Two sports car icons and a Korean family sedan duked it out for top honors.
Those sounding the alarm bells over the impending death of the sports car might want to take note: Chevrolet's new rear-mid-engine 2020 Corvette Stingray was named the North American Car of the Year by a panel of expert jurors, beating out the redesigned Hyundai Genesis, as well as another iconic sports car with a long and storied history: the Toyota Supra.
The fact that two of the three finalists in the car category of the North American Car, Utility, and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) awards were performance cars might say something about the continued relevance of the sportscar, even in today's automotive environment, where crossovers represent roughly half of all new vehicle registrations.
"A mid-engine Corvette was a huge risk for Chevy's muscle-car icon," Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne says of the C8. "They nailed it. Stunning styling, interior, and performance for one-third of the cost of comparable European exotics."
The winner of NACTOY's 2020 North American Truck of the Year award - the Jeep Gladiator - is similarly enthusiast-focused. The brand new mid-size truck is essentially the rugged Jeep Wrangler off-roader in a pickup truck format, sharing that vehicle's platform, its 3.6L Pentastar V6, and its available 6-speed manual transmission. It beat out the Ford Ranger and Ram Heavy Duty for the crown.
"What's not to like about a pickup truck with not only a soft-top removable roof but even removable doors?" says automotive journalist John Voelcker. "The eagerly awaited Gladiator is a one-of-a-kind truck, every bit the Jeep its Wrangler sibling is… but with a pickup bed."
The only non-enthusiast-focused product to win a 2020 NACTOY award was the 2020 Kia Telluride - the Korean company's new mid-size three-row crossover. The Telluride beat the mechanically similar Hyundai Palisade, as well as the new Lincoln Aviator luxury crossover, to be named North American Utility Vehicle of the year.
The annual North American Car, Utility, and Truck of the Year awards are decided by a panel of 50 jurors from print, web, and broadcast media across the US and Canada.