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5 Ford Products Make It To Award Program’s Semi-Final Stage

Ford has an embarrassment of riches in the NACTOY award semi-finals this year as five of its most popular truck and SUV models have made it to this plateau.

The North American Car, Utility, And Truck (NACTOY) awards committee has announced the vehicles that are semi-finalists for the prestigious award. Ford has one truck and four SUVs that have made it to the semi-finals.

NACTOY Awards Program Is Unique

Unlike other awards programs, NACTOY is unique. It is an awards program that is decided by experienced automotive journalists who put each vehicle that makes it as far as the semis. Other awards programs, though prestigious, are controlled, for example, by publications. These programs tend to be narrower in both the number of models that they examine and the number of experts that get behind the wheel. These programs have been around for a long time. For example, the Motor Trend “Car of the Year,” “Truck of the Year,” and “SUV of the Year” honors have been around for more than 80 years. The publication chooses the vehicles, vets them, and ultimately uses a jury of its editors to pick the winning vehicle in each category. The same is true of programs like Car and Driver’s “10 Best,” which has been around for more than 50 years, and others. Websites like Kelley Blue Book (KBB), Edmunds, and Cars also have programs. Online publications work much like print media.

NACTOY, on the other hand, was designed with journalists in mind. A panel of 50 noted automotive writers from magazines, online sites, public relations venues, and freelance was set up with each writer having an equal say in the outcome of the vehicle. Each journalist has the chance to drive the cars in his or her category, make detailed notes, and then present them. Those with the best overall scores move ahead. At this moment, there are five pickups in the running, two that are standard trucks, a couple of them heavy-duty, and one, the Ford Ranger, a mid-sized.

Likewise, in the sport-utility realm, eight are still in competition with each other, including four Ford Motor Co products. The Ford products are the Explorer and the Escape, plus the Lincoln versions of the SUV, the Aviator, and the Corsair. The Lincoln SUVs are the corporate cousins of the Explorer and the Escape. About the only difference between them is the skin, which, of course, is different for each Ford division. Beneath the sheetmetal, they are the same vehicles.

An Important Day In Competition

Tuesday is an important day in the NACTOY competition. It is the day when the journalists take the semi-finalists out on the roads around Ann Arbor, Mich., for some real-world testing and evaluation. The evaluations will be carried out over two days when all of the assessments will be collected, tabulated (for the objective part of the program), and reviewed (for the subjective part of the program).

After all of the reviewers have had their chances to drive and evaluate the semi-finalists, the results are seriously debated over the next five or so weeks so that the finalists in the Truck and SUV categories can be announced Nov. 20 at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

After the announcement of the finalists, the judges evaluate the vehicles once again, so the winning choices can be made. Most years, the NACTOY team used the Detroit International Auto Show as the backdrop for the announcement of the winners. This year the winners will be announced elsewhere, perhaps in New York.

Working Journalists Provided With Outlet

The reason the NACTOY awards program began was to allow working journalists, the folks with skin this particular game, to have the chance to weigh in on vehicles. These folks, like the writers here at Torque News, evaluate many cars and trucks every year and present their opinions about the cars. No manufacturer pays us for our work. Our ideas are the result of our work, and we stand behind our evaluations. All of the TN writers have years of automotive experience.

The NACTOY program highlights the best of each year’s new vehicles. The vehicles, as the folks at The Ford Authority note, “are intended to be the benchmarks in their segments, based on innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction, and the value for the dollar.”

At this point, the semi-finalists in the Truck category are:

  • The Ford Ranger
  • The Chevy Silverado
  • The GMC Sierra HD
  • The Jeep Gladiator
  • The RAM HD

Watch for news about the Ford F-Series pickups like the F150 and other Ford trucks like the F250/F350 Super Duty models. You will also receive information about planned changes to the Ford F150 and other trucks. At times, there is also information about Ford’s winning lineup of SUVs. Click To Subscribe To Torque News YouTube Channel For Daily Ford and Automotive Industry News Analysis.

Ford Ranger One Of Truck Semi-Finalists

Note that there are two standard pickups, the Silverado and the Gladiator (a ”new” Jeep entry); two heavy-duty trucks, the RAM, and one mid-sized, the Ford Ranger.
In the SUV category, the semi-finalists are:

  • The Audi e-Tron
  • The Cadillac XT6
  • The Chevy Blazer
  • The Honda Passport
  • The Hyundai Palisade
  • The Kia Telluride
  • The Subaru Outback
  • The Volvo V60 Cross Country

Here are a few notes of interest:

  • The Ford Ranger has been subject to several recalls over the last stretch. The automaker has been forced to deal with front passenger seatbelt problems, and with problems with the shifter.
  • Are These Entries Out Of Place?

  • There are two entries in the SUV segment that seem a bit odd, but, when you look closely at the vehicles’ histories, they make sense. If you look at the particular entries, the Subaru Outback and the Volvo V60 Cross Country with a long view of each marque, you would understand the Outback was one of the vehicles that helped to define the concept of the crossover utility vehicle, one segment of the SUV market. The same is true of the V60 Cross Country. Several years ago, those vehicles were instrumental in the breakout of the CUV and, ultimately, the SUV markets which despite recent slowdowns are still market leaders today.
  • Corporate twins dominate the semi-final entries. Fordhas four, the Explorer, Escape and the Lincoln Aviator and Corsair, while Hyundaihas two, the Kia Telluride and the Hyundai Palisade, both of which are three-seat, eight-passenger SUVs.
  • Sources: The sources for this story include research and comments by the author about the origins of the NACTOY program, as well as comments by The Ford Authority.

    About the author

    Marc Stern has been an auto writer since 1971. It was a position that filled two boyhood dreams: One was that I would write, and two that I write about cars. When I took over as my newspaper’s auto editor, I began a 32-year career as an automotive columnist. There isn’t much on four wheels that I haven’t driven or reviewed. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. Today, I am the Ford F150 reporter for Torque News. I write how-to and help columns for online sites such as and others. You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook