After hundreds of hours of test drives, research and evaluation by independent jurors, the Ram 1500, Genesis G70, and Hyundai Kona/Kona EV were revealed as the winners of the 2019 North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) awards presented today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Chosen by a panel of 54 respected jurors from print, online, radio and broadcast media across the U.S. and Canada – rather than a single publication or media outlet – the awards are among the most prestigious and unique in the industry.
Jurors voted on the finalists based on segment leadership, innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar. The process began in June 2018 by determining vehicle eligibility and included three rounds of voting.
Votes were tallied confidentially by Deloitte LLP and remained secret until envelopes were unsealed on stage by NACTOY officers: President Lauren Fix, Vice President Chris Paukert and Secretary-Treasurer Kirk Bell at Cobo Center in Detroit.
“We want to thank every automaker for taking the time and effort to work with us throughout the year as our jurors rigorously tested, evaluated and debated the best new vehicles on the market,” Fix said. “Now in our 25th year, we are proud that both automakers and consumers recognize the value our awards provide to new car buyers.”
2019 Truck of the Year: Ram 1500
“The newest Ram continues to move the light truck segment forward,” states Focus Daily News writer and NACTOY juror Sue Mead. “It’s no surprise that it has won numerous awards and deserved the NACTOY tap for its top ride and handling, technology prowess and the all-new eTorque version that improves fuel economy for everyday motoring and towing.” The Ram has already been voted Truck of the Year by the Auto Judge jury and Truck of Texas by attendees at the Texas Truck Rodeo.
“The Ram 1500 is an important product for FCA and winning this award is one of the highest honors,” said Reid Bigland, Head of Ram Brand. “In what is arguably the most competitive segment in the automotive industry, for the all-new 2019 Ram 1500 to be named North American Truck of the Year is tremendous recognition of the FCA employees who design, engineer and build a pickup that truly stands out.” Ram is a repeat winner of the Truck of the Year honors at NACTOY, having also won in 2013.
“Ram continues to lead the way in making a big truck double as a big family pleaser with as much attention paid to interior conveniences and ride comfort as to cargo hauling and towing,” said John Davis, executive producer at MotorWeek.
2019 Car of the Year: Genesis G70
This year’s car category was extremely competitive. Some jurors said the unique features, technological advancements and innovative designs of the three finalists made any of them worthy winners. When the ballots were counted, though, jurors selected Genesis G70 as the car that stood out among its competition.
“The Genesis G70 is a game changer for the sedan market,” said Lauren Fix, NACTOY President. “G70 offers a sophisticated, impressive vehicle that delivers an inspired driving experience, safety and technology at a reasonable price.”
Focus Daily News writer and NACTOY juror, Sue Mead, says of the G70: “The 2019 Genesis G70 was a standout this year in the car category for the NACTOY award. This midsized luxury sedan is priced starting at $34,900 comes with two engine choices, rear-wheel-drive and AWD models, sport trims that bring zest, and a cadre of smart technologies.”
“At Genesis, our brand and products must perfectly match our customers’ lifestyles, mindsets and desires,” said Manfred Fitzgerald, Executive Vice President and Global Head of the Genesis Brand. “This award is a testament to the G70, which combines luxury with sports-focused elegance. And now, for the entire Genesis brand, I’d like to thank the North American Car of the Year jury for taking the time to see and experience our design and engineering teams’ intent.”
“For a still-young brand, winning this highly prestigious award, as well as the other significant awards the G70 has collected, will certainly give Genesis a presence boost in the marketplace,” said Erwin Raphael, Executive Director, Genesis Motor America. “We’re thrilled to give more people the opportunity to get behind the wheel and experience the compelling qualities and capabilities the expert NACTOY jurors voted for.”
“The Genesis G70 doesn’t just go toe-to-toe with segment mainstays like the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class – it beats them all in driver engagement while positively slaying them on value for the dollar,” said Chris Paukert, who is also executive editor of Roadshow by CNET. “No longer just a value play, it’s the real deal.”
Utility Vehicle of the Year: Hyundai Kona
The fierce competition among finalists in the utility category reflects the segment’s increasing popularity among U.S. consumers. Jurors selected the Hyundai Kona and Kona Electric atop the other 20 models eligible in the category this year.
Sue Mead noted: “Hyundai’s all-new Kona delivers big talent in a small package. It was an easy pick for many NACTOY jurors because of its capable 2WD and 4WD variants, but also for the Kona EV electric model that has livable range and great drive dynamics.”
“We couldn’t be more proud of our innovative new Kona and Kona Electric crossover winning the prestigious North American Utility Vehicle of the Year,” said Brian Smith, chief operating officer, Hyundai Motor America. “Kona is an affordable, stylish and functional compact CUV, tailored to the needs of customers who pursue active lifestyles of all kinds. It’s setting new standards for its segment, with appealing design, cutting-edge connectivity and class-leading available safety features. We know our customers are going to agree with the top media confirming this impressive award.”
“The Kona Electric is the first mass-market electric car that truly works for the mass market,” said Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor at U.S. News & World Report Best Cars. “A livable EV range, affordable price and practical cabin combine with lively driving dynamics to make the Kona EV a true pleasure. It’s the kind of EV that could convince the most ardent EV-skeptic.”
“As the industry’s cars, trucks and utility vehicles continue to get better and better, automakers are unwittingly making our deliberations as jurors tougher and tougher. Fortunately, the end results are more rewarding, both for us as journalists and as consumers,” Paukert said.
While the awards are announced at the North American International Auto Show, these prizes are independent of the show itself. NACTOY is a separate, non-profit organization, with dues-paying journalist members led by elected officers.