About NACTOY

Awarding excellence ininnovationdesignsafetyperformancetechnologydriver satisfactionvalue

North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year Awards (NACTOY)

Judged by a jury of 50 professional automotive journalists from the United States and Canada who work for and contribute to independent magazines, newspapers, websites, television and radio stations, the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year (NACTOY) Awards honor excellence in innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value. Founded in 1994 by veteran auto journalist Christopher Jensen, they are the longest-running new-vehicle awards not associated with a single publication, website, radio or television station, a structure that produces a diverse base of jurors.

Until the third category for Utility Vehicles was added in 2017 in recognition of the growing popularity of SUVs and car-based “crossover” vehicles (CUVs), these vehicles were included in the Truck category because the U.S. government classifies them as light trucks for regulatory purposes. Passenger-oriented minivans are also judged as Utility Vehicles, while pickup trucks and light- and medium-duty commercial vans are eligible for Truck of the Year.

The process of selecting the Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year begins with a “long list” of all eligible new or substantially changed vehicles for that year, which NACTOY jurors then test and evaluate throughout the year and through three rounds of voting. The first vote occurs in early fall to narrow the list to up to 15 vehicles in each category for additional evaluation, including during an October comparison drive event to which all 50 jurors are invited. The jurors’ votes for Finalists (three per category) and Winners, both submitted to and tallied by Deloitte and Touche in Detroit, occur in December and January, respectively. The Winners are announced in January in partnership with the Detroit North American International Auto Show.

A large replica of the Ed Welburn-designed NACTOY Award listing every winning vehicle in each category has been displayed at Detroit’s TCF Convention Center (formerly Cobo Hall) since 2017, placed there by NACTOY and the Detroit Auto Dealers Association. All past NACTOY finalists and category-winning vehicles are available on the Finalists/Winners page.

North American Car Utility and Truck of the Year awards logos

NACTOY: The Process and the Votes

Voting for the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year occurs in three stages, each of which focuses the jury on a smaller number of vehicles.

Early in the fall, the jurors consider all the new or substantially changed vehicles and pick approximately 10 eligible vehicles from each category (Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle), for additional consideration in a test drive event.

Jurors attend launch programs for each eligible vehicle and/or receive vehicle loans, then test drive them again during a three-day, back-to-back comparison held in October for side-by-side evaluations.

Early in December, the jurors vote on those short-list vehicles, sending their ballots directly to Deloitte & Touche in Detroit.

That vote narrows the field to three cars, three utility vehicles and three trucks. Those finalists are disclosed at a luncheon held by the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.

The final round of voting, also tallied by Deloitte, determines one winner in each of the Car, Truck and Utility categories.

WE’RE INDEPENDENT

The North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards are determined by an independent and diverse group of jurors from all across North America.

WE’RE PASSIONATE

Jurors attend launch programs for each eligible vehicle and/or receive vehicle loans, then test drive them again during a three-day, back-to-back comparison held in October for side-by-side evaluations.

WE’RE UNIQUE

Initiated in 1994, the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards are the longest-running award not associated with a specific publication.