Here’s How I Voted the 2023 Cars, Trucks, and SUVs Finalists — and Why — Detroit Free Press | CarTailz

It’s awards season. Nine finalists for North America’s most ubiquitous, widely judged and – I believe – most influential automobile award, North American Car, Truck and Commercial Vehicle of the Year, will be announced next Thursday at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

I’m one of the 50 judges for NACTOY, as the awards are called. We cover the auto industry, reviewing vehicles and technology for a variety of outlets across the US and Canada. You can see and hear our work in a variety of places, from newspapers, magazines and websites to podcasts, streaming videos, social media, radio and television.

Unfortunately – in my opinion – NACTOY does not yet have any judges who are based in Mexico. That’s because while nearly every vehicle sold in the US is also available in Canada, Mexico gets a bunch of vehicles — and some entire brands — that the other countries don’t have. That differentiates the markets considerably. Journalists in the US and Canada never get a chance to review some significant vehicles sold in Mexico and vice versa.

More:Electric vehicles and hybrids dominate the semi-finalist list for North American vehicle awards

2022 Kia Sportage plug-in hybrid

The assessment process is fun, fascinating and frustrating. I have been driving eligible vehicles for this year’s awards since January 2022. I’ve spent days over the past month getting to know the 26 semifinalists again, including talking to my fellow judges and others whose judgment and experience I trust: “What are you doing and how? Why?”

26 semifinalists, no losers

Despite all that sitting time and research, I was still reeling and reconsidering my decisions as I filled out my electronic ballot Tuesday morning.

Very few bad vehicles are introduced today.

The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq is Cadillac's first electric vehicle.

Sure, I ask myself, “What were they thinking?” a few times a year, but even these wayward vehicles nearly all offer safe and reliable transportation.

At the latest when the jury has narrowed the field of every new car that went on sale in 2022, there will no longer be any bad candidates. We choose between degrees of excellence.

2023 Genesis G90 interior

The judges consider a range of factors including value, innovation, performance and design. These categories are intentionally broad so that judges can bring their experience to bear on the process.

The NACTOY rating is about much more than lowest price, fastest 0-60 mph time, highest towing capacity or largest battery.

The semi-finalists for the 2023 North American Vehicles of the Year are:

North American Car of the Year

  • Acura Integra
  • BMW i4 eDrive 40
  • Genesis G80EV
  • Genesis G90
  • Mercedes Benz C Class
  • Mercedes-Benz EQE
  • Nissan Z
  • Subaru WRX
  • Toyota crown
  • Toyota GR Corolla
The first-ever Silverado ZR2 is Chevy's new flagship off-road truck and the latest addition to a successful line of off-road factory-installed lift trucks.

North American Truck of the Year

  • Chevrolet Silverado ZR2
  • Ford F-150 Lightning
  • Lordstown endurance
Prices for Lordstown Motors' Endurance electric pickup truck start at $63,365, excluding destination charge.

North American Commercial Vehicle of the Year

  • Audi Q4 e-tron
  • BMW iX xDrive 50
  • Cadillac Lyriq
  • Genesis GV60
  • Honda CR-V
  • Honda HR-V
  • Kia EV6
  • Kia Sportage
  • Lexus RX
  • Mazda CX-50
  • Nissan Ariya
  • Rivian R1S
  • Charge Volvo C40

What happens next?

Each judge has 25 points to share among the semi-finalists in each category. You cannot give more than 10 points to any vehicle, and you can only give 10 points to one vehicle.

Judges can split their points as they see fit. I like to maximize the impact of my voices, so I split them between my top three vehicles. Some judges split their points widely, giving fewer points to each of a larger number of vehicles.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Pro.  Pre-production model with available features shown.

After the finalists have been announced, the judges have time for further evaluation and research. I expect to ride each of the finalists one more time before my pick for a winner is due on January 6th. In this final vote, each judge has 10 points to award as they see fit, allocating all 10 to a single vehicle or splitting them up.

Winners will be announced in Detroit on January 11th.

Here’s how and why I voted for the 2023 NACTOY finalists:

My pick for North American Car of the Year

First choice: Acura Integra

What is it? Sporty compact sedan with front-wheel drive. Prices start at $30,800. All prices exclude destination fees.

The sleek Integra is a welcome throwback to Acura’s early days, when its cars had style, names and a sporty character.

Prices for the 2023 Acura Integra start at $30,800.

Second choice:Genesis G90

What is it? Big luxury sedan with four wheel drive. Prices start at $88,400.

Beautiful inside and out, the 2023 G90 is the most refined and advanced sedan from Hyundai luxury brand Genesis.

Third choice: Subaru WRX

What is it? Performance compact sedan with all-wheel drive. Prices start at $29,605.

2022 Subaru WRX instrument panel

Building on the performance history of the WRX, the 2022 and 2023 model offers space and driving comfort. A stiffer chassis and lively steering complete the picture.

My pick for North American Truck of the Year

First choice: Ford F-150 Lightning

What is it? Full size electric pickup truck. Prices start at $39.7974.

The F-150 Lightning changed how America thinks about electric vehicles and gave the technology the credibility of being the country’s all-time best-selling vehicle.

The first-ever Silverado ZR2 is Chevy's new flagship off-road truck and the latest addition to a successful line of off-road factory-installed lift trucks.

Second choice: Chevrolet Silverado ZR2

What is it? Large pickup with crew cab and off-road equipment. Prices start at $67,500.

The new shocks and springs increase wheel articulation to handle rough terrain. Other additions include electronic controls for rock climbing, front and rear locking differentials, and 33-inch off-road tires.

Prices for Lordstown Motors' Endurance electric pickup truck start at $63,365, excluding destination charge.

Third choice: Lordstown endurance

What is it? Full size electric pickup truck with crew cab. Prices start at $63,365.

Available only to commercial customers, the lightweight Endurance is a testament to the life of financially troubled EV startup Lordstown Motors. Power comes from electric motors housed in the wheel hubs, an innovation that has handicapped other automakers.

My pick for North American Commercial Vehicle of the Year

First choice: Cadillac Lyriq

What is it? Luxury mid-size electric SUV with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Base Price: $61,795.

The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq is Cadillac's first electric vehicle.

The Lyriq’s styling, interior design and advanced features make Cadillac’s first electric vehicle a keeper and bode well for GM’s Ultium ecosystem of EV batteries, motors and controls.

Second choice: Kia EV6

What is it? Sporty electric mid-size SUV with rear or all-wheel drive Base price: 41,400 US dollars.

The EV6’s dramatic looks and advanced 800-volt charging system made it one of the most successful electric vehicles of the year. The 576 hp EV6 GT promises to broaden its appeal.

The sleek and modern 2022 Kia EV6's styling and technology sets it apart from other small SUVs.

Third choice: Kia Sportage

What is it? Compact SUV with front or all-wheel drive. Base Price: $25,990.

The stylish Sportage offers hybrid and plug-in hybrid models as well as useful infotainment and driver assistance features.

Contact Mark Phelan:mmphelan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Read more about cars and sign up for our cars newsletter. become a subscriber.

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