Winners Announced January 14
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 very excited automakers. Based on ballots cast by an independent jury of 54 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 are some quick snapshots of the three finalists in each category vying for 2019 North American Car / Truck / UV of the Year.
Car of the Year Finalists
The Genesis brand has been in existence since 2017, and 2019 already marks the second time a Genesis has made the finals — the first finalist was the 2017 G90. The third model in the Genesis lineup, the sporty G70 four-door sedan offers a generous combination of luxury amenities and impressive performance. The G70 comes well equipped with a variety of available powertrains, including a robust 365-horsepower twin-turbo V6. Configurable in rear- or all-wheel drive, the G70 also caters to driving enthusiasts by offering a manual gearbox. With prices starting below $35,000, the Genesis G70 is a great option in the sport sedan market.
In 1999 the Honda Insight was a small 2-seat hatchback that held the honor of being the first hybrid car ever sold in America. In 2001, the Insight was on this finalist list, and this year the Insight is back. Positioned between the Civic and Accord, the all-new Insight features a fuel-efficient powertrain with a 1.5-liter Atkinson Cycle engine teamed with an electric motor delivering a total of 151 horsepower and 197 lb-ft of torque. Under most driving conditions, the gasoline engine produces electricity that drives the electric motors rather than driving the wheels directly. Fuel economy numbers are impressive — this roomy 4-door sedan delivers 55 mpg city / 49 mpg hwy / 52 mpg combined.
Volvo S60 / V60
The new S60 sedan and V60 wagon are built on Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture platform that it shares with the XC60 as well as 90-series models (XC90, V90, S90). Both sedan and wagon feature all-new styling that fits with the rest of the updated lineup. The vehicles also have more spacious interiors, higher levels of luxury and the latest technology designed to enhance the driving experience as well as increase safety levels. A range of powertrains are available, including the T8 plug-in hybrid that produces an impressive 400 horsepower.
Utility Vehicle of the Year Finalists
Introduced at last year’s New York Auto Show, the all-new Acura RDX incorporates the Acura design language seen first on the Acura Precision Concept. The prominent Acura Diamond Pentagon Grille is flanked by new Jewel Eye headlights that now include seven LED lighting elements, making them among the brightest headlights on the road. Power for the 2019 Acura RDX comes from a new VTEC Turbo 2.0-liter direct-injection engine that produces 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, teamed with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Also updated is the Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive system that can deliver up to 70 percent of available torque to the rear axle. Acura’s SH-AWD uses dynamic torque vectoring to sharpen performance and handling in all weather and road conditions.
Hyundai Kona / Kona EV
The all-new Kona bolsters the Korean automaker’s reputation for excellent value wrapped in a fun-to-drive package; this stylish crossover has looks unique enough to separate it from the rest of the CUV crowd. Built on an all-new platform, the Kona is available with a choice of fuel-efficient gasoline powertrains or as a fully electric vehicle. With standout styling, fun driving characteristics and the latest in available safety technology, Kona has certainly been noticed in the growing compact crossover market. Add to that a high level of utility and a low starting price and Kona becomes an impressive package.
With all the European car companies making promises about building a premium electric vehicle, it’s a bit surprising that Jaguar would be the first to market. The all-new I-PACE is an entirely electric model that looks and feels like a Jaguar should — and offering excellent performance both on- and off-road. The I-PACE’s electric propulsion comes from dual permanent-magnet synchronous electric motors — one powering the front wheels, one powering the rears to create a permanent 4-wheel-drive system. Total output is 394 horsepower and 512 lb-ft of torque. Electric motors deliver peak torque immediately, which means the I-PACE can reach 60 mph from a standstill in a quick 4.5 seconds. Jaguar claims a range of 240 miles; however, the range will vary depending on driving conditions and driving style.
Truck of the Year Finalists
Chevrolet Silverado 1500
The Chevrolet Silverado is one of the best-selling vehicles in America, so when it comes to redesigning such an icon, it’s always a challenge. The full-size truck needed to have enough fresh factors to bring in new customers, while retaining enough of the current model to keep a very large base happy. The new Silverado is longer and wider than its predecessor, which means more passenger space as well as more cargo room. Through an extensive use of mixed materials, engineers were able to lighten Silverado by an impressive 450 pounds. Silverado is available in hundreds of configurations ranging from the basic Work Truck to the luxurious High Country.
GMC Sierra 1500
Like its Silverado sibling, the Sierra is completely new for the 2019 model year. Larger in practically every dimension, the new Sierra boasts a roomier cabin as well as a range of new comfort, convenience and safety features. One of Sierra’s standout features is its MultiPro Tailgate, which offers six positions for easier loading as well as use as a standing work station. The Sierra gets a number of “segment firsts” including a carbon-fiber cargo box, a rearview mirror camera and a multicolor head-up display. A range of engine / transmission options are available, including a new 2.7-liter turbo as well as new turbodiesel powertrain.
The Ram 1500 is without a doubt the most important vehicle in the entire portfolio of parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. For 2019 Ram took on the task of building a new truck that would offer the amenities and features customers are looking for while improving the truck’s capabilities and styling. The Ram 1500’s exterior has been completely redone, but the truck is still easily recognizable — which could be because it says RAM across the grille in large, bold letters. The interior is where the new Ram really shines — it has a roomier cabin with a variety of seating options as well as an available 12-inch touchscreen display. The new Ram 1500 is comfortable and quiet with all sorts of available luxury amenities, but it’s still a truck capable of impressive trucklike tasks. When properly equipped, the Ram can haul 2,300 pounds or tow as much as 12,750 pounds.