By Sean Tucker
Ford and Honda take home big awards. The 2022 Ford Maverick is one of the first true small trucks offered for sale in the U.S. in a decade.
The automotive industry has so many awards that it can be hard to know which ones matter. But most are given out by individual publications. Only a handful are the work of entire juries of experts. The North American Car, Truck, and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards are one of that more exclusive group.
This year, they've honored a Honda (7267.TO) and a pair of Fords. It's the second year in a row that Ford (F) has taken home most of the hardware--it also won the truck and SUV awards (with different vehicles) in 2021
There's also an affordability theme running through the winners. After a year when new car prices soared to unprecedented highs and Americans sought out more luxury cars than ever before, the jury awarded two cars with starting prices less than half the current average transaction price for a new vehicle.
2022 North American Car of the Year: Honda Civic
An all-new car with an old familiar name took home car of the year honors.
The 2022 Honda Civic is a wheels-up redesign of a car that generations of buyers have relied on. With this new model, Honda has brought an upscale feel to the affordable car classes. The new Civic "brings newfound refinement to the iconic compact car," the jury writes. Available as a hatchback or as a sedan, the new Civic looks like it could easily be a European sport sedan. But it offers long-commute comfort and legendary Civic reliability.
The Civic can place its award on the shelf next to its 2022 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award for the compact car class.
See: We compare the 2022 Kia Forte to the Honda Civic
With a starting price of just $21,900, the Civic was the least-expensive contender among the finalists for the prize. It beat out the Lucid Air (LCID), a luxurious electric car from a California-based startup, and the eighth generation of Volkswagen's Golf hatchback, with its high-performance GTI and Type R versions.
2022 North American Truck of the Year: Ford Maverick
Pickup trucks have spent a solid decade growing. But Ford won the 2022 North American Truck of the Year prize by pushing back against that trend.
The 2022 Ford Maverick is one of the first true small trucks offered for sale in the U.S. in a decade. It's just 2 inches wider and a little over a foot longer than a Civic. Yet it seats five ahead of a small but clever truck bed. The Maverick is built with customization in mind. That bed features molded-in slots for 2x4s, allowing owners to build in kayak racks, bike carriers, and other innovative systems. The cabin is filled with mounting points, and owners can 3-D print accessories to mount on them.
Best of all, it's the least expensive product in Ford's lineup. Starting at just $19,995, it's even cheaper than the Civic. A standard hybrid drivetrain gives it jaw-dropping fuel economy for a pickup -- 42 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, 37 mpg combined.
The Maverick took home two pieces of hardware from KBB -- it won KBB's 2022 Best Buy Award in the compact pickup class and KBB's Best New Model Award. It's been such a success that the hybrid version has sold out. Buyers can still get a Maverick with an optional turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. But Ford has sold every hybrid Maverick it can build this year. It expects to reopen orders in summer for the 2023 model year.
The Maverick beat out the only other compact truck on the market, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, and the innovative Rivian R1T (RIVN) electric pickup.
2022 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year: Ford Bronco
Ford also took home the North American Utility Vehicle of the Year award, this time, with a call back to a beloved classic.
The 2022 Ford Bronco updates an old-school off-road SUV. It looks like a natural evolution of the famous Broncos of old -- it even won a prestigious design award from a jury of artists and architects for how well it evokes a classic while retaining modern lines. But it combines that old aesthetic with modern technology, such as 360-degree off-road cameras and a terrain management system that compensates for any surface from sand to thick mud.
Bronco prices start at $29,300 but can climb to over $50,000 fully equipped, breaking the affordability theme of this year's awards. The Bronco beat out a pair of Hyundai products -- the funky little Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric car and the luxurious Genesis GV70--for the prize.
Read: You won't believe what people are paying for cars now
About the awards
The North American Car, Truck, and Utility of the Year awards are given by a panel of 50 automotive journalists, including representation from Kelley Blue Book. Voters considered segment leadership, innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction, and value for the dollar. The votes were tallied confidentially by Deloitte, LLP.
This story originally ran on KBB.com
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01-18-22 0459ETCopyright (c) 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.