2013 North American Car and Truck of the Year Predictions
Each year, 45 male and 6 female automotive journalists and industry experts get together to decide which new vehicles will be named the North American Car of the Year and the North American Truck of the Year, a rigorous process of consideration, contemplation, and evaluation that takes about six months to complete.
First, the jury selects those models that are eligible for the prize. Basically, any new or substantially updated vehicles that are on sale by January of the model year and which will sell in quantities of several thousand or more are eligible. This is called the Long List.
Next, each juror must consider each new model on the Long List, and then select “a dozen or so” cars, trucks, and SUVs that they believe merit inclusion on the final ballot. The result of this process is called the Short List.
After that, every jurist drives every vehicle on the Short List by December, then submits his or her final votes to Deloitte & Touche for official tabulation. The results of this vote produce a final ballot of three cars and, for 2013, three truck/utilities. These six finalists are announced at an Automotive Press Association meeting in Detroit.
Finally, the jurors vote one last time, selecting a single vehicle from each list, and the North American Car of the Year and the North American Truck/Utility of the Year are announced at the North American International Auto Show.
I’ve had a chance to peruse the contenders for the North American CTU of the Year, and while I have the utmost respect for the members of the media charged with determining the winner and I can appreciate the effort that goes into the selection and voting process, the winners for 2013 seem to be pretty clear to me.
My predictions? The North American Car of the Year will be the 2013 Ford Fusion, and the North American Truck/Utility of the Year will be the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe.
ABOUT THE 2013 FORD FUSION
Car buyers will tell market researchers that they make decisions about what to buy based on fuel economy, safety, quality, and reliability, but at the end of the day, we all buy something that we think looks good.
The 2013 Ford Fusion looks good. In fact, it looks great, and lots of people say it looks like the midsize family sedan that Aston Martin would build if Aston Martin built midsize family sedans. Beyond the styling, though, the Fusion is a technologically sophisticated automobile.
Three different Fusion models will be offered: Fusion, Fusion Hybrid, and Fusion Energi. The standard Fusion will be available in S, SE and Titanium trim levels with a choice between a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, a turbocharged 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with fuel-saving automatic stop/start technology, and a turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder making more than 235 horsepower. The latter powertrain can be paired with all-wheel drive.
The Fusion Hybrid, base priced at $27,200, is expected to achieve 47 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway, with electric-only propulsion available up to 62 mph. The Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid is expected to earn a fuel efficiency rating of 100 MPGe, better than the Chevy Volt.
Now consider this. The Fusion will be available with adaptive cruise control with brake system pre-charging, a reversing camera, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, and cross traffic alert safety systems in addition to standard MyKey programmable vehicle features. Sync hands-free connectivity with a mobile wi-fi hotspot, MyFord Touch technology, and active park assist will be offered on the Fusion, along with navigation, Sony premium sound, and so much more that we cannot list everything here.
Prices start at $21,700, and a loaded Fusion Titanium AWD can approach $40,000 with every option box checked. Clearly, the 2013 Ford Fusion is a genuine game-changer in the popular and crowded midsize family sedan class. We think Ford is gonna need to run three shifts for this one. Or even two assembly plants.
ABOUT THE 2013 HYUNDAI SANTA FE
The redesigned 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe isn’t a jaw-dropper like the Fusion is, but given that the truck/utility segment is loaded with refreshes and formulaic me-too models for 2013, the only real competition here comes from the Ford Escape and, maybe, the Mazda CX-5.
If that sounds like a backhanded compliment, it’s not intended that way. The new Santa Fe Sport five-passenger crossover and extended Santa Fe seven-passenger crossover introduce the next evolution of Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design language, dubbed “Storm Edge.” Whatever its called, it looks fantastic, and comes together better than the Escape’s somewhat disjointed “kinetic” design elements.
Beyond the good looks, the Santa Fe Sport features a pair of direct-injected four-cylinder engines: a standard 190-horsepower 2.4-liter estimated to get 33 mpg on the highway, and a turbocharged 2.0-liter good for 264 horsepower and a predicted 31-mpg highway rating. The larger three-row Santa Fe, which replaces the Veracruz in Hyundai’s SUV lineup, gets a standard direct-injected 3.3-liter V6 with 290 horsepower.
The Santa Fe can be equipped with a new Intelligent Active All-Wheel-Drive system featuring Torque Vectoring Cornering Control, which allows torque to be distributed to or braking power to be applied to individual wheels as necessary to improve traction and handling. Additionally, the Santa Fe features Driver Selectable Steering with Comfort, Normal and Sport modes.
Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system is standard, featuring a variety of connectivity, safety, and convenience services. Unfortunately, Hyundai is limiting blind spot detection technology to the bigger Santa Fe model, but all versions with cloth upholstery get stain-resistant fabric, and anybody with kids knows how important that is.
The frosting on this crossover SUV cake is Hyundai’s outstanding warranty, with 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage combined with a five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty that includes 24-hour roadside assistance.
SPEEDY DADDY SAYS…
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year jury will choose other vehicles for this honor when the winners are announced at the Detroit Auto Show half a year from now. Unless someone comes up with a convincing argument otherwise, though, I’m sticking by these choices.
– Christian Wardlaw
Category: Awards, Car News, Car Ratings, Ford, Fun Stuff, Hyundai, Industry, Opinion · Tags: 2013 ford fusion, 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe, 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, 2013 North American Car of the Year, 2013 North American Truck of the Year, 2013 North American Truck/Utility of the Year, best new cars of 2013, best new SUVs of 2013