Electrification is Common Thread in Car, Truck of Year Awards

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For the first time in the award’s history, the North American Car and Truck of the Year winners – two Fords and a Hyundai – include an electrified model in each category.

Hyundai’s 2021 Elantra family, which includes the first Elantra Hybrid, has been selected as Car of the Year by the 2021 NACTOY jury while Ford’s all-electric Mustang MachE won utility vehicle of the year honors and the F-150 – which has a hybrid in every trim level – was named truck of the year.

[A 3-min. read.]

The awards are based on points awarded by 50 jurors, all automotive journalists, in seven categories: Innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction, leadership in the segment, and value for the dollar.

Car

2021 Car of the Year
2021 Hyundai Elantra lineup features model’s first hybrids.

The 2021 Hyundai Elantra was named car of the year in part because the redesigned compact sedan represents a renewed commitment to the affordable family car in an era dominated by trucks and crossovers.

There are three conventionally powered Elantra trims available now, with two hybrid trims and a pair of turbocharged performance models– the 201-hp “N-Line” and 276-hp “N” –  due later this year.

The gas-only models start at $20,645 (including a $995 destination charge) and are EPA rated at 37 mpg combined city and highway fuel efficiency for the base SE trim and 35 mpg combined for the SEL and Limited trims. The SEL starts at $21,895, the Limited at $26,445. The N-Line starts at $25,095. Pricing for the “N” hasn’t been released.

The Elantra Hybrid is EPA rated at 54 mpg combined for the base SEL trim, priced at $24,545, and 50 mpg for the Limited, priced at $29,095.

Utility

Ford’s attempt to expand the always-popular Mustang into the increasingly dominant crossover segment – and to electrify it as well –  came up a winner with 2021 Utility Vehicle of the Year honors.

Being classed a utility doesn’t necessarily mean SUV-styling like Toyota’s RAV4 or incredible off-road credentials like the Jeep Wrangler. It mostly means it has a cargo area behind the rear seats rather than a separate trunk or open bed. It also means it doesn’t fit comfortably in either the car or truck categories.

Indeed, the Mustang MachE sports a tall sport-sedan profile, just like the Tesla Model Y crossover with which it will compete. 

2021 Utility Vehcvle of the Year
Ford’s Mustang MachE brings electric power to the herd.

The 2021 Mustang MachE, starts at $43,995 (including $1,100 destination fee) before the $7,500 federal tax credit and any state or local incentives.

There are five trim levels, four available now. The line-topping $61,600 GT won’t be available until late this year.  All-wheel drive is an option on the lower two trims and the only system availed in the top three. Power and range varies depending on trim levels and options, but starts at 255 horsepower and 210 miles to 459 ponies and 300 miles.

Here’s what juror Henry Payne, auto critic for the  Detroit News, had to say about the MachE: It “leapfrogs European EVs as the Tesla Model Y’s most formidable challenger yet. Like Tesla, Mach-E understands that the premium EV market is as much about interior tech as it is about torque.” 

Truck

NACTOY’s choice for truck of the year is the perennially top-selling Ford F-150 pickup, which features a “Power Boost” hybrid powertrain option in all trim levels but the upcoming Raptor performance model.

The F-I50 hybrids are rated at a class-leading 24 mpg combined.

Their peak 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque make them the most powerful members of the F-150 lineup and second only to the 702 horsepower/650 lb.-ft. Ram 1500 TRX among all light pickups.

The latest version of the F-150 “refines the package, keeping what’s good, updating as needed, and delivering the right mix of features, capabilities, comfort, and style—with the added benefit of the first hybrid powertrain in almost a decade to debut in a full-size pickup truck,” said juror John Voelcker, a freelance automotive reporter and former editor of Green Car Reports.

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