As it traditionally does, the 2017 Detroit auto show officially kicked off with the announcement of the North American Car and Truck of the Year winners. This year was a little different, though, as a third category, utility vehicle, was added to the list to represent the growing significance of the segment in the new car market.
Among trucks, the Honda Ridgeline bested the Nissan Titan and Ford Motor Company F-Series Super Duty.
The finalists for the 2017 North American Car and Truck of the Year awards were whittled down from an original field of 43 contenders (27 vehicles in the car category, 12 for the utility category, and four trucks).
The Chevrolet Bolt EV was likely recognized as the first mass market electric car with significant range–238 miles on a full charge–at an affordable price. The car also drives well and offers immediate power from its electric motor.
The Ridgeline is unique among pickup trucks with its unibody structure. That makes it drive more like a crossover than a heavy pickup truck, and it’s easy to forget that there’s a bed behind you. Nonetheless, the bed has some unique features, like a dual-opening tailgate, an under-bed trunk, and even in-bed speakers.
Chrysler’s new Pacifica sets a new standard for comfort and luxury in a minivan. It prettier than ever, quieter, offers even more room–now with a very comfortable third-row seat–and adds new entertainment features that keep the kids occupied. The new platform makes it driver better, too, and the 3.6-liter V-6 provides plenty of power.
To be eligible for the awards, a vehicle had to be new or substantially changed for the current year. The vehicles also had to be popular sellers, thus ruling out many niche products like those from the exotic brands.
The judging panel, which this year includes four Internet Brands staff, considered a variety of attributes to determine the winners, including innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value. The winners of the 2016 awards were the Honda Civic and Volvo XC90.