The North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards were announced on Wednesday. The awards were traditionally given out during the North American International Auto Show, but since that has moved to fall, the announcements were made at the M1 Concourse racetrack in Pontiac, Michigan.
Truck of the Year was won by the electric Ford F-150 Lightning. Car of the Year went to the Acura Integra and the Utility of the Year was awarded to the Kia EV6. Last year’s winners included the Ford Maverick for truck, the Ford Bronco for sport utility and the Honda Civic for Car of the Year.
“This year showed the unprecedented variety of vehicles on sale today, including reborn models of iconic nameplates, numerous electric vehicles, thrilling high performance or off-road vehicles, impressive luxury products and even all-new manufacturers,” said NACTOY President Gary Witzenburg in a press release.
“This was an extremely competitive year, but this year’s winners rose to the top to earn the collective votes of our 50 jurors, and we congratulate Acura, Ford and Kia for bringing their outstanding offerings to market this year.”
The Ford F-150 Lightning is an expected choice. The new electric full-size pickup has stormed onto the scene as one of the first EV trucks available alongside the Rivian R1T. Ford delivered more than 13,000 Lightnings in 2022.
The Ford Lightning comes in four trim levels: Pro, XLT, Lariat and Platinum. There’s only one cab and box configuration, SuperCrew cab with a 5.5.-foot cargo area. The configuration allows for plenty of head-, leg-, and hip room in the second row while not compromising storage space out back.
One of the Lightning’s most-loved features is Mega Power Frunk. The 14.1-cubic-foot storage space is at the front of the truck, a space normally reserved for a V8 or V6 engine. The area can swallow two sets of golf clubs, plus accessories, and the space also features a plug to recharged or power devices. An optional Pro Power Onboard generator can deliver 9.6 kilowatts of power to the model’s 11 power outlets.
The Ford Lightning has one motor each on the front and back axles. The standard truck maxes out at 452 horsepower and 775 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque with the standard range battery. The extended range model gives drivers access to 580 horsepower (it retains the same amount of torque). The fastest versions can get to 60 mph in the mid 4-second range.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates put the F-150 Lightning XLT and Lariat models as capable of achieving 320 miles of range, when equipped with an extended range battery. The base model F-150 Lightning Pro with a standard range setup can go 230 miles between charges.
The Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 and electric Lordstown Endurance were runners up in the category.
“When America’s best-selling vehicle goes electric you know the transition has momentum. Ford’s effort to create an all-electric F-150 is remarkable because it combines the standard truck’s dimensions, which means it retains massive aftermarket support, with substantial upgrades to areas like storage and mobile power support. It’s really the best of all worlds, giving the F-150 Lightning a wide range of applications for both traditional and new-to-the-segment truck customers,” said Karl Brauer of iSeeCars.com and Forbes.
Car of the Year was won by the new Acura Integra, a name that returned after a 16-year absence. The five-door luxury hatchback is a rarity that still offers a manual transmission. The name is old but everything else is modern including the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder making 200 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque.
The interior is likewise modern with a 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster and available 9-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Wireless smartphone connection is offered as is a 16-speaker premium sound system.
The front area is spacious and back seat is roomy with the front seat adjusted for adults. The trunk has 24.3 cubic feet of space, just a foot less than the Jeep Cherokee.
The Genesis G80 EV and Nissan Z were runners up in the category.
“The Acura Integra revives a beloved name with a car worthy of the moniker. Fun to drive and economical, it’s the type of car I would look forward to driving every day,” said Kirk Bell from Motor Authority.
The North American Utility of the Year award went to the Kia EV6, which has the shape of hatchback but the size of small sport utility. It’s 800-volt electric powertrain and 58-kilowatt-hour battery is good for 232 miles, a larger 74-kilowatt-hour battery delivers 310 miles. The quickest EV6 GT model delivers 567 horsepower to all four wheels.
The cabin is comfortable and spacious and the infotainment setup will familiar to Kia users with a landscape-style touchscreen and convenient physical controls. The rear bench is firm but there is space for four adults. The driver assist tech is dialed in more than its Hyundai counterpart.
The Cadillac Lyriq and Genesis GV60 were runners up in the utility category.
“The Kia EV6 blends attractive styling, eye-popping performance in the GT and tremendous range in a package that won’t break the bank. While Kia is a mainstream competitor, it has equipped this electric with the style and amenities you’d expect from a luxury brand,” said Matt DeLorenzo from Autoevolution.com.
Fifty jurors from a wide variety of print, online, radio and television media outlets in the United States and Canada voted. They started with 47 eligible vehicles, which jurors later narrowed to 26 semifinalists, 9 outstanding finalists and the 2023 winners. The vehicles are evaluated on automotive innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction, user experience and value.
Newsweek’s Fast Women podcast co-host Nicole Wakelin is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury and serves as secretary of the organization.