Juror Comments & Voting Totals – 2021 North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year

Jack Nerad (Vice President) , Gary Witzenburg (President) and Jeff Gilbert (Treasurer)


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2021 North American Car of the Year:

Hyundai Elantra -176

Genesis G80 – 173

Nissan Sentra – 151


2021 North America Truck of the Year:

Ford F-150 – 340

Ram TRX – 130

Jeep Gladiator Mojave – 30


2021 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year:

Ford Mustang Mach E – 265

Genesis GV80 – 136

Land Rover Defender – 99





“The latest iteration in a long series of truly excellent small sedans, the Elantra is understated yet impressive.” — Ken Gross

“It is refreshing to see an automaker so committed to the sedan segment that at launch they offer such a wide variety of models as is in the Hyundai Elantra family. Hyundai did not do the drip-drip of the model variants over a longer term as is typical for the class.” — John Davis

“The Elantra presents an exceptional blend of left-brain and right-brain attributes. It sets high standards in objective virtues such as roominess, fuel economy, safety features, and value. Yet it’s also really good to drive — effortless and confidence-inspiring for those who just want a painless way to get from A to B, but also responsive and engaging for enthusiastic drivers.” — Jeremy Sinek

“While some car brands have all but abandoned the sedan, Hyundai has doubled down with an all-new, content-rich 2021 Elantra featuring head-turning design, outstanding fuel economy, an exciting new N-Line performance series and the small Hyundai’s first-ever hybrid variant.” — Ron Sessions

“With its comprehensive Elantra line running from performance N-line to hybrid, Hyundai steps up to give King Honda a run in the compact sedan segment. Loaded with tech, the handsome Elantra and Sentra are proof you can have it all in a $25k car.” — Henry Payne



“While compact cars have been getting really good over the years, it is clear that Nissan decided that good needed to be brought up a notch, as they created a car that doesn’t merely check the boxes, but creates some new ones for the competitors to catch up to.” — Gary Vasilash

“Remarkably poised, delightfully agile, surprisingly stylish and a tremendous value, the Sentra lives up to its TV commercial hype.” — Ken Gross

“The new 2021 Sentra is just-in-time arrival. This is a compact car with attractive styling and premium treatments that feel a class, or two, above its competitive set.” — Karl Brauer

“The surprise of the year, analogous to the fairy tale of the frog that turned into a prince after being kissed, in this case by the Nissan designers and engineers. This new Sentra stands out as a desirable, roomy, well-performing compact sedan that bunches of people can afford to buy and operate. Moreover, it has the bones to attract customers who could easily buy something more expensive.” — Frank A. Aukofer, DriveWays

“The Nissan Sentra offers great fit and finish, and performance isn’t hampered by the CVT, which is as smooth as a conventional automatic transmission. Superb styling.” — Brian Armstead



“The new G80 has the right mix of advanced technology, appealing style, and engaging performance. While it’s still a young brand, the quality of products like the 2021 G80 are already delivering impressive sales and market share for Genesis.” — Karl Brauer

“The design of the Genesis G80 is quite unique, and the interior is spectacular. You can add a choice of engine and many innovative mechanical features.” — Denis Duquet

“Two years ago, the G80’s smaller G70 sibling won North American Car of the Year. The G80 proves it wasn’t a fluke. This luxury sedan has the same mix of sophisticated design, elegant interior, and competitive performance, but in a more popular mid-size package that should strike fear into the hearts of all the current luxury contenders. It might win on value alone if it weren’t so good, but this and the GV80 crossover make Genesis THE luxury brand to watch over the next few years.” — John Voelcker


FORD F-150

“With each new generation of the F-150, the Ford brand has raised the bar on innovations as to what we should expect from a market leader. The latest redesign, with serious on-board power generation, along with the forthcoming EV variant, shows Ford is not only committed to staying at the top of the truck game, but boldly taking their best-selling icon into a greener future.” — John Davis

“For the everyday worker, or for those who prefer pickups as their main mode of transportation, the new F-150 is hard to beat. Choose your box, trim and drivetrain, and you are set for many miles of happy motoring.” — Brian Armstead

“The F-Series is Ford’s crown jewel, not to mention the highest-selling vehicle lineup in the U.S. for 40 years. The latest version refines the package, keeping what’s good, updating as needed, and delivering the right mix of features, capabilities, comfort, and style—with the added benefit of the first hybrid powertrain in almost a decade to debut in a full-size pickup truck.” — John Voelcker

“There’s a reason the ever-improving F-150 has been its class winner for decades, and this latest version simply proves the point.” — Ken Gross

“Not only has this best-seller been refreshed esthetically and updated mechanically, but the Ford F-150 also offers a hybrid version, which is a quantum leap for the category.” — Denis Duquet


RAM 1500 TRX

“When the marketing guys refer to this as the ‘alpha predator,’ an eye-roll isn’t out of the question. But when you hit the start button, tip in the throttle, and feel the response of the 702 horsepower and realize that not only can you go blindingly fast, but do it when the road ends. . .well, that’s when all doubt disappears. This really is a monster.” — Gary Vasilash

“Nothing comes close to the performance of the RAM 1500 TRX in the pickup category. RAM engineers put in the work to ensure this monster is as capable on-road as it is on the dragstrip or around sand dunes.” — Brian Armstead



“The Mustang Mach-E leapfrogs European EVs as the Tesla Model Y’s most formidable challenger yet. Like Tesla, Mach-E understands that the premium EV market is as much about interior tech as it is about torque.” — Henry Payne

“If you think a Mustang has to have a long hood, a short deck, and a honking V-8, Ford wants you to think differently. The Mustang Mach-E is Ford’s sporty answer to boring electric cars.” — Ken Gross

“While an all-electric SUV is hardly new, to take Mustang, one of the world’s most recognizable nameplates; one known for carefree living and higher performance, and use it as the launching pad for an EV utility shows both insight and pure guts. While Ford could have called the Mustang Mach-E by any name, they wanted to make it stand out from the flood of current and upcoming rivals. What better way than making it a part of an iconic family of cars that stretch back almost 60 years. Further, Ford has installed the Mach-E with competent handling, braking, and of course acceleration, that fits the name. It is a totally useful total performer.” — John Davis

“It may be a Mustang in name and taillights only, but the Ford Mustang Mach-E is a significant step forward for Ford.” — Steven Cole Smith



“Right out of the box, the GV80 lands on must-drive lists for its looks, stunning interior, and carefully chosen features, all at prices that make German, British, and other Asian makers’ luxury crossovers look dowdy, outdated, and overpriced.” — John Voelcker

“This all-new entry from the five-year-old luxury brand from South Korea’s Hyundai stands out for innovation, value, and quality. The G80 sedan was a strong contender for Car of the Year, and the GV80, as a crossover SUV, has even stronger credentials. It is competitively priced in the luxury crossover class with all the safety, driving and convenience features sought by customers in this category.” — Frank A. Aukofer, DriveWays

“The new Genesis GV80 manages to stand out in the crowded, and extremely competitive, midsize luxury SUV field. It accomplishes this with attractive exterior styling complemented by a plush cabin and sumptuous, yet engaging, driving dynamics.” — Karl Brauer



“The Land Rover Defender is a ute with the pedigree and performance that makes it a stand-out. Among a category full of comparative homogenization, the Defender is distinctive.” — Gary Vasilash

“The Land Rover Defender is the modern version of a legendary radical off-road SUV. This new one is more sophisticated but retains all of the off-road capacities of the previous generation and more. The design, inside and out, is impressive.” — Denis Duquet



“Having been on the NACTOY jury for two decades I cannot recall a year when the finalists all were so deserving. With the exception of just one product among the nine, I would be fine with any of them winning. While all three categories posed tough choices this year, that was particularly true among utility vehicles of the year. All three would likely have won were they to have come up in some other year.” — Paul Eisenstein