this year. Every year, a few important vehicles go on sale so late in the calendar that NACTOY jurors have to scramble to evaluate them before we vote on the best in late December. Development and production delays this year promise to make that more of a scramble than usual. At the same time, journalists are figuring out how to evaluate those vehicles when we can’t sit down and grille the executives, engineers and designers responsible for them. It’s like assembling a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces are scattered across an acre.Facebook ad boycott: Civil rights groups want to end hate speech, harassment of Black usersAsk HR: Can companies require masks?The first step is figuring out what vehicles are eligible. Thirty-eight vehicles that are new or very significantly changed from last year made the cut. Twelve come from Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, the traditional Detroit Three. Nine are made by companies based in Europe and 17 in Asia. My fellow jurors and I have until around mid-September to decide which are good or innovative enough to deserve a second closer look as semifinalists. We’ll evaluate them more closely in the fall, eventually choosing three finalists for each of the three awards. Winners will be announced Jan. 11 in Detroit.The list is a living document. Some vehicles on it may not go on sale in time to be eligible. Others may be added later.Here are the current candidates, with a word or two about each vehicle:Car of the Year2021 Acura TLX — a sporty new sedan built to revitalize Honda’s luxury brand2021 BMW 330e and 330e xDrive — electric versions of BMW’s signature sport sedan2021 BMW 430i, 430i xDrive and M440i xDrive — new models of the sporty 4-series2021 BMW 545e xDrive — plug-in hybrid version of benchmark sport sedan2020 Cadillac CT4 — sleek successor to ATS sport sedan     2021 Genesis G80 — new sport sedan2021 Hyundai Elantra — compact car2021 Lexus IS — compact sport sedan2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class — new model of Mercedes’ best-selling family sedan2021 MINI Cooper SE — electric version of Mini’s signature retro go-kart2020 Nissan Sentra — Maxima styling and lots of standard features in a compact sedanUtility of the Year2021 BMW X2 xDrive25e — plug-in hybrid small SUV2021 BMW X3 xDrive30e and xDrive45e — plug-in hybrid compact SUV2021 Buick Encore GX — new SUV builds on appeal of smaller Encore2021 Cadillac Escalade — Cadillac’s flagship SUV is all new, loaded with technology2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer — subcompact SUV offers Blazer looks in a more affordable package2021 Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban — new versions of the vehicles that dominate large SUV sales2021 Ford Bronco Sport — based on the Ford Escape, a smaller off-road companion to the midsize Bronco SUV that goes on sale next year2021 Ford Mustang Mach E — electric SUV brings new tech and body style to a beloved name2021 Genesis GV80 — Genesis’ first SUV hopes popular body style and new tech will raise brand’s profile2021 GMC Yukon/Yukon XL — luxury large SUVs2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid — hybrid power comes to one of America’s favorite vehicles2021 Hyundai Santa Fe — new SUV in hot-selling compact segment2021 Hyundai Venue — entry-level SUV offers lots for the money, but not AWD2021 Kia Seltos — Telluride style in a smaller, more affordable package2020 Land Rover Defender 90 and 110— retro looks and modern tech revive a revered nameplate2020 Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring — plug-in hybrid version of compact luxury SUV2020 Mazda CX-30 — sporty character and looks in a subcompact SUV2021 Nissan Rogue — new version of one of America’s best-selling vehicles.2021 Toyota Venza — stylish looks and hybrid power in a five-seat midsize SUV2021 Toyota Sienna — minivan banks on aggressive look, family-friendly features2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime — plug-in hybrid of America’s top-selling non-pickup2020 Toyota Highlander — new three-row family carrying SUV2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport — sporty, five-seat version of family SUV2021 Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge — electric version of small luxury SUVTruck of the Year2020 Ford Super Duty — big workhorse pickups add features2021 Ford  F-150 — America’s best-selling vehicle gets new body, interior, tech2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave — ‘desert-rated’ version of popular midsize pickupContact Mark Phelan: 313-222-6731 or  mmphelan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Read more on autos and sign up for our autos newsletter.


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