Detroit — The North American Car, Truck, and Utility of the Year awards kicked off Wednesday’s first full day of the Detroit auto show with the “Best of 2024” vehicles nominated for the 2024 prize. Ten cars, five trucks and 10 utility vehicles advance to the semifinal round of the prestigious contest.
The list is full of surprises.
In the SUV category, America’s iconic Jeep Wrangler did not make the cut, likely because its 2024 model was more update than remake. That, and electric vehicles are all the rage, and the jury was smitten by pricey EVs like the $56k Chevrolet Blazer EV and the $68k Genesis GV70 Electrified. Clever, compact SUVs like the all-new Chevy Trax and Buick Envista also were overlooked despite affordable, sub-$30k sticker prices at a time when Americans are struggling to afford inflated, $50k-average new vehicle prices. The 25 best were winnowed from a field of 52 eligible 2024 models.
The affordable Subaru Crosstrek was also passed over (though its sister Impreza hatchback got a car nominee nod) as was the Alfa Romeo Tonale, the luxury brand’s peppy plug-in hybrid that marks a new era of electrification for the Italian brand. Notable Utility nominees include the first electric Chevrolet Equinox, quick Dodge Hornet, stylish Mazda CX-90 and the Kia EV9 — the first three-row electric SUV.
The NACTOY awards are among the industry’s most prestigious as 50 independent journalists from the United States and Canada render their judgment after a year of extensive testing. The 25 best will be furthered winnowed to three finalists in each category Nov. 16 at the Los Angeles Auto Show — and then winners will be named Jan. 4 in Detroit.
“The value of these awards is in the expertise and diverse perspectives of our jurors,” said NACTOY president Jeff Gilbert. “We all evaluate vehicles in a different way. We look forward to learning more about them and comparing them with the competition.”
There were surprises in the truck category as well.
Perhaps the year’s most anticipated truck, the Tesla Cybertruck, did not make the list — likely because Tesla has not made the pickup available for media testing. Another surprise was the absence of the 2024 Toyota Tacoma, the much-ballyhooed remake of the mid-size segment’s best-selling pickup. However, Tacoma will be available for media testing this year — and will likely debut on the NACTOY list as a 2025 model next fall.
Without Tacoma in the mix, the truck wars will be settled by five worthy semi-finalists: the Chevrolet Colorado, Chevrolet Silverado EV, Ford Ranger, Ford Super Duty and GMC Canyon. While EVs are all the rage, the Silverado’s $50k-$106k price tag may raise eyebrows. Expect the Colorado and Ranger to fight to the death for top honors.
While car demand has diminished in recent years in the face of Americans’ thirst for SUVs (Ford doesn’t even make sedans anymore), the best car category is loaded.
Nominees include everything from the iconic Ford Mustang to the first all-wheel-drive Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray to the venerable BMW 5-series and reborn Toyota Prius. Expect the Prius to be a favorite as the original hybrid nerd-mobile has been transformed into a swan — without sacrificing fuel economy.
The Mustang and Prius can expect strong competition from the handsome Honda Accord — which is targeting 50% hybrid sales — and the Hyundai Ioniq 6, one of the prettiest sedan designs to come down the pike. Performance enthusiasts will be disappointed that the Porsche 911 GT3 RS and 911 Dakar didn’t make the cut — but the snarling, all-wheel-drive Toyota GR Corolla will carry the flag for those with a need for speed.
The auto industry is at a crossroads as government regulators are forcing automakers to go all-electric – or pay increasingly onerous fines from 2026 to 2035. Consumers, meanwhile, seem shy to EVs not named Tesla and so gas-fired trucks and SUVs continue to roll off assembly lines.
Over the last 30 years, NACTOY has honored automakers who have made substantial innovations in design, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value. With the flood of new EVs, jurors are determined to recognize the best of the new breed while also balancing consumer needs.
Stay tuned for more NACTOY news as the awards season heats up.
2024 NACTOY semi-finalists
BMW 5 Series
Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray
Hyundai Ioniq 6
Toyota GR Corolla
Toyota Prius/Prius Prime
Chevrolet Silverado EV
Ford Super Duty
Chevrolet Blazer EV
Chevrolet Equinox EV
Genesis Electrified GV70
Toyota Grand Highlander
Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at email@example.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne