New F-150, Cadillac Escalade semifinalists for year’s top auto awards

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Korean automaking giant Hyundai Kia placed a whopping seven vehicles among the semifinalists competing for 2021 North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year titles, nearly double the total for the next two automakers.

Ford and General Motors each scored four spots among the 27 semifinalists for the auto industry’s most hotly competitive awards. No other automaker scored more than two spots on the list. Fiat Chrysler, smallest member of the Detroit Three, landed two pickups on the list.

Three finalists for each of the awards are scheduled to be announced Dec. 17. The winners will be revealed Jan. 11.

The most anticipated vehicles made the list, including traditional leaders like the 2021 Cadillac Escalade, Ford F-150 and Nissan Rogue. But newcomers like the Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV, Chevrolet Trailblazer compact SUV and Genesis GV80 luxury SUV are well represented.

I’m one of the jurors for the award, and I was surprised new versions of a pair of traditional sales leaders didn’t didn’t make the list. The Toyota Sienna minivan and Highlander three-row SUV, both entirely new this year and favorites with American buyers, fell short.

A pair of attractively priced and equipped small SUVs also failed to make the list: the Buick Encore GX and Hyundai Venue.

Hyundai Kia’s rich haul included two vehicles from the company’s new Genesis luxury brand, the GV80 SUV and G80 sport sedan. Other semifinalists from the Korean automaker are the Hyundai Elantra and Santa Fe and Kia K5, Seltos and Sorento.

Ford’s semifinalists:

  • Bronco Sport small SUV
  • F-150 pickup
  • F-series Super Duty pickup
  • Mustang Mach-E electric SUV

GM semifinalists:

  • Cadillac CT4 and CT4-V sport sedans
  • Cadillac Escalade
  • Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban SUV
  • Chevrolet Trailblazer small SUV

Fiat Chrysler, smallest of the Detroit Three, landed two pickups on the list:

  • Ram 1500 TRX performance pickup
  • Jeep Gladiator Mojave off-roader

The North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year awards, commonly known as NACTOY, are presented annually by a jury of about 50 automotive writers from across Canada and the United States. Criteria include value, innovation, technology design, safety and performance.

The full list of semifinalists:

Car of the Year

Acura TLX

Cadillac CT4/CT4-V

Genesis G80

Hyundai Elantra family (includes N Line and HEV)

Kia K5

Mercedes-Benz E Class Sedan, All-Terrain, Coupe, Cabriolet

Nissan Sentra

Polestar 2

Utility of the Year

Cadillac Escalade

Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban

Chevrolet Trailblazer

Ford Bronco Sport

Ford Mustang Mach E

Genesis GV80

Hyundai Santa Fe

Kia Seltos

Kia Sorento

Land Rover Defender

Mazda CX-30

Nissan Rogue

Toyota RAV4 Prime

Toyota Venza

Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge

Truck of the Year

Ford Super Duty

Ford F-150

Ram 1500 TRX

Jeep Gladiator Mojave

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