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North American Car Of The Year Finalists Announced: Lucid Air Makes The List

Lucid's Air faces stiff competition in its category but could be the first EV to bring home North American Car of the Year.

The finalists have been announced for the 2022 edition of NACTOY at the Los Angeles Auto Show with battery-electric vehicles present in each category's final three for the first time in the awards' 28-year history.

How The Judging Works
The awards are presented to one car, one truck, and one crossover (AKA 'Utility') each year with the panel of 50 judges made up of journalists from all branches of the automotive media. Entry is open to all new or significantly updated vehicles with each judged for its innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value. The judges vote each category down to 15 entries before an in-person comparison test takes place in October.

From there the shortlist gets cut down to three vehicles per segment before the winners are announced in January of the following year. This year the voting to determine the overall winners will take place from December 30th 2021 until January 5th 2022. The awards ceremony usually takes place on the opening media day of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, though dates and formats for this year's show are yet to be announced.

The Finalists 2022
This year's Car of the Year award is a case of revolution vs. evolution, as the Lucid Air takes on the revamped Honda Civic and Mk VIII VW Golf GTI/R. Both the Lucid's challengers come from generations of development, but the Air's huge range and technical innovation could nose it ahead in the voting. If I were a gamblin' man I'd be putting my money on the headline-generating, range anxiety-obliterating Lucid Air for this one. If EVs are indeed the future, the Air brings us closer to it than a new Civic or Golf. Should the Air take the COTY title it'll be the the first electric winner of the car category and the third EV to take top honors after the Ford Mustang Mach E and Hyundai Kona EV.

The Truck of the Year contest sees the unibody designs of the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz up against the Rivian R1T. Both of the conventionally-powered finalists have received good reviews but the Rivian is generating a lot of positive buzz as it forges a new path as the first serious EV truck to go on sale with its off-road focus and fun-over-work approach to the pickup.

Image showing a dark blue Rivian R1T clambering over some rocks with a rooftop tent attached on top of the bed.

Finally there's the Utility Vehicle of the Year which pits the much-loved Ford Bronco against the luxurious Genesis GV70 and the all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5. All three of the Utility finalists come from different walks of life and set out to achieve different things, so it'll be interesting to see which way the judges vote but I'd hazard a guess at the revived Bronco for winner of this one.

Image shows a gray four-door Ford Bronco off-roading in rocky terrain

Who do you think the winners will be when they're announced in early January? Could it be an all-EV sweep, or will the established ICE players hang on for a few years yet? Let us know in the comments below!

Images from Lucid, Rivian, and Ford licensed under CC BY 2.0.

James Walker is an automotive journalist at Torque News focusing on Lucid Motors electric vehicles. If it's got wheels he's interested in it, and he's very excited to see what kind of driver's/performance cars the EV revolution brings us. Whether it's fast, slow, new, or old, James wants to have a look around it and share it in print and on video, ideally with some twisty roads or a track involved. You can connect with James on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.