Every year, a panel of U.S. and Canadian automotive journalists hands out the National American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) awards at the Detroit Auto Show. But the list of eligible vehicles is announced much earlier, in order to provide time for three rounds of voting to narrow down the field.
Winners are to be announced on January 9, making this the 2017 iteration of NACTOY. The just-announced 2017 NACTOY field includes 43 models, but few of the new vehicles on this year’s list can be considered particularly green. Only the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car and 2017 Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid are particularly notable.
The Acura NSX hybrid supercar is also among the eligible vehicles, but it is a low-volume model that emphasizes performance more than outright efficiency. The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq will not be considered this year due to timing, but it has already been assigned to the following year’s eligibility list.
The Ioniq will be offered with battery-electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid powertrains, but only the electric version will go on sale before the end of this year. That means the Ioniq won’t be widely available until next year, when the plug-in hybrid version will also have arrived in showrooms.
Granted, other models on the 2017 ballot emphasize fuel efficiency, albeit to a lesser degree. That includes fuel-efficient small gasoline cars like the Mini Clubman and Mitsubishi Mirage. Some models — such as the Cadillac CT6 and Chrysler Pacifica — will eventually get plug-in hybrid variants, and many others feature downsized engines.
That includes the Jaguar XE, which is offered with 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline and diesel four-cylinder engines, and also sports a body made mostly from aluminum. NACTOY traditionally names a Car of the Year and Truck of the Year, but this year a utility-vehicle category is being added as well.
This third category encompasses traditional body-on-frame SUVs, car-based crossovers, and minivans — all of which had previously been lumped into the “truck” category. The Volvo XC90 was named North American Truck of the Year for 2016, while the Honda Civic won the Car of the Year award.
For the record, four editors at IB Automotive are among the 60 NACTOY jurors: Kirk Bell, Mitch McCullough, Marty Padgett, and John Voelcker.
For more information, visit the official NACTOY website.