2019 NAIAS: North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year winners announced

2019 Genesis G70 2.0T 20.jpg
2019 Genesis G70 2.0T (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

Amid the bevy of new vehicle reveals and cool car displays, one of the bigger announcements made at the North American International Auto Show concerns the car, utility and truck of the year.

There is a panel of 54 journalists from the U.S. and Canada who evaluate vehicles that are all-new or significantly refreshed for a given model year. The journalists identify finalists based on segment leadership, innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.

This year’s finalists heading into the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) awards were:


  • Genesis G70
  • Honda Insight
  • Volvo S60/V60


  • Acura RDX
  • Hyundai Kona/Kona EV
  • Jaguar I-Pace


  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • GMC Sierra 1500
  • Ram 1500

The winners are Genesis G70, Hyundai Kona and Ram 1500.

Heading into the announcement, automotive pundits pegged Ram and Genesis as the heavy favorites to win their respective categories, but the Hyundai Kona was the dark horse of the competition. It was likely the EV model, however, that pushed Kona over the top.

“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.”

The NACTOY awards are now in their 25th year and are typically announced at the Detroit auto show in January.

No information has been released on when future announcements will take place as the Detroit show moves to June in 2020.

We were lucky enough to drive all the winners, so here’s a quick look at the G70, Kona and 1500:

2019 Genesis G70

Genesis as a brand is only 2 years old. And that’s a tough mountain to climb. But it has created handsome and feature-laden products priced to compete in the luxury sedan segment.

In a brand-conscious world, however, this might be a tough sell. A comparably equipped G70 will likely be about $5K less than a BMW 3-Series, Lexus ES, Audi A4 and Cadillac ATS. But it’s not backed by a brand with cachet.

But maybe it doesn’t need to be. When you have designers from Bugatti, Lamborghini and Bentley, you can probably create your own cachet.

Read the full review.

2019 Hyundai Kona/Kona EV

Kona is a nice value proposition – and as Hyundai pointed out during the press briefing, this is one of the primary reasons someone will buy a vehicle in this segment.

I love the keep-it-simple-silly philosophy of trims, making it easy for you to create the vehicle you want – and then get it.

Read the full review.

2019 Ram 1500

Ram has done a really nice job with its 15th-generation pickup truck. It’s chockfull of clever features, high-level technology and impressive capability.

The folks at Ram have been calling this all-new 1500 a “no compromises” truck since it’s reveal last year in Detroit, and after time behind the wheel, I believe them.

Read the full review.