Winners Announced January 15
Every January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards are presented to a few excited automakers. Based on ballots cast by an independent jury of automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada, the annual awards have no affiliation with the Detroit Auto Show, but they give manufacturers some serious bragging rights. Here’s a look at the three finalists announced for each category.
Car of the Year Finalists
This is Kia’s first visit to the finalists’ podium for North American Car of the Year, although the Stinger is unlike any car Kia has ever built. Arguably one of the stars of last year’s Detroit show, the Stinger is the Korean brand’s first-ever performance sedan. Behind the signature Kia grille, Stinger makes a bold statement with a wide stance, short front overhangs, a steeply-raked windshield, a vented hood, LED headlights and quad oval exhaust pipes. Two different powertrains are available, including a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 that produces 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. With this engine, the Stinger GT can hit 60 mph in a quick 4.7 seconds with a top speed of 167 mph — figures not typically associated with a Kia automobile. Stinger is also Kia’s first model to offer rear- or all-wheel drive.
While the Accord has never been named the North American Car of the Year, it’s sibling the Honda Ridgeline earned the Truck of the Year award last year. The Accord was completely redesigned for the 2017 model year; Honda calls it the most dramatic remake since the car debuted more than 40 years ago. In addition to the new exterior styling and updated interior, the Accord rides on an all-new chassis designed to improve safety, handling and comfort. Accord is available with two new turbocharged engines as well as a fuel-efficient two-motor hybrid system.
The best-selling passenger car in America for the last 16 years, the Camry has never earned the North American Car of the Year title. Toyota completely redesigned the Camry for the 2018 model year with fresh styling inside and out, as well as the latest in high-tech safety features and a new lineup of powerful, efficient powertrains. This is the eighth generation of the popular sedan which, was introduced in 1983. The 2018 Camry is available in a variety of trim levels ranging from the base-level L to the luxurious and powerful XLE V6. This top-level XLE is the first Camry ever to be available with more than 300 horsepower, thanks to its 3.5-liter DOHC V6 engine.
Truck of the Year Finalists
Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
Chevrolet has taken its midsize Colorado and created a version built for the off-road enthusiast. The ZR2 is wider than a standard Colorado with a suspension lifted 2 inches higher. Front and rear electronic locking differentials, big 31-inch off-road tires and thick aluminum skidplates are among the goodies designed to help the ZR2 conquer just about any terrain. Front and rear bumpers have been modified to improve road clearance, while rock sliders provide better performance when climbing over rocks and other obstacles. The ZR2 is available with two different powertrains, including a 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel boasting 369 lb-ft of torque.
The all-new 2018 Ford Expedition appeared at last year’s Chicago Auto Show with a new high-strength aluminum-alloy body and redesigned high-strength steel frame. Expedition has a more powerful turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine with standard Auto Start-Stop, combined with a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Off-road capability is improved with a newly available electronic limited-slip differential when equipped with Intelligent AWD. The 2018 model has more than 40 features and driver-assist technologies new to Expedition, including wireless charging, a Wi-Fi hotspot, SYNC 3, SYNC Connect, power in every row, and a Panoramic Vista Roof. Expedition’s flexible seating includes second-row tip-and-slide seats that provide easy access to the third row even with child seats installed.
The wraps came off the all-new 2018 Lincoln Navigator at last year’s New York Auto Show, and the new model didn’t stray much from the look of the concept that was introduced one year earlier. The large grille immediately grabs attention, and when the driver walks up to the Navigator, the Lincoln logo lights up softly along with LED lighting that illuminates the ground around the vehicle. Inside, ambient lighting accents all three seat rows at night, while during the day a panoramic sunroof ensures that even those sitting in the third row don’t feel claustrophobic. The big Lincoln has big power to match — a twin-turbo V6 engine that puts out 450 horsepower, delivered through a new 10-speed automatic transmission.
Utility Vehicle of the Year Finalists
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
We never would have ever expected that a legendary brand like Alfa Romeo would have an entry in the running for Utility Vehicle of the Year, but as a clear sign of the times, the Italian car company now offers a sporty, stylish crossover. Named for one of the highest mountain passes (with one of the best roads) in the Italian Alps, Stelvio offers the performance and styling of the Giulia sedan with the utility expected from a luxury crossover. Initially available with a 280-horsepower turbocharged engine, Stelvio will also get the 2.9-liter bi-turbo intercooled V6 engine producing 505 horsepower currently used in the Giulia Quadrifoglio.
One of the most popular minivans on the market, the all-new 2018 Odyssey debuted at last year’s North American International Auto Show. With an expressive new exterior design, the updated Odyssey features the new “Magic Slide” second-row seat system that offers multiple seat configurations and third-row access options. The center second-row seat can be removed, or the outboard seats can be moved laterally between five positions for third-row access. The Odyssey features many high-tech features, including the new Display Audio, CabinWatch, CabinTalk and streaming video with 4G LTE Wi-Fi. A new CabinControl app enables smartphone control of key vehicle systems as well as audio and rear-seat entertainment features.
Volvo introduced the next-generation of the versatile XC60 at last year’s New York Auto Show. Representing about 30 percent of Volvo’s global sales, the XC60 is built on the brand’s new Scalable Product Architecture. This makes the 5-passenger XC60 longer, wider and lower than the previous generation, which not only gives the new model a roomier interior — almost 2 more inches of rear-seat legroom — but also a more aggressive stance and better driving dynamics. Billed as one of the safest cars ever made, the new XC60 features the latest in high-tech safety gear, including a new system called Oncoming Lane Mitigation, which can autonomously steer out of the way to avoid a head-on collision.