The international group of automotive journalists had selected the Honda Fit, the Saturn Aura, and the Toyota Camry as finalists for the 2007 North American Car of the Year. The Chevrolet Silverado, Ford Edge, and Mazda CX-7 were finalists for the 2007 North American Truck of the Year.
More than 50 completely new or redesigned vehicles qualified for consideration this year by the 49
General Motors pulled off an unexpected sweep of the North American Car and Truck of the Year, a victory the automaker immediately heralded as further sign of its product-led revival.
There were few surprises when it was announced Chevrolet had claimed the top spot among three finalists in the battle for Truck of the Year. While the Ford Edge crossover and Mazda CX-7 were strong contenders and generally well received among consumers and the automotive media alike, the completely-redesigned, full-size Silverado pickup was a clear and strong favorite that seemed predestined to win.
Not so, however, the new Saturn Aura, the struggling GM brand’s new entry into the midsize sedan market. Aura was up against such tough competitors as the totally updated Toyota Camry and Honda’s new Fit minicar.
Looking clearly surprised, as the winner of the car balloting was announced, Saturn General Manager Jill Lajdziak took to the podium and announced she was “absolutely pleased.” Lajdziak, like her predecessors, has fought a tough battle to win technical and financial support from parent GM, but the automaker has begun rolling out an array of new products, including not only Aura, but the first true GM hybrid-electric vehicle, the Vue Green Line.
The Aura’s victory shows “What we could do,” said Lajdziak, when Saturn finally got the product to match its long and highly-respected sales, service, and marketing system.
The twin victories by GM followed a year after Honda pulled off a similar surprise, capturing both Car and Truck of the Year victories with the then-new Civic and Ridgeline models.
As Honda and other prior winners have done, GM is expected to play up its winners, while also using the coup to emphasize its renewed emphasis on product design and development.
What makes the NACTOY awards so quotable, said organizer Tony Swan, is that unlike other vehicle award programs, “There are no commercial tie-ins.” The organization consists of 49
TheCarConnection.com Publisher TCC Team is one of the judges for the North American Car and Truck of the Year.