When studying information about any car, you probably paid attention to its awards list. It may contain many different prizes, but not all are status-bearing and demonstrate the attractiveness of a particular model. However, if you find the North American Car of the Year award among the awards or simply NACTOY, then pay more attention to the car that received it. If you want to know why this award is so prestigious and which vehicles were able to receive it, then immediately start reading our article.

What is «North American Car of the Year»?

If in world cinema, there is a well-known Oscar award; then in the automotive industry, its analog is the “North American Car of the Year”. This award is the most prestigious in the world, so all the best automakers strive to receive it. It has been awarded annually since 1994, and the procedure for announcing the winners has become one of the most anticipated events. From its inception until 2017, the NACTOY prize was awarded in only two categories (“Car” and “Truck”). Since 2018, a third nomination, “Utility Vehicle,” has been added.

The best model of the year is selected by secret ballot. It is attended by 50 professional journalists from Canada and the USA, representing high-profile automobile magazines, websites, television channels and radio stations. As evaluation criteria, various parameters and characteristics of cars are used, as well as their design, equipment with modern technological innovations, degree of safety, popularity among drivers and loyalty to the traditions of their brand.

The selection of nominees is carried out through a detailed study of new automotive products of the year and models that were produced earlier but significantly changed by the manufacturer. The jury members select the worthiest among the many applicants who participate in the final voting. According to existing tradition, it is held at the end of the reporting year. This is followed by counting votes, after which the winners are announced in January of the following year. This takes place at a special ceremony, which, for many, is the main event associated with the global automotive industry.

The most famous winners in the history of the competition

The history of NACTOY goes back three decades, during which various legendary cars took the main prize in this competition. Many of them have long been outdated and have been discontinued. However, even today, they remain popular and status vehicles. Look at the most famous winning models of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The best models of the 20th century

Of course, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class should be noted among the many models that won the NACTOY competition. This car took a leading place in 1994 and became the first winner of the status award. It was a full-fledged replacement for the popular 190 model, which was already outdated by then. The 1994 Mercedes-Benz C-Class had a gasoline engine and a 5-speed manual transmission (automatics were installed on cars sold in the USA). Safety elements included standard airbags, built-in side impact protection and the traditional anti-lock braking system for all Mercedes models.

In 1997, the winner in the Truck category was the Ford Expedition. This full-size SUV had rear-wheel drive, a 4.6-5.4 liter eight-cylinder engine and a 4-speed automatic transmission, which made driving as easy as possible. At that time, it was considered a proper reliability standard and did not experience any safety problems. Standard airbags, an anti-lock braking system, side door beams, and three-point seat belts provided the latter. Like all SUVs, the Expedition had a high ground clearance, making it an ideal vehicle for traveling on any surface.

The last winner of the 20th century in the Truck category was the famous Jeep Grand Cherokee. This all-wheel-drive American SUV was produced in 1999 with a gasoline or diesel engine, a 4-5-speed automatic transmission, and an improved braking system. It was much more fuel efficient than all its predecessors, without losing efficiency on the road. Among the positive aspects of the Grand Cherokee, we should highlight a spacious interior, in which the developers allocate more space for rear passengers. This further increased the comfort level and made this model one of the most suitable for long trips.

The best models of the 21st century

One of the most popular cars of its time was the Honda Civic. He received his prize from NACTOY in 2006. This model belonged to the VIII generation of Civic, which many call one of the most successful. The car was produced with two and four doors. First of all, it was distinguished by increased comfort, thanks to which it became so popular. The 2006 model was equipped with a 1.8-liter engine, which, after updating, was made even more economical than its predecessors. In addition, the car was supplemented with various protective elements, which made it one of the safest hatchbacks.

In the 21st century, there have been only a few models that have been able to win the North American Car of the Year award more than once. The most popular among them was the Chevrolet Silverado. This car has won the top prize twice in 2007 and 2014. The older version belonged to the II generation Silverado. Its stylish appearance distinguished it, as did the presence of powerful 4.3-6 liter engines and economical fuel consumption. The new Silverado model (2014) was classified as the third generation of these SUVs. It has even more powerful gasoline engines (up to 6.2 liters), a 6-speed automatic transmission, and the most durable steel frame, which helps protect the driver and passengers from injury during accidents. Over the years, the production of different versions of this model has been quite active, so today, you can buy not only a new one but also a used or wrecked Chevy Silverado.

One of the discoveries of 2020 was the Jeep Gladiator mid-size pickup truck. This all-wheel drive vehicle, which looks like a Wrangler JL, was available with a gasoline (3.6 liter) engine. When receiving the prize, it was equipped with a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission and numerous safety features. The latter turned the Gladiator into one of the safest pickup trucks of its time. The interior of this car was made in the style of the Wrangler JL. At the same time, several new features appeared that allowed the Gladiator to go far ahead in terms of comfort.

Winners 2024

In January 2024, a long-awaited event took place, where three models from famous automakers were awarded the North American Car of the Year awards. Due to the 30th anniversary of the competition, the final results had to wait for six months. In July 2023, 52 contenders were announced, from which the least attractive cars were gradually eliminated. So in September, were 25 nominees left, and in November, only 9. Finally, on January 4, 2024, at a ceremony held in the state of Michigan, the laureates of the year were named.

In the Car category, the Toyota Prius (known as the Prius Prime in North America) took the lead. This compact hybrid model was a real discovery, as the manufacturers combined almost all the best that Toyota has in it. The main advantage of this car is its efficiency. One gallon of fuel will give it a range of up to 50 miles, and the battery will last 40 miles. At the same time, Prius is also one of the most environmentally friendly vehicles of our time. Add to this an elegant appearance, high safety, and ease of operation, and you will get a car that is difficult to find today.

In the Truck category, the Ford Super Duty was the best. It achieved this result due to its outstanding characteristics, which most other heavy-duty pickup trucks do not have. This car has four engine options (petrol and diesel), which allows everyone to choose the best one. Other features of the Super Duty include its versatility, spacious body, and good towing properties. Despite its dimensions, this model remains easy to drive, so even a beginner can confidently hold the car on any road without any problems.

The winner in the Utility Vehicle category was the Kia EV9. This electric SUV is a shining example of the right combination of eco-friendliness and practicality. Its stylish appearance and interior are designed so that even the most demanding passenger will feel as comfortable as possible. Of course, the EV9 cannot do without modern safety systems that minimize the risk of injury during an accident. A bonus from the developers was a huge trunk, which will appeal to travel enthusiasts.

North American Car of the Year is rightfully considered one of the most prestigious awards in the world. It goes only to the best of the best, who could stand out from other applicants and pleasantly surprise the competent jury. The models that receive the main prize automatically become part of the history of the global automotive industry and take an honorable place in the list of the best cars.