The 2012 North American Car and Truck of the Years are determined by a jury of 50 automotive writers from various newspapers, websites, publications and broadcast outlets. Last year, the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Explorer were honored as North American Car and Truck respectively. The winners will be announced at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.
“Every year, the awards’ jurors insist that selecting the winners is more difficult than in years past,” said NACTOY juror and Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs in a news release shared with TorqueNews. “But this year was especially challenging because the car category is dominated by small cars, and the truck category did not have a single ‘real’ truck.”
The jurors didn't have as hard a time whittling down the truck list to three because only 7 were eligible for the award, which requires that the vehicles are either all-new or substantially upgraded for the 2012 model year.
The early favorite for North American Truck of the Year would have to be the 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. Sentiments have been largely favorable for this Land Rover, which does resemble a Ford Explorer in some ways, but has been hailed for its off-road and on-road capabilities.
There is no early favorite for North American Car of the Year because there is no standout among the three. The Hyundai Sonata was a finalist last year but came in third, which could make the jurors sympathetic to the Elantra. The Ford Focus might get the nod because of its fuel efficiency but it has won the award in the past. This would be the first dual winner since 2000. The Volkswagen Passat is a great finalist, too, but there still lingers concerns about Volkswagen's mechanical reliability and that could hurt the Passat's chances.
This is the 19th year of the awards. During the past 18 years:
* Domestic automakers have won North American Car of the Year ten times. European automakers have won four times, Japanese automakers have won three times. A Korean automaker – Hyundai - has won once.
* Domestic automakers have won North American Truck of the Year 12 times. Japanese automakers have won four times. European automakers have won twice.
The awards are administered by a six-person organizing committee. This year its members are Karl Brauer (Total Car Score); Marc Lachapelle (MSN Autos US, Le Guide de l'auto); Tony Swan (Car and Driver); Lindsay Brooke (Automotive Engineering International); Mark Phelan (The Detroit Free Press) and Christopher Jensen (Freelance).
More information including the names of the jurors is available at www.northamericancaroftheyear.org.