NAIAS 2017: Chevrolet Bolt, Chrysler Pacifica, and Honda Ridgeline Take 2017 Car of the Year Awards

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
naias 2017 chevrolet bolt chrysler pacifica and honda ridgeline take 2017 car of

The Chevrolet Bolt was named the North American Car of the Year at the Detroit auto show today. Journalists also saw fit to bestow the honor of Truck of the Year to Honda’s Ridgeline, while the Chrysler Pacifica — which is a minivan — was crowned as 2017’s best “Utility Vehicle.”

The trifecta was recognized this morning in the Cobo Center’s atrium in front of a crowd of automotive journalists and industry executives, launching the next two days of press previews at the North American International Auto Show.

Chevrolet’s Bolt is the first electric vehicle offered for under $40,000 to manage a range better than 200 miles on a single charge. Already making Car and Driver’s Top Ten List and taking Motor Trend’s Car of the Year nod, scoring the 23rd annual NACTOY award is another notch in its belt.

With a the list of competing finalists encompassing hypermiling hybrids and purebred sports coupes, the Bolt managed to defeat the Audi R8, Mercedes-Benz S550 Maybach, and Toyota Prius Prime — giving Chevrolet its first victory since 2014.

The Honda Ridgeline beat out America’s most popular truck, Ford’s F-series, despite it having been nominated in both Raptor and Super Duty formats. Honda’s Ridgeline, which also won the award in 2006, was again praised for its superior on-road handling.

This year’s sport utility category is new for the North American Car and Truck awards and, while it was the only vehicle of the eleven finalists that wasn’t a crossover or SUV, the Pacifica overcame heavyweights like the Jaguar F-Pace and Mazda CX-9. The Pacific’s ace-in-the-hole was its status as North America’s first-ever hybrid-electric minivan, with an ability to travel up to 30 miles on battery power alone.

“This is the perfect family car,” said Chrysler’s passenger car head, Tim Kuniskis, as he accepted the trophy on behalf of the company.

NACTOY is the only independent automotive award, made up of journalists from a large swath of outlets. Competing vehicles are judged on innovation, technology, safety, design, overall performance, value for money, and driver satisfaction.

The three finalists were selected by 57 automotive journalists from a list of 15 cars, 11 utilities vehicles and four pickups, narrowed down from an even larger list late last year.

[Image: NAIAS]

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  • Tandoor Tandoor on Jan 10, 2017

    North America is a big continent. 90+% of its residents can't buy the car of the year. I'm betting I won't see it at the St. Louis auto show (which has become totally pathetic). I want to like the Bolt. I could be interested in buying one but there are no ZEV credits to be had in this state.

  • Cognoscenti Cognoscenti on Jan 10, 2017

    I want a Bolt! I'm just hoping that the handling provides some fun.

  • Tassos ask me if I care.
  • ToolGuy • Nice vehicle, reasonable price, good writeup. I like your ALL CAPS. 🙂"my mid-trim EX tester is saddled with dummy buttons for a function that’s not there"• If you press the Dummy button, does a narcissist show up spouting grandiose comments? Lol.
  • MaintenanceCosts These are everywhere around here. I'm not sure the extra power over a CR-V hybrid is worth the fragile interior materials and the Kia dealership experience.
  • MaintenanceCosts It's such a shame about the unusable ergonomics. I kind of like the looks of this Camaro and by all accounts it's the best-driving of the current generation of ponycars. A manual 2SS would be a really fun toy if only I could see out of it enough to drive safely.
  • ToolGuy Gut feel: It won't sell all that well as a new vehicle, but will be wildly popular in the used market 12.5 years from now.(See FJ Cruiser)