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North American Car, Truck, and SUV of the Year: Civic, Maverick, Bronco

January 11, 2022

Detroit — The envelope, please. . . .

Ford dominated the North American Car, Truck, and SUV of the Year awards Tuesday. The wildly-popular Bronco won SUV as expected while the Maverick overcame formidable competition from the electric Rivian R1T and Hyundai Santa Fe to win best truck.

The Honda Civic rounded out the awards as best car, defeating the battery-powered Lucid Air and Volkswagen Golf GTI/Golf R hot hatch.

The winners were announced at Huntington Place (the former Cobo Center) in Detroit. Rod Alberts of the North American International Auto Show introduced the awards that once coincided with the Detroit Auto Show. After a three-year hiatus, Alberts confirmed the show will return this fall, Sept. 14-25, at Huntington Place.

The six NACTOY finalists were whittled from an initial list of 36 eligible cars, trucks and utility vehicles for the 2022 model year. The finalists tracked trends in the industry as consumers have moved from cars to SUVs and embraced the off-road lifestyle. Following the success of electric automaker Tesla — and under pressure from the most onerous federal regulations in 60 years — manufacturers are also flooding the market with new EVs.

“2021 has been a highly significant year in automotive history,” said NACTOY President Gary Witzenburg. “We have seen the emergence of new vehicle segments and impressive redesigns of familiar models. Meanwhile, a number of all-new, EV start-up manufacturers are proving they are capable of competing with established automakers even with their first product offerings.”

Sedans have fallen out of favor in the American market with Detroit brands like Ford and Dodge exiting the sedan market completely. But cars are still key volume segments for foreign makers and icons like the Civic and and Golf boast near luxury-grade electronics tech to go with their whip-quick handling. Startup makers like Lucid see opportunities to establish themselves in the EV market with beautiful, halo sedans.

“The new Civic shows Honda at its very best. Bulletproof, brilliantly engineered and fun-to-drive, the Civic is the kind of affordable car that every automaker should aspire to,” said juror Lawrence Ulrich.

The Maverick took the truck crown over the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Rivian R1T in a category traditionally dominated by Detroit Three big pickups. But 202 was a year for innovation with the Maverick and Santa Cruz introducing segment-busting truck based — not on ladder frames — but on unibody SUV platforms. The daring Rivian R1T pickup is the first in a wave of electric pickups coming to market, beating EVs from established makers like Ford and Chevy.