Jurors for the North American Car of the Year (NACTOY) commission chose the Chevrolet Bolt, Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Ridgeline as its 2017 award winners. Each model beat two other category finalists in claiming this year’s awards, which were announced just ahead of the start of the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The Chevy Bolt won the car category, the Chrysler Pacifica finished on top in the all-new utility category, while the Honda Ridgeline was named truck of the year. Juror and acclaimed industry designer Ed Welburn, who recently retired from his position as General Motors’ Vice President of Global Design, fashioned the new trophies. The pool of NACTOY judges includes automotive journalists from across the United States and Canada.
Car of the Year: Chevrolet Bolt
For the first time in the 17-year history of NACTOY, an electric car was nominated. The Chevrolet Bolt, which is a compact EV with a 238-mile range, easily won the Car of the Year award.
The Bolt began rolling out to limited markets in December and once production is ramped up, it is slated to become the first mass-produced electric vehicle in the world. Chevrolet offers the Bolt in two trim levels, an EV priced from $37,495 to $41,780 (plus $875 for destination). In addition to a federal tax credit, buyers may find special incentives at the state and local levels.
The Bolt scored 364 points, followed by the Genesis G90 sedan with 105 and the Volvo S90 with 101 points.
Utility Vehicle of the Year: Chrysler Pacifica
Recognizing the growing importance of more practical vehicles, the commission added a Utility Vehicle of the Year award category to include SUVs and minivans. Chrysler, which launched the current wave of people movers in the 1980s with the Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan minivans, finished ahead of two SUVs to win the inaugural award.
The all-new Pacifica has been recognized for an improved powertrain, advanced technologies and its praiseworthy stow ’n go seating. A plug-in hybrid variant is also available, offering 35 miles of electric-only driving. The Pacifica is available in five trims and is priced from $28,595 to $42,495 (plus $995 for destination). The Pacifica Hybrid is available in two trims and costs $41,995 or $44,995 (plus $1,095 for destination). Notably, the Pacifica line offers the first hybrid in the minivan segment.
Truck of the Year: Honda Ridgeline
After a two-year hiatus, the four-door Honda Ridgeline pickup truck has returned to the market. As before, Honda went with a car-based platform to develop the current model. The new vehicle seats five and shares its underpinnings with the 2017 Honda Odyssey and Pilot, winning praise for its utility, payload and towing capabilities, and its comfortable ride.
Honda’s Ridgeline has even silenced naysayers with its available all-wheel drive system, which offers great traction on wet roads and helps this vehicle tackle light-duty off-road conditions. The 2017 Ridgeline is available in five trims and is priced from $29,475 to $35,930 (plus $940 for destination).
The Ridgeline scored 364 points, followed by the Ford Super Duty with 193 and the Nissan Titan with 72 points. The Super Duty appeared to have the best shot of winning, but the Ridgeline was not to be denied.
2017 NACTOY Awards
The annual NACTOY awards honor excellence in innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value. Approximately 60 journalists representing a variety of outlets participate. Eligible models are identified in the preceding summer and include all-new and revised vehicles for the upcoming model year. The list is then whittled to no more than three entrants in each category with the finalists announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Lastly, voting is held sometime before the start of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.