NACTOY finalists a mix of new blood, old faves

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

Los Angeles — A diverse mix of rookie and veteran nameplates lead the field of nominees for the 2017 North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year.

The Chevy Bolt, Genesis G90 and Volvo S90 will vie for best car. Best truck nominees are the Ford F-Series Super Duty, Honda Ridgeline and Nissan Titan. And either the Chrysler Pacifica, Jaguar F-Pace, or Mazda CX-9 will be crowned utility of the year — the first time that SUVs have been honored as a separate category.

The finalists were announced Tuesday morning at the Automobility LA conference, which kicks off the Los Angeles Auto Show. The 23rd annual NACTOY winners will be announced Jan. 9 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The three finalists were winnowed from a list of 44 semifinalists by some 60 automotive journalists who have tested, analyzed, and buggy-whipped the nominees over the past year.

The Bolt will be front-runner for car of the year as the first electric vehicle under $40,000 to travel more than 200 miles on a single charge. It will be challenged by two luxury badges that are also celebrating their freshman year in the market. The G90 is the flagship for Hyundai’s new Genesis luxury line, while the lovely S90 hopes to follow in the footsteps of its sibling XC90, which won 2016 truck of the year.

Speaking of trucks, the legendary Ford F-series pickup will try and add to its stuffed trophy case with the 2017 F-250 Super Duty, the latest, largest version of the F-series’ revolutionary, all-aluminum body construction. The pickup was previously honored as best truck in 1996, 2004, 2009, and 2015. Its competitors this year also are veterans of the pickup wars. The mid-size Honda Ridgeline is the second evolution of Honda’s unique, unibody chassis structure. And the Nissan Titan follows big brother XD — a finalist for 2016 truck — in trying to put a dent in Detroit Three dominance of the trucking arena.

In the utility space, Chrysler has reinvented the minivan with its sleek, multi-functional Pacifica. The Pacifica replaces the Town & Country — itself a trend-setter in the segment. The F-Pace is Jaguar’s entry in the hot luxury ute race with three engine choices and head-turning British style. But even England’s pride has to be impressed by Mazda’s three-row CX-9 SUV, perhaps the prettiest utility in the land.

Founded in 1994, NACTOY is the only independent auto award made up of journalists from a wide range of outlets. The award honors excellence in innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value.

For more information, go to: http://northamericancaroftheyear.org/

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

■ Chevrolet Bolt

■ Genesis G90

■■ Volvo S90

■■ Ford F-series Super Duty

■■ Honda Ridgeline

■■ Nissan Titan

■■ Chrysler Pacifica

■■ Jaguar F-Pace

■■ Mazda CX-9

2017 NACTOY finalists

Car

■ Chevrolet Bolt

■ Genesis G90

■■ Volvo S90

Truck

■■ Ford F-series Super Duty

■■ Honda Ridgeline

■■ Nissan Titan

Utility

■■ Chrysler Pacifica

■■ Jaguar F-Pace

■■ Mazda CX-9