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Detroit Dominates NACTOY Finalists


Detroit – or more precisely, General Motors – dominates the finalist list for North American Car and Truck-of-the-Year.

In an unmistakable vote of confidence, GM grabbed four of the six top spots in the closely watched NACTOY balloting – which is determined by a jury of 50 high-profiles journalists from the U.S. and Canada.  (Full disclosure: this reporter is one of the NACTOY jury members.)

On the car side, the well-reviewed Cadillac CTS and Chevrolet Malibu will go up against Honda’s next-generation Accord sedan. The second-generation CTS has already scored on the annual awards circuit, grabbing honors as Motor Trend Car of the Year. Malibu, meanwhile, has been widely acclaimed as GM’s first serious contender in the tough, import-dominated mid-size sedan market in more than two decades. But the new Accord has also won raves for its blend of styling and performance.

Chevy also posted one of the finalists on the truck side, in this case its first-ever true hybrid-electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. Significantly, the slumping Buick division is also one of the finalists, with its well-received Enclave crossover grabbing one of the top spots. The only import brand on the list is the Mazda CX-9, one of two new crossovers from the small Japanese marque.

If GM pulls off a double-header win, it would mark the second year in a row for the maker. Its Saturn Aura scored a Car-of-the-Year win in January 2006, while the redesigned Chevy Silverado grabbed Truck-of-the-Year honors.

The NACTOY balloting is often an indicator of how a vehicle will perform in the marketplace – and manufacturers often give much play to a victory in their marketing efforts – but not always. While the Silverado has done well, despite record fuel prices, the Aura has not lived up to initial expectations.

The two NACTOY awards will be presented at the opening of the North American International Auto Show, in Detroit, on Sunday, January 13th. That will follow the announcements of finalists in the less-widely-known International Car of the Year awards.

Interestingly, with one exception, the ICOTY finalists in car and truck categories match NACTOY’s. On the car side, that includes Malibu, CTS, and Accord. But the “international” judges substituted the latest Chrysler minivans for the Chevrolet Tahoe.

Indeed, the lack of presence by the new Chrysler minivans was something of a surprise in the NACTOY finalist list, but that likely reflects the fact that jurors had two different models to choose from, and thus split their votes between the Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country. ICOTY paired the two together as a single entry.

2008 Chevrolet Tahoe: What’s New by Marty Padgett (10/5/2007)
The Hybrid arrives under separate cover.

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